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World Heritage Convention

Decision 20 COM XVII.1-9
Revision of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention

XVII.1 The Committee took note of the revisions to the Operational Guidelines which were proposed by the Expert Meeting on Evaluation of general principles and criteria for nominations of natural World Heritage sites (Pare national de la Vanoise, France, 22 to 24 March 1996) and of the full report contained in Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.8, as well as the responses by eleven States Parties to the Circular Letter requesting comments on this matter.

XVII.2 The Delegate of Canada proposed to keep the Vanoise recommendations as well as comments by States Parties on record and bring them up at the joint meeting of cultural and natural heritage experts proposed under agenda item 9 "Progress report on the Global Strategy, and Thematic and Comparative Studies". The Delegate of Lebanon emphasized that these recommendations should not be brought from one expert meeting to another, but to the twenty-first session of the World Heritage Committee.

XVII. 3 The Committee recalled that it had adopted the nomination form as amended under agenda item 7.1. The Committee revised Section I.G. of the Operational Guidelines on the format and content of nominations and replaced paragraph 64 of the Operational Guidelines by the following text:

"64. The same form approved by the Committee is used for the submission of nominations of cultural and natural properties. Al though it is recognized that all properties have specific characteristics, states Parties are encouraged to provide information and documentation on the following items:

1. Identification of the Property

a. Country (and State Party if different)
b. State, Province or Region
c. Name of Property
d. Exact location on map and indication of geographical coordinates to the nearest second
e. Maps and/or plans showing boundary of area proposed for inscription and of any buffer zone
f. Area of site proposed for inscription (ha.) and proposed buffer zone (ha.) if any

2. Justification for Inscription

a. Statement of significance
b. Possible comparative analysis (including state of conservation of similar sites)
c. Authenticity/Integrity
d. Criteria under which inscription is proposed (and justification for inscription under these criteria)

3. Description

a. Description of Property
b. History and Development
c. Form and date of most recent records of site
d. Present state of conservation
e. Policies and programmes related to the presentation and promotion of the property

4. Management

a. Ownership
b. Legal status
c. Protective measures and means of implementing them
d. Agency/agencies with management authority
e. Level at which management is exercised (e.g., on site, regiona11y) and name and address of responsible person for contact purposes
f. Agreed plans related to property (e.g., regional, local plan, conservation plan, tourism development plan)
g. Sources and levels of finance
h. Sources of expertise and training in conservation and management techniques
i. Visitor facilities and statistics
j. Site management plan and statement of objectives (copy to be annexed)
k. Staffing levels (professional, technical, maintenance)

5. Factors Affecting the Site

a. Development Pressures (e.g., encroachment, adaptation, agriculture, mining)
b. Environmental Pressures (e.g., pollution, climate change)
c. Natural disasters and preparedness (earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.)
d. Visitor/tourism pressures
e. Number of inhabitants within site, buffer zone
f. Other

6. Monitoring

a. Key indicators for measuring state of conservation
b. Administrative arrangements for monitoring property
c. Results of previous reporting exercises

7. Documentation

a. Photographs, slides and, where available, film/video
b. Copies of site management plans and extracts of other plans relevant to the site
c. Bibliography
d. Address where inventory, records and archives are held

8. Signature on behalf of the State Party

The Committee has adopted at its twentieth session substantive Explanatory Notes to the above nomination form. These notes relate to each of the above headings and will be made available as an annex to the nomination form to the States Parties in order to provide guidance to those nominating properties for inclusion on the World Heritage List."

XVII.4 The Committee also recalled that it had recommended under agenda item 12 to amend the dates for submission of international assistance requests and to revise paragraph 108 of the Operational Guidelines as follows:

"All requests for international assistance which are to be examined by the Bureau, with the exception of requests for emergency assistance, should be submitted before 1 May and 1 September respectively for consideration by the following session of the Bureau. Large-scale requests (that is those exceeding US$ 30,000) will be forwarded, with the Bureau's recommendation, to the following session of the World Heritage Committee for decision-making."

XVII.5 The Committee recalled several discussions held on the application of cultural criterion (vi) and decided to amend paragraph 24 (a) (vi) as follows:

"be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (the Committee considers that this criterion should justify inclusion in the List only in exceptional circumstances and in conjunction with other criteria cultural or natural);"

XVII.6 The Committee took note of the "Glossary of World Heritage Terms" contained in Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.21 and expressed the wish that the Glossary be prepared in other languages.

XVII.7 The Delegates of Germany and the United States of America made statements as to the legal significance of the Operational Guidelines and the fact that, in their views, the Operational Guidelines had not been applied properly during this session. Both Delegates requested that their statements be included in extenso in the report and are attached in Annex IX.

XVII.8 The Delegate of Italy agreed to the strict application of the Operational Guidelines, however, underlined that the Guidelines had been followed and that the Committee itself is the decision-making body of the World Heritage statutory organs. The Delegate of France agreed to this statement and said that it is common practice of the Committee not always to follow recommendations by the Bureau and by the advisory bodies. This was endorsed by the Delegate of Benin. The statement of the Delegate of Italy is included in Annex IX.

XVII.9 In concluding the debate which she found constructive, the Chairperson recalled that each one of the delegates of the Committee had made a serious analysis of the case and of the spirit of the Convention before taking a final decision, and that in respecting the statements of each of the speakers, even if she considered not acceptable those of the Delegates of Germany and the United States of America, the Committee had retained its credibility and competence. The statement of the Chairperson is also included in Annex IX.


Decision Code
20 COM XVII.1-9
Operational Guidelines