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World Heritage Convention

Decision 11 COM VIII.12-15
Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural Properties

A. Cultural properties

12. The Chairman informed the Committee that, in accordance with the request of the Committee at its 10th session, a working group of the Bureau had been set up to examine the problems raised by the establishment of a system to monitor the state of conservation of cultural properties included in the World Heritage List. The working group had proposed the principles of the system and the procedure to be followed, and had, furthermore, drawn up two draft questionnaires. The, Chairperson of the working group specified that the first questionnaire would be addressed to all the States Parties concerned. Subsequently, the Secretariat would, if necessary, ask for further details by means of the second questionnaire. She also drew the attention of the Committee in particular to paragraphs 12, 15 and 16 of the document SC­8 7/CONF.005/5.

13. The working group was congratulated on the proposed system which gave rise to a wide exchange of views. Emphasis was placed on the need to ensure that States were the primary source of information, on the need for the Committee to have objective information at its disposal and on the fact that the system should be considered by the states as an incentive to conserve their listed sites and not as a means of control. Certain speakers requested that the "reliable sources" of information mentioned in paragraph 14 of the document mentioned above be clearly defined. It was furthermore suggested that ICOMOS should be more closely associated with the proposed system. There was also some discussion on the composition of the focal points referred to in paragraph 19 of this document. Certain aspects of the proposed system gave rise to reservations on its complexity and on the fact that it was not adapted to the needs of States. One member of the Committee underlined the fact that the date of 31 March foreseen in paragraph 8 was somewhat unrealistic. Another speaker insisted that the system should be implemented at first on a trial basis. The Chairman summarized the discussion, stating that he had detected a definite interest in implementing the system as proposed by the working group, at least for an experimental period, following which the necessary adjustments could be made. The Committee so decided.

14. The Director of the Division of Cultural Heritage also drew the Committee's attention to the problems which could result from the very brief period of time foreseen for the presentation of replies to the first questionnaire and to the number or sites to be examined each year which now amounted to 50. In accordance with the procedure foreseen, the Committee should draw u the list of the first fifty cultural properties which should bt: monitored in 1988.1 The Director of the Division of Cultural Heritage then proceeded to present those cases in which the Secretariat had recently intervened concerning World Heritage cultural properties for which the Secretariat had received information on the state of conservation. The Secretariat had received replies which indicated that the States had taken the necessary measure to respond to the problems raised. Such was the case for Angra do Heroismo in the Azores and the Monastery of the Hieronymites in Lisbonne, Portugal, Giza in Egypt, Auschwitz in Poland and for  Cregneash and Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. With respect to the Old Town of Quebec in Canada, Goreme in Turkey, the town of Olinda in Brazil and the Monastery of St. Hydra in Egypt, the Secretariat was in contact with the authorities concerned. She furthermore informed the Committee of a report received from the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany providing indications of restoration work on work on Würzburg Residence and the Church of Wies.

15. The representative of Brazil informed the Committee of the creation of a park between Olinda and Recife which would ensure that the zone between the two towns remained non-aedificandi. He also brought to the attention of the Committee the problems of land subsidence, of dense traffic and increase in tourism to which the town of Olinda was exposed. He added that the authorities of his country were solving these problems. Furthermore, he requested that the Secretariat communicate to the Permanent Delegations any information received with respect to the state of conservation of World Heritage sites. The representative of Canada informed the Committee that the Director of the Cultural Heritage of her country had been in contact with the local authorities concerning the two projects which were giving rise to concern in the old town of Quebec and indicated that the representative of her country would report on this question at the next session of the Bureau. The observer from the Federal Republic of Germany referred to the report of an expert from ICOMOS on the problems of integrity which had been raised in connection with Speyer Cathedral; precious advice had been given in this report for which he thanked ICOMOS.


1 The list of the first fifty cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List was later brought to the attention of the Committee - see Annex II.


Report of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision