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Decision CONF 202 IV.B.73
Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Poland)

The Secretariat informed the Bureau that it had received on 21 June 2000, a brief report from the Polish authorities on the state of affairs for the planning and preservation for the World Heritage site of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. This report included the following information:

  1. An International Council for Auschwitz and Birkenau Concentration Camps was set up on 29 March 2000 under the chairmanship of an ex-minister for Foreign Affairs and with the participation of both national and international experts and institutions. The Council met for the first time on 7 June 2000 and will co-operate with and advise on the protection, management and presentation of the Camps and in obtaining the necessary means for the functioning of the Auschwitz Museum.
  2. A Spatial Plan for the surroundings of Auschwitz, including a plan on scale 1:4000, had been prepared and had been subject to a long consultation process. A municipal resolution for the approval of the final version of the plan had been drafted. The Spatial Plan for the surroundings of Birkenau was less advanced but a plan on scale 1:4000 had been elaborated.
  3. Both plans, translated into English, had been transmitted to the International Expert Group that was established in 1999. Due to scheduling problems, this Group was not able to meet so far in 2000 but two conference calls took place. The next meeting is scheduled for September 2000. Two new members had been appointed on the Expert Group, one from Poland and one from Hungary.

The Bureau noted the information provided by the State Party on the progress made in the implementation of the Strategic Governmental Programme for Oswiecim and that the International Expert Group would meet in September 2000. It requested the authorities to submit a progress report by 15 September 2000 for examination by the Committee at its twenty-fourth session.

As to the request from the Polish National Commission for UNESCO for the Committee’s views on the matter of the restitution from the Auschwitz Museum to the author of portraits made during her imprisonment in the Camp, the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-third extraordinary session concluded that legal advice from the Secretariat was required before this matter could be further examined by the Bureau or the Committee. The Secretariat informed the Bureau that the Office of Legal Affairs of UNESCO was of the opinion that this matter does not come within the framework of the World Heritage Convention.  The Bureau took note of this advice.

The Observer of Israel, who is also a member of the International Expert Group, noted that, in fact, the World Heritage site should be called Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps. He also noted that the Spatial Plans refer to the urban town plans areas surrounding the Camps and not specifically to the World Heritage site itself. As to the restitution of the portraits, he recognised that this had also an emotional dimension and that there was a need to urge the parties to reach a conciliation.

Documents
Context of Decision
WHC-00/CONF.202/17
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