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World Heritage Convention

Decision 42 COM 7A.51
Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 63)

Note: the following report on the World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) needs to be read in conjunction with Item 52.

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.11, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Addresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the guards killed in the exercise of their functions and to all the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN);
  4. Commends the efforts of ICCN in reinforcing surveillance, notably through the increase in the number of guards, but expresses its utmost concern as to persistent insecurity in certain sectors of the property that has led to continuing illegal activities by armed groups (poaching, illegal fishing and production of charcoal) threatening the safety of staff that resulted to halt tourism and call upon the international community to provide financial support to the property;
  5. Expresses its concern in the face of serious threats that continue to affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in particular encroachment by illegal implantations, illegal fishing, exploitation of wood and poaching, and requests the State Party to continue these efforts in the implementation of the corrective measures;
  6. Recalls that the re-establishment of law and order and ICCN authority is the sine qua non to improve security conditions, regain control of the occupied areas and call a halt to illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the property;
  7. Congratulates the State Party for the sustainable development activities established in the framework of the Alliance Virunga to improve the life of local communities and encourages it to continue this innovative model combining nature conservation and sustainable development;
  8. Expresses its deepest concern as regards the proposal of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons to modify the boundaries of the property to authorize petroleum exploitation activities, reiterates its request to the State Party not to attribute petroleum exploration permits in Virunga National Park and reiterates again its position according to which all mining, petroleum and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, policy supported by the commitments undertaken by the leaders of industry, such as Shell and Total, not to engage in such activities in World Heritage properties;
  9. Takes note of the recommendations done by the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, and also requests the State Party to implement the corrective measures, as updated by the mission, by 2023, as follows:
    1. Reaffirm and re-establish ICCN authority as the principal national authority within the Park territory and ensure cooperation with the other competent authorities, including the Armed Forces and legal authorities, to guarantee the efficacy of its actions,
    2. Continue to re-establish law and order enforcement by neutralizing the action of armed groups and contain their hold on the civilian populations and the illegal exploitation of natural resources,
    3. Encourage transborder operational activities with Uganda to ensure the protection and circulation of itinerant species, such as the elephant,
    4. Fight against the illegal traffic of charcoal organized from the Park, and promote alternative energies to satisfy the domestic and economic needs of the local populations,
    5. Combat illegal encroachment by reaffirming the Park boundaries, halting agricultural activities inside the Park, and promoting economic development in its periphery,
    6. Ensure protection of the fishery resources and the ecosystems of Lake Edward by combating illegal fishing, re-establishing governance of the property and promoting sustainable fish exploitation beneficial to the local communities,
    7. Continue the anti-poaching combat that feeds international traffickers and the local bush meat commerce,
    8. No attribution of petroleum exploitation concessions to be granted within the property,
    9. Pursue and strengthen implementation of the “Alliance Virunga” programme as a leverage for development and pacification for the benefit of local populations through eco-tourism, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture,
    10. Pursue efforts to ensure the professional and long-term management of the property by providing technical and financial means to the management authority to attain this objective;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  11. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  12. Also decides to retain Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Code
42 COM 7A.51
Conservation, List of World Heritage in Danger
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2018 Virunga National Park
Decisions adopted during the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee (Manama, 2018)
Context of Decision