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World Heritage Convention

Decision 43 COM 7A.11
Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 63)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.51, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Addresses its most sincere condolences to the families of the guards killed in the line of duty and to all the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN);
  4. Commends the management efforts of the ICCN to strengthen surveillance and ecological monitoring, in particular through the increase in the number of guards, the improvement in collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) that has resulted in the control of Mont Tshiabirimu and an increase of nearly 50% in the areas covered by surveillance in comparison to 2017;
  5. Expresses its keen concern as regards continuing insecurity and notably the presence of 3,000 armed elements that operate in the property, rendering management operations very difficult and leading to incessant illegal activities (poaching, illegal fishing and production of charcoal) while endangering the life of the surveillance staff of the Park;
  6. Again expresses its concern in the face of serious threats that weigh on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in particular the encroachment of illegal plantations in nearly 20% of the Park, illegal fishing, the exploitation of wood and poaching;
  7. Requests the State Party to continue its efforts to implement the corrective measures updated by the 2018 reactive monitoring mission and encourages it to continue the implementation of the sustainable development activities established in the framework of the Alliance Virunga;
  8. Notes that a clear political will at the local, national and regional levels is necessary to resolve the encroachment issues of the property and urges the State Party to develop, in consultation with all the stakeholders, a strategy to halt encroachment and take measures to recover the invaded areas;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit the results of the inventories of the flagship species to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN and to define the biological indicators for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  10. Expresses its deepest concern regarding the establishment of an Interministerial Commission to study a possible modification of the boundaries of the protected areas with a view to authorizing extractive activities, and recalls again its position according to which all mining, petroleum and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, a policy supported by the commitments undertaken by the leaders of the industry, such as Shell and Total, not to engage in such activities in World Heritage properties;
  11. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020;
  12. Decides to continue the application of the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism;
  13. Also decides to retain Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Code
43 COM 7A.11
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2019 Virunga National Park
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision