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World Heritage Convention

Decision 44 COM 7A.46
General decision on the World Heritage properties of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.52, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Appreciates the continued efforts of the State Party to implement the Kinshasa Declaration adopted in 2011, in particular the progress made with the operationalization of Corps responsible for the security of the National Parks and relevant protected areas (CorPPN) at the level of each of the five World Heritage properties in order to face the continuing threats of poaching, including by professional poaching groups;
  4. Notes with significant concern the reports on alleged human rights abuses towards indigenous peoples and local communities during law enforcement operations and requests the State Party to take urgent measures to further strengthen its efforts to address this issue, including by establishing and implementing a national code of conduct for eco-guards and a grievance mechanism for human rights abuses, and by training all protected area staff on human rights issues as part of regular law enforcement training, as well as ensuring that management processes follow a rights-based approach and ensure full involvement of all stakeholders, in particular local and indigenous communities, in line with relevant international norms, the Policy on World Heritage and Sustainable Development, and taking into consideration the outcomes of the Independent Review;
  5. Welcomes the improvement in the security situation in most properties, and urges the State Party to take advantage of this improved security situation to address the fundamental threats to the different properties, including by closing all remaining illegal mining operations and reclaiming parts of the properties occupied by armed forces since the start of the conflict, ensuring the support of all appropriate ministries and agencies as well as traditional and political authorities to achieve this, in line with the 2011 Kinshasa Declaration;
  6. Expresses its utmost concern regarding the continued insecurity in Virunga National Park and Okapi Wildlife Reserve which resulted in further park staff being killed in the line of duty, strongly condemns this violence once again and addresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and all ICCN staff;
  7. While noting the statement by the State Party that the government is currently no longer pursuing oil exploration or exploitation activities within Virunga and Salonga National Parks, strongly regrets that the State Party has not cancelled the oil concessions it has attributed which overlap with these properties, and that it has not yet provided the Committee with a firm commitment not to authorize any oil exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) World Heritage properties, as requested in previous decisions;
  8. Reiterates its position according to which oil and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status and also urges once again the State Party to cancel these concessions and to undertake a commitment not to authorize any new oil exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of any World Heritage property;
  9. Commends the efforts of the State Party to make operational the “Okapi Fund for Conservation – FOCON” as the Trust Fund for protected areas in the DRC, and also requests the State Party, and the donor community, to provide it with adequate funding to effectively respond to the management needs of the DRC World Heritage properties;
  10. Also appreciates the important efforts to mobilize funding for the management of the DRC properties and the implementation of the corrective measures, as well as the firm commitment of the various donors to provide substantial financial and technical support, but notes that the funding situation remains precarious, in particular for Salonga and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks and Okapi Wildlife Reserve, and stresses the importance of ensuring a sustainable financing mechanism, while regretting that no further information was provided on the status and capitalisation of the FOCON Trust Fund, and further requests the State Party to report on progress in this regard;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, a detailed report on the implementation of the Kinshasa Declaration, the security situation in the properties, and the status of the oil exploration and exploitation concessions that encroach on World Heritage properties, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 45th session.
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision