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Resolution 10 GA 15-33
New monitoring activities related to World Heritage sites

15. This agenda item was introduced by the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee, Dr Adul Wichiencharoen (Thailand), who summarized the contents of his report on this subject as reflected in Working Document WHC-95/CONF.204/7 (see note [1] ) and the proposed resolution that had been prepared by him for this General Assembly (WHC­95/CONF.204/DR.1). He recalled that the World Heritage Committee, after a long process of consultations, discussions and practical experiences in several States Parties and regions, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, decided, at its eighteenth session in December 1994, to introduce a voluntary system of on-site monitoring of the state of conservation of World Heritage properties by the States Parties themselves, with a periodic reporting by the States Parties to the World Heritage Committee. With reference to specific provisions in the Articles 4, 6, 7, 8, 11 and the eighth preambular clause of the Convention, the Chairman emphasized that the Committee considered monitoring and reporting to constitute the appropriate modern and scientific means to meet the requirements and responsibilities of the States Parties and the World Heritage Committee as set out in the World Heritage Convention for ensuring the collective protection and conservation of properties on the World Heritage List. Therefore, he concluded, the reporting, i.e. the presentation of periodic state of conservation reports as proposed by the Committee, is a technical instrument for the implementation of the Convention and is of a different order than the reports to the General Conference of UNESCO mentioned in Article 29 of the Convention.

16. The Delegate of India introduced a draft resolution submitted by her country together with Indonesia, Jamaica, Oman and the Republic of Korea (see Document WHC­95/CONF.204/DR.2 which was replaced by WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.2.Corr.1). Another draft resolution was also submitted by India as an amendment to the Chairman's proposed resolution (see Document WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3). She proposed to use the terminology 'systematic observation' instead of 'systematic monitoring' in order to avoid any misunderstanding and misinterpretation. She also pointed out that, in her country's view and based upon Article 29 of the Convention, reports from States Parties can only be required by the General Conference of UNESCO and not by a 'select outside body' such as the World Heritage Committee.

17. The UNESCO Legal Adviser replied to some specific questions that were raised in the draft resolution DR.2.corr. 1. He clarified that the World Heritage Convention only foresees a reporting by the States Parties to the General Conference of UNESCO and that no legal basis exists for the Committee to demand reports on a mandatory The Committee could, however, request reports as long as this would be done on a voluntary basis.

18. In reply to a question posed by the Delegate of India, the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee emphasized that it is the responsibility of the Committee to make detailed provisions for the implementation of the different aspects of the Convention which are subsequently reflected in the 'Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention'. In this sense, he repeated that monitoring and reporting were conceived by the Committee as a technical means of implementing the Convention and as an effective tool for management and planning remedial actions by the States Parties themselves and for the Committee to undertake the tasks entrusted to it in the Convention. He reiterated that the World Heritage Committee can only undertake its tasks to establish and keep up-to-date the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger as well as to provide international assistance for the safeguarding of World Heritage properties, if it has updated and reliable information on their state of conservation available.

19. In the ensuing debate, the decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee and the Chairman's proposed resolution WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.1. were fully supported by the Delegates of Cambodia, Argentina, Colombia, Netherlands, Croatia, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Cuba, United States of America, Canada, among others, whereas the resolution WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3 tabled by India was favoured or considered suitable for revision by the Delegates of Germany, Greece, France, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Laos, China, Mali, Sudan, among others. The Delegate of Germany, however, expressed reservations about the final part of paragraph 7 of the draft resolution DR.3 and proposed that the text 'on a totally voluntary basis and without any obligation under the Convention to do so' be deleted.

20. The Delegate of Canada then pointed out that it seemed that the main divergence was not on the need for monitoring or reporting on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties in itself, but on the question if reports should be submitted to the World Heritage Committee or to the UNESCO General Conference. Upon her suggestion that reports could be presented to the General Assembly of States Parties, the President of the General Assembly decided to adjourn the session to give the delegates the opportunity to discuss and prepare a consensus resolution. After the recess, a 'revised amendment' was submitted by India (see Document WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3.Rev.1). This document was then distributed to all delegates.

21. The Delegate of Germany expressed his support for this DR.3.Rev.1, whereas the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee expressed his strong opposition towards it. In view of the fact that many delegates wished to consult with their respective governments on this new text, the President of the General Assembly decided to defer the debate until after the elections of the new members of the Committee (item 10 of the agenda).

22. After the conclusion of the elections, the President of the General Assembly stated that he had received a written statement from the Delegates of Sweden, Denmark and Finland which supported the resolution DR.1 proposed by the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee and which proposed specific amendments to the DR.3.Rev.1 in case the DR.1 were not accepted by the General Assembly (for the full text of this statement see Document WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3.Rev.2). A revision to DR.3.Rev.1 was also submitted to the President of the General Assembly in a written statement submitted by the Delegate of Brazil and reproduced in Document WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3.Rev.3. The President then proposed to amend DR.3.Rev.1 in the sense that reporting would take place to the 'General Assembly of States Parties as well as to the General Conference of UNESCO'. He also proposed amendments to paragraph 4 of the same document regarding the 'prime responsibility' of the States Parties in the observation of the conditions of World Heritage properties, and paragraph 5 regarding the role of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the advisory bodies in providing expert advice to States Parties (for the full text of this proposal see Document DR.3.Rev.4).

23. The Chairman of the World Heritage Committee intervened to express his disappointment that not all members of the World Heritage Committee openly defended the Committee's decisions. Hereafter, the Delegate of Italy requested that his country's full support to the Committee's decisions be recorded in the report of the session. The Chairman, supported by the Delegates of Italy, Australia and Canada, also raised objections that his proposed resolution was not taken as the basis for the discussions. The President referred to Rules 12.6 and 12.7 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly to justify his decision to first invite discussions on the draft resolutions submitted by India (DR.3.Rev. I) and himself (DR.3.Rev.4).

24. The discussions then focused on the DR.3.Rev.4 proposed by the President of the General Assembly.

25. The Delegates of Brazil and Italy supported the President's proposal to bring paragraph 4 of DR.3.Rev.1 in line with Article 4 of the World Heritage Convention which stipulates that 'the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage (...) belongs primarily to that State'. As to paragraph 5 of the President's proposal, the Delegate of Brazil, supported by the Delegates of Italy, Madagascar, Australia and the Netherlands, found this too restrictive and proposed to replace its text by the following: "Emphasizes further that with the expressed agreement of the State Party concerned, UNESCO, through the World Heritage Centre and/or the advisory bodies mentioned in Art. 13.7, may provide expert advice on ...." (see Document WHC-95/CONF.204/DR.3.Rev.3). The Delegate of Italy questioned the meaning of paragraph 9 of DR3.Rev.3 and DR.3.Rev.4 inviting the World Heritage Committee to explore the possibility of activating the reporting procedure mentioned in Article 29.

26. The Delegate of Australia expressed the view that the Assembly did not seem to be close to a consensus on the matter of monitoring and reporting. In response to the fear he felt among some of the delegates for excessive bureaucracy and an intrusion on the sovereignty of the States Parties, the Delegate stated that the World Heritage Committee's decisions on monitoring and reporting indeed strengthen the role of the Convention and the Committee but that these are in no way intrusive. Given the fact that the Convention as such, of course, cannot reflect the experiences gained since 1972, he felt that there is an important role to play for UNESCO in setting standards in this field. He concluded that he would not concur with the President's proposal DR.3.Rev.4.

27. Adding to this, the Delegate of Canada referred to specific articles in the World Heritage Convention, particularly Article 6, to illustrate the delicate balance between the sovereignty of the States Parties and the responsibility of the international community to cooperate in the conservation of the World Heritage properties, and to the importance of paragraph 5 (a) of the proposed resolution DR.1. She concluded that both DR.3.Rev.1 and DR.3.Rev.4 would imply a step back as compared to the Convention.

28. In response to the President's draft resolution (DR.3.Rev.4), the UNESCO Legal Adviser remarked that this proposal would encounter the same legal difficulties as the one proposing reporting to the Committee. He again recalled that, according to Article 29 of the Convention, it is to the General Conference of UNESCO to determine the dates and the manner in which the States Parties to the Convention shall give information on the legislative and administrative provisions which they have adopted and other actions which they have taken for the application of the Convention, together with details of the experience required in this field. He stressed that Article 29 could be used in a flexible way and that 'the manner' of the reporting could very well be, if the General Conference would so decide, through the General Assembly or the World Heritage Committee.

29. During the debate, the Delegate of Zimbabwe observed that the decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee address the concerns of, what he called, the practitioners and that monitoring is crucial for their work and that he therefore supported the Committee's position. He also proposed to mandate the Committee to look again into this matter. The Delegates of Australia and Austria equally stressed the need to develop, on the basis of the past experiences, standards for management and monitoring of World Heritage properties including a format for periodic state of conservation reports and the important role the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO, in collaboration with the advisory bodies ICCROM. ICOMOS and IUCN, should play in this matter.

30. The Delegates of Algeria and Morocco remarked that the positions defended by the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee and the Delegate of India differed fundamentally from each other and that more reflection was needed on this matter. They proposed to defer the discussion and decision-making to the next General Assembly in 1997. This was supported by the Delegates of Australia, Canada, Sweden, Malta and Pakistan. As the discussion continued on various related matters, the Delegate of Sweden requested the President to bring the proposal to defer the debate to a vote. The President did so and the proposal was adopted by forty-one votes in favour. Ten delegates voted for the continuation of the debate and five abstentions were recorded.

31. As a conclusion, - the General Assembly decided to continue the debate on the systematic monitoring and reporting on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties at the eleventh General Assembly of States Parties that will be held in 1997. The General Assembly requested the World Heritage Committee to prepare a report and a proposed resolution for the eleventh session of the General Assembly of States Parties taking into account the discussions and experiences gained over the past years as well as the documents that had been presented to the Tenth General Assembly and the discussions thereon.

32. The Director of the World Heritage Centre informed the Assembly that the report of the session will be finalized by the Rapporteur and will be distributed, in English and French, to all States Parties before the nineteenth session of the World Heritage Committee (4-9 December 1995). Furthermore, he indicated that the item 'the state of conservation of World Heritage cultural and natural properties' figured already on the provisional agenda of the nineteenth session of the World Heritage Committee and that the Committee would certainly examine this matter in the light of the debate at the Tenth General Assembly very seriously. He furthermore informed that the Committee will decide whether financial support will be given to States Parties upon their request, for monitoring the state of conservation of World Heritage properties and for training of site managers in this field. He also indicated that guidelines were being prepared jointly with ICCROM for on-site recording, and documentation.

33. Subsequently, upon the proposal made by the Delegate of the United States of America, the General Assembly thanked the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee for the work undertaken by the Committee and for his personal commitment and professional input in the debate at this General Assembly.

[1] The Rapporteur decided, for the sake of clarity, to re-number the proposed draft resolutions and revisions to these resolutions submitted to the General Assembly in their chronological order. All these documents as well as the Report of the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee for this agenda item are included among the official documents of the General Assembly and are included in Annex II. Reference numbers used in this report are the ones attributed to them by the Rapporteur.
Resolution Code
10 GA 15-33
Conservation, Periodic Reporting