The General Assembly of the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention met for its 1st extraordinary session on 13-14 November 2014 at UNESCO Headquarters under the Chairpersonship of Ms Vera Lacoeuilhe, Permanent Delegate of Saint-Lucia to UNESCO, with the mandate of examining the proposals made by the Open-ended Working Group to revise the Rules of Procedure in order to achieve the goal of an equitable geographical and cultural representation, including through allocation of seats by region (defined with reference to UNESCO’s electoral groups) on the World Heritage Committee, as well as other measures.
After extensive debates, the General Assembly adopted a new model for the conduct of the election of the members of the World Heritage Committee, accompanied by a number of other measures. This model was one of three proposals by the Open-ended Working Group that deliberated over the issue in January, March and May 2014.
The model endorsed by the General Assembly consists partly of a fixed allocation of seats per electoral group (16 seats) and partly of a number of seats left for an open election (5 seats). Seats shall be allocated for each electoral group as follows:
- two (2) seats for Group I
- two (2) seats for Group II
- two (2) seats for Group III
- three (3) seats for Group IV
- four (4) seats for Group Va
- two (2) seats for Group Vb
An additional seat shall be allocated for Group III and Group IV on a rotational basis (it was decided that the next ordinary session of the General Assembly (in November 2015) shall take a decision on the rotational order for the attribution of this floating seat).
The election shall be conducted through 2 ballots:
- A first ballot for the seats allocated to each electoral group, during which the candidate(s) obtaining in the first round the highest number of votes shall be declared elected in the sequential order of the number of votes obtained from the highest to the lowest, up to the number of seat(s) to be filled. A provision is foreseen (second round) in case of a tie.
- A second ballot shall be conducted to allocate the open seats, during which the candidate(s) obtaining in the first round, a simple majority (more than half of the valid votes cast by States Parties present and voting) shall be declared elected in the sequential order of the number of votes obtained from the highest to the lowest, up to the number of seat(s) to be filled. If there still remain seat(s) to be filled, there shall be a second round
The General Assembly also decided to abolish the seat(s) reserved to a State Party having no property on the World Heritage List. However, at each election, due consideration shall be given to the election of at least one State Party which has never served as member of the World Heritage Committee.
Furthermore, in order to avoid “clean slates”, the General Assembly reiterated to States Parties and Electoral Groups its strong request to provide a sufficient number of candidates for each seat and each election to ensure a genuine choice at each election.
Finally, the General Assembly adopted several measures to accompany this new election model:
- The gap before an outgoing Committee member can stand for a new election was increased from 4 to 6 years
- A standard candidature format for the presentation of experts shall be introduced (model to be developed by the Secretariat)
This new model shall be applied for the election of the new members of the World Heritage Committee at the forthcoming General Assembly of States Parties in 2015. The formal outcomes of the session are being currently finalized and after their review by the Chairperson and the Rapporteur, will be circulated to all the States Parties to the Convention.