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Decision 18 COM IX.1-19
Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural and Natural Properties

IX.1 The Committee examined the working documents that had been prepared for this agenda item by the Secretariat, the advisory bodies IUCN and ICOMOS, and by the UNDP /UNESCO Regional Project for the Cultural, Urban and Environmental Heritage for Latin America and the Caribbean.


IX.2 In introducing this item the Secretariat recalled that Article 3 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention stipulates that one of the essential functions of the World Heritage Committee is to "monitor the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List." However, provisions had been made only for regular monitoring of the sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and where sites were threatened. At the request of the Committee, therefore, the Secretariat and the advisory bodies, in consultation with the States Parties and individual experts, proceeded to develop a concept and framework of systematic monitoring and reporting.

IX.3 It was recalled that the initial discussions were held at the Committee's seventeenth session in December 1993 and that further proposals were endorsed by the Bureau at its eighteenth session in July 1994. On that occasion, the Bureau requested the Secretariat to prepare a draft text on monitoring for inclusion in the Operational Guidelines.

IX.4 The Secretariat presented the Committee, in Working Documents WHC-94/CONF.003/6 and 003/9Rev., a detailed description of the proposed systematic monitoring methodology. The draft text on monitoring for the Operational Guidelines was presented under the corresponding agenda item (see section XIV of this report).

IX.5 The Committee commended the Secretariat for the progress made in defining the framework for the implementation of this important function of the Committee. It emphasized that one of the principal aims of monitoring was to assess if the values, on the basis of which the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List, have remained intact. It also stressed that a monitoring methodology should be flexible and adaptable to regional and national characteristics, as well as to the natural and cultural specificities of the sites. Furthermore, it expressed the need to involve external advice in the periodic reporting through the non-governmental advisory bodies and/or the existing decentralized UNESCO structures. The Delegate of Italy insisted on clarifying that "writing of Reports with the participation of experts should be finalized in order to ensure better the monitoring in the management of properties". The Delegate of Italy also drew attention to the positive experiences in his country in involving the authorities from different levels and sectors as well as the civic community in the conservation and management of the sites.

IX.6 The Observer of India informed the Committee of his Government's position that according to the World Heritage Convention's explicit stipulation it is the State Party which decides what measures are to be taken to ensure the preservation and protection of the World Heritage sites on its territory, and that monitoring procedures should not affect the decision-making prerogative of the States Parties. He also emphasized that any involvement of outside agencies in the monitoring process could be done only on the specific request and consent of the State Party concerned.

IX.7 The Representative of ICOMOS introduced this organization's experiences in monitoring and offered its assistance in monitoring, World Heritage information management and the identification of needs for preventive action and its implementation. He drew particular attention to the need to develop guidelines for site specific monitoring and the identification of the World Heritage values of each site. He stressed that in his opinion the key to meaningful monitoring is the understanding of what impact time and circumstances have had upon these values.

IX.8 The Representative of IUCN stressed that his organization had been monitoring World Heritage natural sites since 1983 and that, following the Operational Guidelines (para. 57), this is one of the functions attributed to it by the Committee.

IX.9 Following the discussion, the Committee adopted the proposals presented in Document WHC-94/CONF.003/6, section A, as the general framework for monitoring and reporting. The Committee also adopted a text on monitoring and reporting to be included in the Operational Guidelines. The adopted text is included in section XIV of this report.

IX.10 In order to implement its decisions regarding systematic monitoring, the Committee invited the Secretariat to undertake the following actions:

(a) Prepare a revised nomination format for presentation to the nineteenth sessions of the Bureau and the Committee, so as to provide adequate baseline information at the time of inscription of properties on the World Heritage List.

(b) Organize in early 1995, with the participation of the advisory bodies and other relevant institutions, a meeting of experts on World Heritage information management, in order to develop guidelines for the establishment of a World Heritage Data Base.

(c) Inform the States Parties of the decisions of the Committee, invite them to put monitoring structures in place and to report on the state of conservation of the property to the Committee on a 5-year basis.

(d) Prepare workplans for and implement regional programmes to provide advice and assistance to the States Parties in setting up adequate monitoring and management systems, to promote the preparation of 5-year state of conservation reports, to handle and analyse these reports and to present 5-year Regional state of the World Heritage Reports to the World Heritage Committee.

(e) Incorporate monitoring as a management tool in World Heritage training courses and other activities.

(f) Report to the nineteenth session of the Bureau on the implementation of the decisions of the Committee and on the application of the new monitoring and reporting procedures.

IX.11 Following the recommendations of Work Group 2, the Committee also invited the Secretariat in collaboration with the advisory bodies, to:

(a) present to the nineteenth session of the Bureau a workplan for the implementation of regional monitoring programmes so that States Parties will have sufficient time to prepare the state of conservation reports;

(b) develop a format for monitoring reporting as an aid to the States Parties and to facilitate the processing of the reports and the information contained in them through a computerized data base.


IX.12 As regards systematic monitoring and reporting, the Committee drew heavily on the positive experiences provided by different monitoring models that had been applied during the past years on an experimental basis. The Committee took note of monitoring reports prepared by States Parties (e.g. Mexico), non-governmental organizations at the invitation of the States Parties concerned (ICOMOS's involvement in monitoring of World Heritage sites in the united Kingdom, Norway and Sri Lanka) and through existing united Nations structures such as the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project for the Cultural, Urban and Environmental Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Committee concluded that all of these models had resulted in credible monitoring reports and that the framework for systematic monitoring should allow for these models to be applied, depending on the wishes of the States Parties and the particular conditions of the countries and the regions.

Latin America and the Caribbean


The Director of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project, recalling that in 1991 the Committee commissioned the project to undertake a pilot monitoring programme in Latin America and the Caribbean and that since 1991 site specific monitoring reports had been presented at the annual sessions of the Committee, presented to the Committee the final report of this monitoring programme.

IX.14 This synthesis report, entitled 'Systematic Monitoring Exercise, World Heritage sites Latin America, the Caribbean and Mozambique: Findings and International Perspectives' contains an assessment of the implementation of the Convention in the region and describes in detail the methodology and modalities applied in undertaking the monitoring programme. It also provides an analysis of the trends and threats relevant to the conservation of historic sites in the region, seven essays on specific case studies that illustrates different types of World Heritage sites, as well as individual synthesis reports of thirty-one properties.

IX.15 The Director presented to the Committee the recommendations on policies and guidelines for future action which emanated from the monitoring programme. He confirmed that on-site monitoring arrangements are indispensable as well as sound baseline information on each of the sites, if credible reporting is to take place on a periodic basis. In this sense monitoring should be seen as a management tool, whereas the reporting should be the basis of decision-making by the Committee and its Bureau regarding requests for technical cooperation, regional policies and action plans. He strongly advocated a regional approach to monitoring through the existing UNESCO structures to facilitate regional cooperation and networking.

IX.16 The Committee and the advisory bodies unanimously commended the Regional Project's Director for the holistic and at the same time practical approach to monitoring and for the excellent presentation of its results in the synthesis report.


IX.17 As requested by the Bureau at its eighteenth session, ICOMOS reviewed the report prepared by the Government of Mexico on the state of conservation of ten cultural World Heritage sites in Mexico. ICOMOS informed the Committee that it is very impressed by the high standard of these reports. They are objective and do not seek to disguise problems where these exist. The format adopted corresponds very closely with that proposed for the systematic monitoring programme.

ICOMOS' involvement in monitoring in Europe and Asia

IX.18 ICOMOS informed the Committee of several initiatives in Europe and Asia where ICOMOS was invited by the State Party concerned to collaborate in the monitoring of the World Heritage sites on their territories. Such monitoring had been undertaken in 1994 in Norway, the United Kingdom and in the Asian region.

IX.19 The chief characteristics of the approach used in monitoring in Sri Lanka were its preparation through a survey of conservation issues and concerns in Asia with the aim to provide a broad framework within which to examine issues specific to Sri Lanka, followed by the mission of a monitoring team. This team included three external experts, three Sri Lankan experts and a team concerned with documentation issues. A series of seminars on conservation and World Heritage was also included in the mission programme.

Decision Code
18 COM IX.1-19
Conservation, Operational Guidelines, Working methods and tools