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World Heritage Convention

Decision 35 COM 12B
Working methods of statutory organs of the Convention

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/12B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 10 adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, Canada, 2008), Decision 33 COM 14A.2 adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, Spain, 2009), 34 COM 12 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, Brazil, 2010) and Resolution 17 GA 9 adopted at the 17th General Assembly of States Parties (UNESCO Headquarters, 2009);

3. Expresses its appreciation to the States Parties of Bahrain and Australia and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for organizing the expert meeting on the decision-making procedures of the statutory organs of the World Heritage Convention (Manama, Bahrain, 15-17 December 2010), and notes the report provided by the participants (Document WHC-11/35.COM/12B); 

Amendments to Rules of Procedure

4. Adopts the following amendments to its Rules of Procedure:

Rule 8.3. The United Nations and organizations of the United Nations system, as well as, upon written request, at least 15 days prior to the date of the session of the Committee, other international governmental and non-governmental organizations, permanent observer missions to UNESCO and non profit-making institutions having activities in the fields covered by the Convention, [according to criteria defined by the World Heritage Committee,] may be authorized by the Committee to participate in the sessions of the Committee as observers.

Rule 14. Duties of the Chairperson, [Vice-Chairpersons and Rapporteur]

14.1 In addition to exercising the powers which are conferred upon him elsewhere by the present Rules, the Chairperson shall open and close each plenary meeting of the Committee. He shall direct the discussions, ensure observance of these Rules, accord the right to speak, put questions to the vote and announce decisions. He shall rule on points of order and, subject to the present Rules, shall control the proceedings and the maintenance of order. He shall not vote, but he may instruct another member of his delegation to vote on his behalf. [He shall work, with the assistance of the vice-chairpersons at his discretion, to anticipate and address potentially contentious issues, including out of session.] He shall exercise all other functions given to him by the Committee.

14.2 [Should the Chairperson be absent during a meeting, or any part thereof, he shall be replaced by a Vice-Chairperson.] A Vice-Chairperson acting as Chairperson shall have the same powers and duties as the Chairperson.

14.3 The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, or Vice-Chairpersons, of a subsidiary body of the Committee shall have the same duties with regard to the bodies over which they are called upon to preside as the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee.

[14.4 In addition to exercising the powers which are conferred upon him elsewhere by the present Rules, the Rapporteur shall certify that the Secretariat has accurately recorded the Committee's decisions. He shall work with the Secretariat to monitor and record Committee debate on amendments.]

Rule 22. Order and time-limit of speeches

22.1 The Chairperson shall call upon speakers in the order in which they signify their wish to speak.

22.2 The Chairperson may limit the time allowed to each speaker if the circumstances make this desirable.

[22.3 The Chairperson, at his discretion, shall call on speakers from the Advisory Bodies and the Secretariat prior to the Committee taking a final decision.]

22.4 The representatives of organizations, individuals and observers referred to in Rules 6, 7 and 8 may address the meeting with the prior consent of the Chairperson.

[22.5 The Chairperson shall put Committee members' questions to a State Party once at the end of the Committee's debate on the property]

[22.6 Committee members shall not speak to World Heritage properties in their own territories, except at the explicit invitation of the Chairperson and in response to specific questions posed. Advocacy in favour of a particular proposal will not be entertained.]

22.7 Representatives of a State Party, whether or not a member of the Committee, shall not speak to advocate the inclusion in the World Heritage List of a property nominated, [the state of conservation of a property on their territory] or the approval of an assistance request submitted by that State Party, but only to deal with a point of information in answer to a question. This provision also applies to other observers mentioned in Rule 8.

Responsibilities of Statutory Organs

5. Requests the World Heritage Centre to present a study, for consideration at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee (2012), on options for:

a) oversight and monitoring mechanisms for the statutory organs of the World Heritage Convention to ensure that actions associated with priority policy issues are implemented, and

b) enhancing the role of the Bureau in facilitating the work of the Committee (without it assuming a decision-making role);

Expert meetings

6. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to develop and present annually a consolidated list of all proposed meetings in order for the Committee to decide which to sanction on the basis of priorities and available resources (human and financial), and encourages the option to hold virtual meetings where appropriate;

7. Requests the World Heritage Centre to clarify the different types and categories of expert meetings and decides that all meetings attended by the Secretariat should be documented in the Report on the Secretariat's activities to the Committee;

Conduct of statutory meetings

8. Decides that policy discussions in the Committee should be organised to enable participation by all States Parties through the use of Consultative Groups, or the recognition of requests for interventions from non-members of the Committee on policy agenda items, at the discretion of the Chair;

9. Decides that three regular (not extended) sessions of the Committee should be held each biennium as follows:

a) Even years - host country; agenda: reports, budget, nomination and state of conservation reports,

b) Odd years - host country; agenda: reports, budget, nomination and state of conservation reports, and

c) Odd years - UNESCO Headquarters immediately after the General Assembly, (which should be held within the period of UNESCO's General Conference ); agenda: strategic and policy issues and as necessary, reports on the state of conservation needing urgent examination;

10. Recognizes the need to improve processes for monitoring the state of conservation of World Heritage properties as a means of reducing workload, and decides to default to a minimum two-year cycle for the examination of state of conservation reports for individual properties on the World Heritage List, and for the discussion of those inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, except for cases of utmost urgency;

11. Decides to establish a four-year cycle for updating the Operational Guidelines and that the Operational Guidelines should be restricted to operational guidance, and that a new document, "Policy Guidelines", be developed as a means to capture the range of policies that the Committee and the General Assembly adopt;

12. Decides to develop "Policy Guidelines" for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, drawing in part on the results of expert meetings and consultative bodies;

13. Decides to establish a standing consultative body for review of the Committee's biennial budget;

14. Recommends Committee members consider refraining from bringing forward new nominations that might be discussed during their term serving on the Committee, without prejudice to nomination files already submitted, deferred or referred during previous Committee sessions, or nominations from least represented States Parties and that this provision be implemented on an experimental basis and be reviewed at its 38th session in 2014;

15. Also recommends that States Parties already well represented on the World Heritage List should exercise restraint in bringing forward new nominations in order to achieve a better balance of the List;

16. Requests States Parties to consider refraining from providing additional information regarding nominations and/or state of conservation issues after the deadlines indicated in the Operational Guidelines, as this information is not able to be evaluated by the Advisory Bodies;

Capacity building for participation in statutory meetings

17. Requests the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to:

a) Include the orientation/induction session for Committee members on the annual Committee agenda and invite the direct participation of the Chairperson and Rapporteur,

b) Cooperate to develop tools to support Committee members, including a guide to standard language adopted in decisions, an updated searchable database of decisions, simple explanations of key procedures (especially voting procedures) and a republished edition of the Basic Texts,

c) Assess the advantages and disadvantages of merging the referral and deferral options for consideration of a nomination into a single mechanism, and give consideration to elaborating a proposal for draft amendments to paragraphs 159 and 160 of the Operational Guidelines in this regard,

d) Provide a simple explanation for consideration at the 36th session of the Committee of the processes and methods used to evaluate nominations and the state of conservation of World Heritage properties,

e) Develop further capacity building activities for the Chairperson, Rapporteur and Committee members, including through the systematic explanation of documents to States Parties;

Guidance on draft decisions

18. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to ensure that draft decisions:

a) Are concise and focused on issues central to the Convention (notably on matters related to Outstanding Universal Value),

b) Be limited to consideration of priority issues, and

c) Include, for inscription of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger, a costed programme of operations needed, as relevant, based on the desired state of conservation for the removal of the property of the List of World Heritage in Danger, as required in article 11.4 of the Convention and encourages the use of the international assistance in meeting these needs;

19. Also decides to enhance consistency, and as a standard practice, draft decisions addressing:

a) Development threats, recommend use of Environmental Impact Assessment/Heritage Impact Assessment,

b) Lack of capacity, recommend assessments of management effectiveness,

c) Funding required for particular actions, recommend applications for International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund;

20. Requests the World Heritage Centre to develop standard modular costs for core activities for consideration at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee, to enable the Committee to assess the costs and workload implications of decisions for all stakeholders (States Parties, Committee, Secretariat, Advisory Bodies) prior to adoption;

Transparency of documents and statutory meetings

21. Requests the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to continue the reflection on the best way for the States Parties to engage in a constructive dialogue with the Advisory Bodies during the assessment of the nominations processes, and with the Advisory Bodies and the Secretariat during the reactive monitoring process;

22. Decides that World Heritage Committee meetings should be live-streamed over the web and requests the World Heritage Centre to strengthen relations with media, including through media briefings prior to the opening of Committee sessions, capacity building for journalists on World Heritage matters, regular interface between the media and the Chairperson during Committee sessions and media training for the Chairperson and representatives of the Advisory Bodies and decides to open the meetings to accredited journalists;

23. Requests the World Heritage Centre to transmit Advisory Body evaluation reports to the relevant States Parties as soon as they are finalised, to allow time for proper dialogue and to make working documents public, at the time of their distribution to the States Parties.

Decision Code
35 COM 12B
Communication, Working methods and tools, World Heritage Convention
Decisions Adopted by the Word Heritage Committee at its 35th Session (UNESCO, 2011)
Context of Decision