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World Heritage

28 COM

Distribution limited


Paris, 15 June 2004

Original : English/French



Twenty-eighth session

Suzhou, China, 28 June - 7 July 2004

Item 9 of the Provisional Agenda: Report of the World Heritage Centre on its activities and on the Implementation of the Decisions of the World Heritage Committee

This document is in two parts.
Part I is a brief overview of the activities undertaken by the World Heritage Centre in implementing the Decisions and Strategic Objectives of the Committee.
Part II is a table showing the status of implementation of the Decisions adopted by the Committee at its 27th session as requested in Decisions 27 COM 4 and 27 COM 5.1.
Draft Decision 28 COM 9: see page 9
Dear Members of the World Heritage Committee,
The year since the 27th session of the Committee has, as so often in the past, borne witness to the fragility of our heritage in the shape of a series of vivid and devastating natural disasters. The torrential rains in Timbuktu (Mali) in August 2003, the earthquake that hit the city of Bam (Iran) on 26 December 2003, and mud slides near the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (Peru) in April 2004 are just three examples of the forces of nature that threaten our world’s special places, whether or not they have been inscribed on the World Heritage List. As we, for whom heritage is a fundamental part of our existence, are all too well aware other, perhaps more insidious, threats come from human activity. The World Heritage Convention is an important instrument for mobilizing the international community to face these threats: to seek to prevent them whenever possible and to respond quickly when emergencies arise. This document presents some of the activities that the World Heritage Centre has undertaken to implement the World Heritage Convention in line with the Decisions adopted at the 27th session of the Committee and the Strategic Objectives adopted through the Budapest Declaration on World Heritage of 2002.
2003 was a particularly busy year with 3 World Heritage statutory meetings to organize: the 6th Extraordinary and 27th Ordinary sessions of the Committee and the 14th General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. This trend is continuing in 2004: an informal meeting of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee took place at UNESCO Headquarters on 10 March 2004, prior to an information meeting, on 11 March 2004, for States Parties, and an information meeting on a selected number of special initiatives has been scheduled for 3 June 2004.
New Rules of Procedure adopted at the sixth extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee (Paris 2003) heralded new methods of reporting. Rule 46 requires that at the closure of each session, the Committee shall adopt a report of the session comprising a list of Decisions. This provides a very welcome and clear emphasis on the Decisions adopted by the Committee during each session, which are published in both English and French shortly after each session. Rules 47.1 and 47.2, also adopted by the Committee at its sixth extraordinary session, require the preparation of a Summary Record of all the interventions made during the plenary sessions within three months following the closure of the session. In the intervening period, a provisional Summary Record has to be submitted to the Members of the Committee, the 3 Advisory Bodies and the representatives of other participating organizations so that they may indicate any corrections to their own statements, which are then integrated into the text. This turned out to be a more resource intensive process than we expected. This is why we were not able to meet the deadline indicated by the Committee. However, we are now building on the experience we have acquired to improve our standards and speed.
Implementation of the Convention
The total number of States Parties to the Convention has increased to 178 with the deposit of its instrument of Acceptance by Tonga on 30 April 2004. Following the inscription of 24 new properties by the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee, the World Heritage List now contains 754 properties (582 cultural; 149 natural and 23 mixed properties) located in 129 countries.

A total of 156 State of Conservation reports (121 “normal” and 35 “in danger”) have been prepared for this session of the Committee.

The Committee will examine 53 nominations for inscription on the World Heritage List during this session. These comprise 34 new nominations, 7 proposed extensions, 10 nominations deferred or referred by previous sessions of the Committee, one transboundary nomination.
Follow up to all Committee Decisions and recommendations relating to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, Global Strategy, new nominations, international assistance, reactive monitoring and periodic reporting has been carried out in close cooperation with States Parties and the Advisory Bodies and other parts of UNESCO as required, in particular the Divisions of Cultural Heritage and Ecological Sciences, and the Education sector. The working documents prepared for this session reflect the majority of the World Heritage Centre’s activities in these areas. Others are summarized in the following paragraphs. Further information about all of them is available from the World Heritage Centre.
Revision of the Operational Guidelines
At its 27th session, the World Heritage Committee (Decision 27 COM 10) requested States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to provide final written comments on the revised Operational Guidelines presented in document WHC.03/27.COM/10 to the World Heritage Centre by 15 October 2003. Nineteen written responses were received from States Parties. As requested in Decision 27 COM 10 the written comments from States Parties were compiled and reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies verifying that they complied with the decisions of the Committee, in particular Decision 6 EXT COM 5.1 and Technical Annex. This process of review included consultation by e-mail and two intensive working sessions involving the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies (24-25 November 2003 and 8-9 January 2004). Following the review and integration of revisions, the final text of the revised Guidelines in English was submitted to the Chairperson of the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee to approve the final text on its behalf.
Activities undertaken in pursuit of the 4Cs
In addition to the activities related to the establishment and analysis of the World Heritage List, Tentative Lists, Periodic Reporting and reactive monitoring developed in close cooperation with the Advisory Bodies, the World Heritage Centre has undertaken other activities in support of the 4C’s established by the Budapest Declaration of 2002.
Activities to make the World Heritage List more representative, balanced and credible have included:

  • An initiative to establish a more systematic approach to strategically enhance “Marine Conservation” action by assisting new marine nominations, and to establish a support network for existing marine World Heritage sites;

  • The elaboration of a thematic initiative, “Astronomy and World Heritage” to establish the links between science and culture on the basis of research aiming at the acknowledgement of the cultural and scientific values of properties connected with astronomy;

  • A mission undertaken along the Chinese section of the Silk Road in cooperation with the Chinese State Administration for Cultural Heritage to facilitate discussion about, and enhance understanding of, the identification and nomination of Cultural Routes to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.;

  • Two expert meetings to prepare the nomination process of the Main Andean Road as a cultural route. (Further information is available in Document WHC-04/28.COM/INF.13D);

  • A workshop on Boreal Forests (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 9-13 October 2003) to identify priority areas in the boreal zone, with emphasis on boreal forests that could be nominated as World Heritage;

  • A sub-regional meeting for Eastern Caribbean Island States (St.Vincent & the Grenadines,18-20 November 2003) to explore possibilities for improving the representivity of the Caribbean region on the World Heritage List, and to enhance possibilities for small Caribbean island states to nominate their heritage through a cooperative process and a more thematic approach based on current gaps in the List;

  • A Regional Meeting on Modern Heritage Africa (Modernist City of Asmara, Eritrea, 4-7 March 2004) organized in collaboration with the Government of Eritrea and Africa 2009, ICOMOS, DOCOMOMO International, mAAN (modern Asian Architecture Network), and the Swedish National Heritage Board, with the financial support of the Government of the Netherlands;

  • Preparations for the launch (autumn 2004) of a World Heritage Pacific 2009 Programme.

Activities and meetings to ensure the effective Conservation of World Heritage properties included:

  • Two meetings of the World Heritage Cities for Eastern Africa (Zanzibar, 30-31 July 2003 and Lamu, Kenya, 8-11 March 2004);

  • A meeting on the management of natural World Heritage sites in the Russian Federation (Island of Vilm, Germany, 11-17 August 2003) in collaboration with the German Agency for Nature Protection, the Russian Natural Heritage Protection Fund and the World Heritage Centre;

  • An expert mission to the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site (15 September-5 November 2003), as requested by the 27th session of the Committee, to prepare inventories and to evaluate the impact of development pressure on the traditional urban fabric. A Technical Workshop was also held at the site from 3 to 7 May 2004 which made recommendations concerning the redefinition of boundaries (including core and support zones) of the protected areas of the seven Monument Zones;

  • The preparation, in October 2003, of an inventorying system for the Old City of Sana'a, Yemen, and the training in its use for staff from the responsible Yemeni institution;

  • A Training Workshop for national and local authorities on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan, 12-23 October 2003);

  • A workshop among Palestinian experts and decision makers which led to the establishment of an inventory of heritage sites of potential outstanding universal values (November 2003);

  • An International Stakeholder Workshop (Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway) for Mobilization of Resources and Partnerships for the Sustainable Development of World Heritage Area (Darjeeling, India, 20-24 November 2003);

  • A workshop for World Heritage site managers in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Sopron, Hungary, 27-30 November 2003);

  • A special discussion session, ‘African Cities and World Heritage’ organized by the World Heritage Centre on 4 December, during the third Panafrican Summit, AFRICITES, held in Yaounde, Cameroon, which aimed at sensitizing African municipal authorities to the importance of the protection of urban heritage and to encourage them to inscribe sites and historic centres of exceptional universal value on the World Heritage List;

  • The preparation of a draft Management Plan for the World Heritage property of Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region (Sudan, February 2004) as requested by the 27th session of the Committee;

  • A workshop “World Heritage and its Role in Strengthening Sustainable Tourism Initiatives in the Mundo Maya Region” (Tikal, Guatemala, 15-25 February 2004) and funded by the Italian Funds-in-Trust;

  • The 2004 Workshop for Management and Conservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites in the Asia-Pacific Region (Hiroshima, Japan, 8-12 March 2004) as part of a series on Management and Conservation of the World’s Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites;

  • A meeting of experts on the “Recuperation of America Fortifications” (Campeche, Mexico, 12-15 March 2004) financed by the Spanish Funds in Trust;

  • A Tri National Workshop on Conservation and Management of the Jebel Ouenat, (Libya, March-April 2004);

  • A meeting on the “Use of space technologies for the conservation of natural and cultural sites in Latin America” (Falda del Carmen, Argentina, 8-23 April 2004) at the Argentinean Comision Nacional de Asuntos Espaciales (CONAE).

Activities and meetings to promote the development of effective capacity building measures included the organization of or participation in:

  • Two training sessions on the World Heritage Convention and Listing procedures. The first of these took place during the 1st Africa 2009 technical course on Documentation and Inventory (Bafoussam, Cameroon, 20-24 July 2003); the second was held during the 5th Africa 2009 regional course on Conservation and Management of Immovable Cultural Heritage (Mombasa, Kenya, 20-25 October 2003);

  • A training course on Mosaics Conservation (Algeria, September-October 2003);

  • An information course on the World Heritage Convention for Palestinian Experts held at ICCROM (Rome, Italy, 8-13 September 2003) to familiarize participants with the workings of the World Heritage Convention;

  • The establishment of a building rehabilitation training workshop at the Kasbah of Algiers (Algeria, October-March 2004);

  • A workshop on safeguarding Ksar of Ait Ben Haddou, (Morocco, November 2003);

  • A Regional Training Seminar on earthen structures (Muscat, Oman, 15-17 December 2003);

  • A meeting on the “Contribution of space technologies to the Management of Cultural and Natural sites for the Arab region”(Beirut, Lebanon, 15-18 December 2003) which led, inter-alia, to the decision of the national space agencies of Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia to join the partnership with UNESCO;

  • A workshop on the safeguarding of the cultural landscape of Azougui, (Mauritania, December 2003);

  • A meeting in Saint Lucia (23-27 February 2004) and funded by the United Kingdom, as part of the development of a Caribbean Capacity Building Programme to review (a) the preliminary findings of a Training Needs Survey and (b) the conclusions and recommendations of the Periodic Report 2004 relating to the Caribbean sub-region;

  • A training workshop for Arab cultural sites, at Saqqara, (Egypt, February 2004);

  • An International Expert Meeting, "Evaluation and Management of Modern Cities – The Case of La Plata,” (La Plata, Argentina, 16-19 March 2004);

  • A sub-regional workshop at Itchan Kala, Khiva, World Heritage site, (24-29 April 2004) to elaborate a specific programme for the first three years of the Central Asian Earth 2002-2012 programme, identify priority properties or areas for the implementation of capacity-building activities, and strengthen partnerships in Central Asia for the execution of the programme;

  • A capacity-building workshop for journalists (E-mei Mountain, Sichuan Province, China, 29-30 April 2004) to broaden journalists’ understanding of the World Heritage Convention and develop awareness amongst the Chinese public;

  • The first sessions for French speaking countries of the Africa Regional Training Programme (Nature), comprising a module on Management Training for site managers (Djoudj National Park, Senegal, 30 April-28 May 2004) and a module for the National Directors responsible for the implementation of the Convention in terms of its natural aspects (Dakar, Senegal, 29 May-5 June 2004;

  • A training workshop for Arab natural sites (Ichkeul, Tunisia, May 2004).

Communications, publications and World Heritage information materials.
Intensive work has been undertaken to improve and redesign the current World Heritage website using the latest database driven web-technology. The website, which was launched on 6 May 2004, can be consulted at http://whc.unesco.org
Many publications were issued over the course of the year, including 5 editions of the World Heritage Newsletter and 4 editions of the World Heritage Review. Along with the English, French and Spanish versions of the magazine, a Russian and Chinese edition are now being produced and distributed through co-publishing agreements with Magisterpress, Moscow and Foreign Affairs Press, Beijing. Four publications in the World Heritage Papers series were printed. The World Heritage Map and the World Heritage brochure have been produced in an updated version, and the Brief Descriptions of World Heritage Sites have a new design. The World Heritage Diary and Calendar were also produced.
A special 25th-anniversary issue of the French edition of GEO Magazine has been printed with World Heritage as its main theme. The 30th Anniversary Exhibition on World Heritage has been made available on the WHC website.
Other communications initiatives have included:

  • Collaborating with UNESCO’s Cultural Sector, ICCROM, and States Parties on several activities relating to the declaration by the United Nations of 2004 as the international year to commemorate the fight against slavery and its abolition.

  • Participation in the International Tourism Exchange (ITB), the world's largest travel and tourism trade fair, in Berlin (Germany, 12-16 March 2004) to provide information on the World Heritage tourism programme, promote World Heritage conservation, strengthen relations with tourism industry partners, showcase and explain their current and future contributions, introduce sustainable tourism activities and projects and explore ways of enhancing cooperation between the industry and site managers facing tourism pressures.

World Heritage Education
Activities in pursuit of the recommendations of the World Heritage Education Planning meeting held at UNESCO Headquarters on 7 March 2003 included two events involving young people in Rhodes, Greece on the occasion of the 7th Symposium of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (24 -26 September 2003), and a Skills Development Course for Eastern and Central Africa (Mount Kenya, Kenya, 19-23 April 2004). The publication or preparation for publication of new language versions of the “World Heritage In Young Hands Educational Resource Kit For Teachers” continued, including the second edition in Arabic; a Korean version; and translation underway into: Mongolian, Hindi, Kiswahili, Lithuanian, and Tagalog. A version of Kit for the Pacific region is scheduled to be published by the end of the year. Other educational publications included a manual “Introducing Young People to Heritage Site Management and Protection” illustrating best-practice, which has been printed in collaboration with the UNESCO Amman Office. Work is in hand to produce new World Heritage multi-media education materials for secondary school, with national commissions from nine countries, as is work to secure legal protection of Patrimonito.
Expanding the circle of actors: international meetings and development of partnerships
World Heritage was designated as a cross cutting theme in the IUCN 5th World Parks Congress, during which World Heritage site managers, World Heritage Centre staff, other UN agency representatives gave 39 World Heritage related presentations. Two pre-congress workshops, on (i) Management Effectiveness and (ii) Marine World Heritage, were held, along with a 2-day lessons learned workshop for 11 UNF funded projects being carried out in World Heritage sites. Three dedicated World Heritage workshops, including one on "The Use of Transboundary World Heritage Nominations in Building a Comprehensive World Heritage List", formed part of the overall formal Congress programme, and well-attended side events were held for sustainable tourism, Marine World Heritage, and New Partnerships.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and Science Sector collaborated to highlight the importance of World Heritage at the 7th Conference of Parties (COP7) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9-20 February 2004). The 187 CBD States Parties, a majority of them being also World Heritage States Parties, adopted a global work programme on protected areas, making protected areas an even more significant funding priority for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the principal financing mechanism for CBD.
Work to expand the network of civil society actors, including corporate sector partners, willing to take action to implement the Committee’s priorities is underway and is reported in Document WHC-04/28.COM/20, as is work to expand the existing network of bi and multi-lateral partnerships with governments and intergovernmental institutions through, inter-alia, the development of specific agreements, the provision of staff and the mainstreaming of World Heritage into development programmes.
Special activity in support of World Heritage in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Preparations are underway for a 3-week event, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, to build awareness of the cultural and biological diversity of, and catalyze financial and technical support for, preserving the heritage of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An international donor’s conference for the 5 natural World Heritage sites in the DRC will be held on 16 and 17 September 2004. The conference will evaluate the existing four-year project “Biodiversity Conservation in Region of Armed Conflict” in support of the 5 sites and seek to mobilize additional resources to ensure sustainability of the project achievements. As part of the event, and thanks to the generous support of the Government of Belgium, an international exhibition, to be designed and produced by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium, the world’s leading museum and research institute on Congolese heritage, will be held from 9 to 26 September 2004 at UNESCO Headquarters.
The World Heritage Centre
Finally, but not least, the past year has witnessed a number of changes of personnel in the World Heritage Centre and work continues to achieve a structure that permits its staff properly to undertake the duties with which they are charged. However, critical staffing shortages in the Policy and Statutory Implementation Unit and Latin America and Caribbean units, as well as four senior posts that are currently or will become vacant in the near future, constrain the capacity to do so. While the 169th session of the Executive Board recognized that there remains a significant shortfall in the levels required to properly fulfill the World Heritage mission and requested that this be taken fully into account in the preparation of the 33C/5, transitional arrangements are being set in train for the current biennium.
The World Heritage Centre is grateful for the continued support of States Parties, ICOMOS, IUCN, ICCROM, UNESCO colleagues, and partners who have contributed to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention over the past year and in particular those whose extra budgetary contributions have facilitated so many of the meetings and activities that are vital to this work. Thank you.
Yours sincerely,

Francesco Bandarin


UNESCO World Heritage Centre

3 June 2004

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