26 March 2003

After a difficult 6-day "extraordinary session," the World Heritage Committee last week finally agreed on the 12th Revision of the Operational Guidelines for the management of sites listed under the World Heritage Convention. This decision brings an end to a grueling two-year multi-level negotiating process undertaken in response to a challenge of the existing Guidelines' provisions. This challenge originally focused on three key processes by which the Convention seeks to maintain its standards for listing World Heritage sites -- a type of "branding" that is recognised by tourists, donors, conservationists and scientists around the world. Those three processes are "reactive monitoring" (determining whether the site is being harmed or deteriorating), "in danger" listing (identifying sites which are threatened by outside forces, neglect or mismanagement, and for which extraordinary measures are needed to preserve its "outstanding universal value") and "de-listing" (removing the site's "World Heritage" status, because its "outstanding universal value" has been lost.) In essence, if the challenge had suceeded, these key processes could only have gone forward with the approval of the concerned State Party, meaning that the World Heritage "brand" would cease to be a dependable indicator of quality. IUCN is named in the World Heritage Convention as one of three "advisory bodies" to the Convention, and in that capacity played a key role in these negotiations. The IUCN delegation, headed by Pedro Rosabal Gonzales, included a legal officer from the ELC, and was further supported by critical research undertaken in 2002 by a team of CEL experts.


Original URL was: iucn.org/themes/law/index200201.html

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