World Heritage 1994 Phuket Meeting

Peter Stott (pstott@PEG.APC.ORG)
Fri, 16 Dec 1994 06:16:02 +1000

/* Written 2:23 PM Dec 14, 1994 by igc:pstott in peg:gen.landmarks */

P H U K E T, T H A I L A N D '94
A daily report covering the activities of the World Heritage
Committee, meeting in Phuket, Thailand, December 12-17, 1994
Vol. III, No. 2 Tuesday, Dec. 13


PHUKET, THAILAND. This afternoon the World Heritage Committee placed
the Virunga National Park in Zaire, Africa's oldest national park, on the
List of the World's Heritage in Danger. The Committee did so after
extensive evidence presented today by the Committee's technical advisor,
IUCN-The World Conservation Union, that Rwandan refugees and Hutu soldiers
in camps around the town of Goma in eastern Zaire had partly or completely
deforested some 300 square kilometers of park land. IUCN's spokesman, Dr.
Jim Thorsell, stated that Virunga was probably the most threatened of all
World Heritage natural sites. Last year the committee granted emergency
assistance to Zaire to pay for park staff, who had not been paid for over a
year. Last July, however, almost 1 million refugees from the Rwandan Civil
War moved into the border area of the park. The greatest danger was the
threat that this posed to the small community of Mountain gorillas, a
species already on the edge of extinction. Established in 1925 by the
Belgian colonial authorities as the Albert National Park, Virunga was
inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979. It is the fifth ecological
site to be placed on the List of the World Heritage in Danger. Established
by the 1972 World Heritage Convention itself, the World Heritage in Danger
List is designed to call the world's attention to natural or manmade
conditions which threaten the characteristics for which the site was
originally inscribed on the World Heritage List.


** Monitoring of the State of Conservation of World Heritage sites.
The entire day was devoted to the agenda item dealing with monitoring
conditions at existing world heritage sites. The morning's session opened
with a presentation by Mr. Silvio Mutal, who described his continuing work
in the UNESCO/UNDP regional project, monitoring sites in Latin America and
the Caribbean. Rather than describe the results of the monitoring project
in detail, however, he limited his presentation to the conclusions of his
report, emphasizing that in his view, the most effective conservation and
monitoring could only be accomplished if the expert organizations involved
worked in partnership with developers and development agencies. His own
project, which had been in place since 1991, was a clear demonstration of
the value of regional monitoring projects.

The Secretary General of ICOMOS, Jean-Louis Luxen, provided an overview of
ICOMOS efforts to develop a monitoring methodology. Monitoring, he
explained, must be considered as a dynamic and continuing process extending
over the life of a site. Nevertheless, monitoring must also inform
conservation activities far beyond individual sites; it was an opportunity
for close cooperation between different organizations and agencies engaged
in the process. Organizations need to pool their collective evidence.
ICOMOS had already started this process by establishing a database to serve
monitoring efforts. 'Blue Shield' sites designated under the Hague
Convention provisions would also be included. Referring to Mr. Mutal's
earlier presentation, the Secretary General agreed that monitoring worked
best in a regional approach where sites in similar cultures could be more
readily evaluated. These concerns informed the most recent ICOMOS
initiatives, which the ICOMOS World Heritage Coordinator, Henry Cleere,
went on to describe.

Dr. Cleere commented that the recent World Heritage Centre report,
"Methodology for Systematic Monitoring and Reporting" (CONF.003/6 part A)
which came out of the Cambridge monitoring meeting in 1993 did not fully
address several key issues. The 'methodology' proposed was an
administrative methodology, concerned with institutional process; it says
much less about how monitoring will take place at sites. With this in mind,
Dr. Cleere offered ICOMOS's observations from their recent monitoring
exercise in Sri Lanka. Out of this exercise, the monitoring team developed
several guiding principles: 1) Respectful monitoring must take full use of
the culture of the place; 2) Monitoring should take advantage of
established international doctrine, such as the Venice Charter, and other
standards; 3) Monitoring must be done in full cooperation with the site
authorities, although it was observed that the 'site manager' of a site as
complex as a World Heritage city was sometimes hard to identify; 4) there
must be a fixed frame of reference for each site (baseline data); 5) the
monitoring process must be careful to distinguish between diagnosis and
prognosis; 6) Reports made to the World Heritage Committee must include a
clear course of action; 7) As needed, monitoring should involve outside
experts; and its corollary 8) experts chosen should have the skills and
background to match the needs of the site. Each report should also pay
attention to the articulation of values that a site represents; each site
must have a character statement that should be continuously under review.
These values _must_ be communicated to site managers so that they will be
alert to any threats to these values.

Dr. Cleere referred the Committee to the checklist that had been assembled
as a result of the Sri Lankan exercise.

Mr. Harold Eidsvik for the World Heritage Centre followed the ICOMOS
presentation, describing the Centre's initiatives in Africa, south of the
Sahel. The Centre he noted, had been represented at the October 1994
IUCN/CNPPA meeting of 150 protected area managers at Kruger National Park,
South Africa. Twenty-eight World Heritage Site manages had been in
attendance. The meeting included two sessions on World Heritage. Mr.
Eidsvik noted with approval that the Centre's knowledge base concerning
African World heritage sites was good; all of the sites but two were
represented by recent site files in the Paris office. Nevertheless, the
region's problems are the most severe, and largely endemic to the region.
Most parks are affected by poaching, illegal wildlife trade, lack of staff
and budgets, often political instability, and by the underlying poverty and
population pressures of the region. Major infusions of capital would be
needed if this deterioration was to be halted. He anticipated that funds
may be made available to address some of these needs from the Biodiversity
Convention and from the Global Environmental Facility. Requests for
training assistance continues to increase. Among local site managers, there
was an almost total lack of knowledge of World Heritage.

After the mid-morning break, the Chair invited comments and questions from
the Committee delegates. Germany said that the lesson it received from the
presentations was that there were quite a lot of ways to promote World
Heritage sites; consequently it was important to remain flexible, and not
be locked into one promotional program. The delegate from Cyprus praised
Mr. Mutal's report. He observed that for most tourist sites, monitoring
took place on a day-to-day basis; sites less visited need only be examined
once a year. Most countries, he added, now have their own experts; there
was little need to call in outside advice. In any case, local authorities
would have the last word. The Chinese delegate expressed pleasure with the
progress that had been made in the discussion of monitoring since the
meeting in Santa Fe (December 1992). He trusted that the three advisory
bodies, working through national experts, would continue to play a vital
role in the monitoring process. France praised Silvio Mutal's report,
suggesting that it met the challenge of site monitoring in a very pragmatic
fashion. His approach should be adopted for other regions. It was important
to link this regional approach to a global, holistic approach, combining
the experience of all the regional offices with that of the Centre.

Germany recalled that earlier discussions of monitoring had referred to a
'unique framework' for monitoring [natural as opposed to cultural sites?].
After the morning's presentations, however, it was not clear whether there
were still unique points. In response, Dr. Cleere called attention to the
group of eight guiding principles ICOMOS had evolved out of the Sri Lankan
monitoring exercise: of the eight points, seven were equally applicable to
natural and cultural sites. The IUCN spokesperson, Dr. Thorsell, noted that
monitoring the natural heritage was considerably easier than monitoring the
cultural heritage. Among the reasons were the much smaller number of
natural than cultural sites; eleven years of experience in regular
monitoring; an extensive global network of expertise; and the facilities of
the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

The U.S. delegate reminded the Committee that they should not only be
concerned about the content of the information, but how it was stored. If
it was to be effectively used, it must be in a digital form that could be
readily transferred from one computer system to another, as well as over
the Internet. Data that had to be reformatted in order to work on more than
one system should be avoided.

Dr. von Droste noted that the role of the Centre was to bring forward a
unifying approach. In particular, communication with site managers
themselves was very important, so that site managers could be kept informed
about how to evaluate changes in site conditions. The Centre would have to
rationalize the baseline data assessment process, unifying the different
types of information being collected. The Centre would develop a computer
database for baseline information, and it could help provide training in
the collection and management of this information. All forms of technical
assistance should have a monitoring component. Finally, a major question
the Centre would have to deal with was how to respond to the much greater
number of monitoring reports.

The Chair, anxious to conclude the methodology discussion, wished to know
what action the Committee would take on the Centre's monitoring report. He
noted that Section A.7 asks specific actions from the Committee. Although
two actions were still be to discussed in working groups, would the
Committee be willing to agree to A.7.c? This paragraph would request the
Secretariat to:
a) prepare a revised nomination format so that adequate baseline data
could be provided with each future inscription on the World Heritage
b) organize an expert meeting on World Heritage information management
in early 1995;
c) invite States Parties to put monitoring structures in place and
report on a property's state of conservation every five years;
d) incorporate monitoring as a management tool in World Heritage
training courses and other activities; and
e) report to the next meeting of the Bureau on the implementation of
these decisions.

Discussion followed. Italy noted that the role of civil authorities was
very important in designing a management structure. There needed to be
developed a 'culture' of the heritage, and private organizations were very
important in this regard. The observer from India expressed concern over
changes being made in monitoring procedures. Noting that monitoring was the
responsibility of the State Parties, the observer made the statement that
the establishment of monitoring procedures was outside the scope of the
Committee. He said that the Committee should consult all State Parties
before proceeding.

The Chair took note of the comments and asked if the actions recommended by
A.7.c were acceptable to the Committee. There being no objection, the Chair
determined that the Committee agreed with the recommended action.

Before adjourning for lunch, the Australian observer announced that four
aboriginal people from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Northern Territory)
were attending the meeting and would be pleased to meet anyone attending
the meeting during the afternoon.

The afternoon session opened with the presentation by the IUCN
spokesperson, Dr. Jim Thorsell. Noting that this was the 11th year in which
IUCN had produced monitoring reports for the Committee, he added that this
year only those seven sites requiring action by the Committee were being
presented. Monitoring reports from another seven sites, in which no action
was required, was also included in the IUCN written report.

Virunga National Park (Zaire) led the seven sites presented by the IUCN
spokesperson. This site is discussed above.

Air-Tenere National Nature Reserve (Niger). This site had come before the
committee for the last two years as a result of civil unrest in northern
Niger. In 1992 the Committee had inscribed the park on the List of the
World Heritage in Danger. A peace accord signed in October of this year may
allow the wildlife population to recover. The site should remain on the
'Danger' List, but the Committee should write the new government in Niger
reminding them of their international responsibilities in the Air-Tenere.

Keoladeo National Park (India). The park had originally been inscribed on
the World Heritage List in 1985 as it was the winter habitat of 41 Siberian
Cranes. Since then the number has declined, and last winter there were
none. The extinction of this population is probably due to their migratory
route from Siberia over Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they became victims
of hunters. IUCN recommends waiting for one additional year to see if any
of the crane population returns. If not, the Committee should ask India to
consider delisting the site. After brief discussion, Agreed.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania). This site had been before the
Committee at its Cartagena meeting last year. In response to food scarcity,
local residents had been allowed into the conservation area to practice
cultivation on a temporary basis. Expanded cultivation on steep slopes
unsuited to agriculture, and serious impacts on vegetation and wildlife
caused by the larger population threatened the integrity of the site.
However, IUCN had met with local park authorities who are planning
corrective action that may alleviate the worst problems. Placing the site
on the Danger list would send the wrong message at this time. Rather, the
Committee should write the Tanzanian authorities, encouraging them to take
various actions that would diffuse the cultivation issue. Agreed.

Serengeti National Park (Tanzania). Despite extensive management
improvements to this park, serious problems were observed during the last
IUCN site visit in October. These included extensive commercial poaching
and consequent decline in several key species populations including
buffalo, eland, and giraffe. Regional population pressures are leading to
local depletions of wildlife and fuelwood. New tourist developments have
been constructed without adequate input from local park authorities. The
Committee should write to the Tanzanian authorities on these issues. It
might also wish to encourage Kenya to nominate the adjacent Marsai Mara
Reserve. Agreed.

Redwood National Park (USA). The California Department of Transportation
has proposed a new road alignment for US highway 101 which would result in
the loss of almost 200 old-growth redwoods. There is no recognition in the
CDOT Environmental Impact Statement that the site is on the World Heritage
List. The National Park Service, as well as many local conservation
organizations have expressed concern about this project. The Committee
should suggest to American authorities that the state DOT recognize the
international importance of the site, and that the Committee be kept
informed of decisions on this issue. Agreed.

Great Barrier Reef (Australia). A very large tourism development was being
planned for the vicinity of the reef. Although the Minister of the
Environment has put a temporary stop to the project, the Committee should
write a letter in support of the Minister's decision. Agreed.

At the conclusion of the IUCN presentation, the Chair invited Mr. Molyvann
Vann, Senior Minister in charge of Culture and Fine Arts in Cambodia, to
report on the situation at Angkor. The Minister, in extended remarks,
described the background circumstances leading to the protection of Angkor
after King Norodum Sihaouk had launched a successful campaign to protect
the extensive site in 1992. He described the five year contingency plan and
the goals that had been set and reached for the period 1992-95. Noting that
today one of the greatest problems facing the monumental complex was art
theft, the Minister concluded by launching an appeal to all those countries
which are signatory to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and
Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural
Property. Between 1991 and 1993, he said, the plundering of temples that
had taken place bordered on the catastrophic. Far more had been lost in
that period than in six centuries of abandonment of the site. He urged that
all countries notify Interpol and the Cambodian government whenever a piece
is recovered from Angkor.

The Chair thanked the Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia for the
encouraging information about improvements at the site.

The Deputy General of Unesco, Mr. Badran, asked for a few minutes of the
Committee's time before he returned to Paris later that afternoon. After
thanking again Mr. Wichiencharoen and the Royal Thai Government for hosting
the meeting, he reiterated the points on which the Director General wanted
the feedback of the Committee: functional autonomy and decentralization. On
the former point, he stressed again that Unesco considered World Heritage a
"pillar of Unesco." The DG's intention was to STRENGTHEN the World Heritage
Centre and for this reason was now agreeing to cover the whole of staff
costs in future biennial allocations. In addition, there would also be some
seed funds. On the issue of decentralization, he urged the Committee to
consider its alternatives carefully. The modality established in the
science sector was working very well. Tight agreements were essential
between the Centre and regional offices so that all parties knew exactly
what was being offered and accepted. The use of consultants often
represented a smaller budgetary drain than the hiring of additional
permanent staff.

The databases that the Centre was planning would be connected to the
Internet, Mr. Badran continued. A local area network (LAN) was now in the
Centre's budget and within 1-2 months would be completed. He explained that
Unesco already had a Unix platform with Internet access, but that only LANs
had access to this platform.

The issue of a marketing plan, Mr. Badran noted, would require the most
dialogue among Committee members, but he reminded delegates that commercial
marketing is not an issue; the Committee requested such a plan at its Santa
Fe meeting in December 1992. If it proved difficult to reach consensus at
this meeting, he urged that the Committee delegate authority to its Chair,
the Director of the Centre, and the Director General for resolution at a
later time.

Although the Chair had hoped to take up the state of conservation of
cultural properties after the break, various delegates requested time to
speak to the issues Mr. Badran had raised. Italy complained that there had
been too little time to examine the documents outlining these proposals and
that there was insufficient time for debate. He detected a subtle thread in
all of the documents portending major changes. Why was the Secretariat
continuing to work in an area [marketing] not approved by the Committee? He
was opposed to the principle of giving the Centre the autonomy envisaged by
the documents. France echoed Italy's concerns, adding that the
decentralization proposal was designed to thwart the intention of the
Convention. This document ["Examination of Unesco's Medium-Term Plan 1996-
2001 and World Heritage Conservation," CONF-003/4] encroaches on
sovereignty and would have to be approved by all signatory states. Germany
and Brazil spoke to voice their agreement with France.

The Director of the Centre, Dr. von Droste, reminded the delegates again
that the Secretariat was acting on the wishes of the Committee as expressed
in Santa Fe, as Mr. Badran had indicated. The proposals on fundraising were
only proposals and it was up to the Committee to debate these in working
groups and on the floor. No change was proposed for the Convention; indeed,
the proposed autonomy structure would give the Committee even greater
supervision over the activities of the Centre. In the DG's plan, World
Heritage would be the 'flagship' for Unesco; in no way would our actions be
outside of Unesco. The Director General is entirely open to the
recommendations of the Committee.

As the time had arrived for the first Working Group to meet, the meeting
adjourned until 9 am Wednesday morning.

W o r l d H e r i t a g e C o m m i t t e e
------ XVIII Annual Session, Phuket, Thailand, December 12-17, 1994 ------
This distribution is made possible through grants from the Samuel H. Kress
Foundation; the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training;
the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and Tufts University's School of
Arts and Sciences. It has been organized with the support of the Inter-
national Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and its Canadian and U.S.
national committees, ICOMOS Canada and US/ICOMOS. It has had the technical
support of the Pegasus Networks (Australia) and the Institute for Global
Communications (U.S.).
The reports are those of an observer of the meetings and do not represent
official publications of ICOMOS, the World Heritage Centre, or any dele-
Inquiries to the editor, Peter Stott
<> or fax to (66-76) 340-479 between December 12 and 17