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Decision
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Keywords
Conservation, Funds
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25. The Chairperson of the General Assembly referred to document 31C/REP.15 Report by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage on its Activities (2000-2001). He explained that the World Heritage Committee, at its sixteenth session held in December 1992 in Santa Fe, United States of America, recommended that the report which the Committee addressed to the General Conference also be presented to the General Assembly of States Parties.

26. Dr Christina Cameron (Canada), Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee presented the report of the Committee (a copy of Dr Cameron's speech is included as Annex I of this report) and introduced two Draft Resolutions to be examined by the General Assembly:

  • Draft Resolution presented by the Bureau of the Committee on the protection of the cultural heritage of Afghanistan (WHC-2001/CONF.206/2B); and
  • Draft Resolution presented by Mr Peter King (former Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee) - proposal for a new additional voluntary contribution by States Parties to the World Heritage Fund (WHC-2001/CONF.206/2C).

27. With reference to the first Draft Resolution, she remarked that the destruction of the ancient statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan on 12 March 2001 had brought a new focus on the need to strengthen the safeguarding of the common heritage of humankind. In June 2001 the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee discussed ways to strengthen the protection of heritage.

28. Dr Cameron stated that this Draft Resolution should be examined in the context of the debate and Draft Resolution of the UNESCO General Conference on “Acts constituting a Crime against the Common Heritage of Humanity”. She thanked the representative of the Director-General, Mr Bouchenaki, for having referred, in his opening speech, to the important discussions that took place on this subject in Commission IV of the General Conference the previous Saturday.

29. With reference to the second Draft Resolution, Dr Cameron noted that in the last two years many States Parties had benefited from International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund. Hundreds of requests for assistance to prepare nominations, tentative lists, management conservation plans and to organise training workshops had been supported. The sustainability of this support however, had been questioned. In his letter of 2 July 2001, Mr Peter King (then Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee) commented that "in the long term I believe that the compulsory contribution by States Parties of 1% of the contribution to the Regular Budget indicated in the Convention is outdated". In noting that there were also many other fiscal initiatives that must be examined to enhance the protection of World Heritage, Mr King called for the support of all States Parties to a voluntary additional contribution to the World Heritage Fund.

30. Dr Cameron advised that after considering the financial statements as at 31 December 2000, the Comptroller of UNESCO highlighted the World Heritage Fund’s position in relation to cash reserves. He indicated that during 2001 the financial resources of the Fund would be fully stretched. The only other resources were locked in the US$2,000,000 outstanding debts from States Parties, a significant asset which was not available.

31. The Chairperson of the General Assembly congratulated Dr Cameron and expressed satisfaction with the work accomplished by the Committee to date. The General Assembly took note of the report.

32. The Chairperson referred to the Draft Resolution on the protection of the cultural heritage of Afghanistan submitted by the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-fifth session (Paris, 25-30 June 2001) (document WHC-2001/CONF.206/2B). He noted that the international community voiced deep concern when the statues of Bamiyan were destroyed. He stated that the General Assembly might wish to amend the wording of the Draft Resolution to reflect the current situation.

33. The Delegate of Greece questioned the procedure whereby the Bureau prepared the Draft Resolution without seeking the views of the Committee. She stated that the Bureau had no legal authority to do so. The Director of the World Heritage Centre stated that this situation had occurred due to the calendar of meetings whereby the Committee was not scheduled to meet until December. The Delegate of Thailand stated that if the Draft Resolution had been put to the Committee, it would have definitely been adopted.

34. The Resolution concerning "Acts constituting a crime against the common heritage of humanity" adopted by Commission IV on 27 October 2001 for adoption by the UNESCO General Conference, was distributed to the General Assembly. This Resolution was read to the General Assembly by the Director of the World Heritage Centre (see Annex II).

35. Recalling that the situation in Afghanistan had changed since the Bureau prepared the Draft Resolution, the Chairperson of the General Assembly requested that a small working group comprising the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, interested delegations and the Secretariat meet to make amendments, in light of the Resolution concerning "Acts constituting a crime against the common heritage of humanity". The revised Draft Resolution was proposed and adopted by the General Assembly by consensus (see Annex III).

36. The Chairperson of the General Assembly then referred to the second Draft Resolution presented by Mr Peter King which was a proposal for a new additional voluntary contribution by States Parties to the World Heritage Fund (WHC-2001/CONF.206/2C).

37. The Delegate of Spain advised the General Assembly that it was a complex issue that required considerable thought and further study, commenting that the proposed voluntary contribution was actually compulsory. Following this, he stated that without further study and explanation of the rationale, Spain could not accept the Draft Resolution. The Delegate of Greece agreed and stated that voluntary contributions were not a predictable way to secure funds. Furthermore, she stated that the World Heritage Committee, the statutory organ to define strategy, had not been consulted about this Draft Resolution. She suggested that every State Party to the Convention should encourage the establishment of public and private means to provide further funding for World Heritage.

38. The Delegate of Belgium gave credit to the former Chairperson for the ideas presented in the Draft Resolution but stated that an increase of 1% in voluntary contributions was minor. She commented that additional funding should be sought through, for instance, co-operative arrangements. She mentioned that several proposals suggested by States Parties in response to Mr King's proposals had not been made available to the General Assembly and that this issue needed to be more thoroughly prepared and investigated. She suggested that the decision be referred to the World Heritage Committee.

39. The Director of the World Heritage Centre announced that he would make the responses of States Parties to Mr King's proposals available to the General Assembly (see Annex IV)

40. The Delegate of Thailand stated that before proposing the Draft Resolution, Mr King had approached States Parties at the Bureau and Committee session in Cairns. The idea of the Draft Resolution was not to change the provisions of the Convention (Article 16). He noted that table 1 in the Draft Resolution may lead to some misunderstanding as the figures under "proposed additional voluntary contribution of 1% US$" were too specific. He advised that the word "additional" should be changed to "supplementary".

41. The Delegates of Lithuania, Uruguay, Finland, Hungary, Panama and Japan supported the Delegate of Spain and requested that more time be given to consider the Draft Resolution in greater depth. The Delegate of Argentina suggested that resources be strengthened by active, imaginative and efficient identification of extra budgetary resources and a reallocation of resources within UNESCO's regular budget. The Delegate of Benin commented that a 1% voluntary contribution set a ceiling which was undesirable as States Parties may want to give more. The Delegate of Finland stressed that States Parties who had not paid their contributions to the World Heritage Fund should pay their dues. The Delegate of Israel suggested that the Secretariat take note of the States Parties' responses to the Draft Resolution and provide the General Assembly with an analysis of voluntary and compulsory contributions related to the number of World Heritage sites within each State Party.

42. The Director of the World Heritage Centre agreed that a ceiling could not be put on voluntary contributions to the World Heritage Fund and that there was no upper limit. 1% was chosen for its simplicity. He also informed the General Assembly that the Draft Resolution also proposed a US$300 minimum contribution to the World Heritage Fund for all States Parties.

43. Following these remarks, the Chairperson of the General Assembly suggested that the matter be deferred and that the World Heritage Committee examine the Draft Resolution in greater depth. This decision was adopted by the General Assembly.