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Cairns Decision Amended

An amendment to the hotly debated Cairns Decision was adopted by the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee Monday, insiders said.

Each State Party at the World Heritage Convention can have two complete nominations to be examined at the 30th session in 2006, provided that at least one of such nomination concerns a natural site, Guo Zhan, an official with the State Cultural Relics Bureau said.

The amended Decision also sets an annual limit on the number of nominations at 45, including nominations deferred and referred by previous sessions, transboundary nominations and nominations submitted on an emergency basis, he said.

The amended Decision will work as a transitory mechanism, which will be examined at the 31st session of the committee in 2007.

The Cairns Decision used to limit each member state to one nomination each year, because a number of the countries had no site on the heritage list at all. But some countries believe the limit does not conform with the Convention.

On the same day, the session evaluated the preservation status of 121 world heritage sites.

Five Chinese sites, which sent reports concerning their protection status as required, have not been inscribed on the "in Danger" list.

The Classical Gardens in Suzhou of Jiangsu Province and the Wudang Mountains in Hubei Province will not be asked to send reports next year.

Experts from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) concluded that the location of the new Suzhou Museum, which is close to the Zhuozheng Garden, a world heritage site, will not harm the garden.

"There were few disputes over the expert's conclusions on the issue during the session, and Suzhou will not need to send any additional reports," said Guo.

The protection status of Wudang Mountain were examined this year because one of the ancient buildings on the mountain was destroyed by a fire.

After the accident, local management officials equipped the site with fire extinguishers, set up firefighting stations, and built 27 reservoirs.

"The committee believed it was an accident that can happen to any site. In addition, the local government has noticed it and taken measures to correct the mistake. Therefore, the site will not need to submit a report next year," Guo said.

However, the Imperial Palace of Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing, Potala Palace in Tibet Autonomous Region and the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area in Yunnan Province, will have to send more detailed reports at the next session at the committee suggestion.

By yesterday, three sites were removed from the List of World Heritage In Danger and three new sites were added to the list.

The three sites removed from the list are Angkor of Cambodia, Bahla Fort of Oman, and the Rwenzori Mountains National Park of Uganda.

Two were added to the endangered list yesterday: the Cathedral of Cologne in Germany, the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and the Ruins of Songo Mnara in Tanzania.

The third newly-added is Iran's Ancient City of Bam, which was inscribed onto the endangered list after being inscribed to the World Heritage List this year.

(China Daily July 6, 2004)

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