If the constitution and politics of the WHC does stymie any attempt to move the 2022 venue from Kazan and remove Russia from the Chair then what might any WHC meeting which did take place look like? I have hypothesized as follows -
a. The WHC
This would consist solely of those States which were prepared to attend. I see nothing in the Operational Guidelines (OG) which sets a number for a quorum so, it would seem that a legally constituted "rump" WHC of whatever number, is still empowered to act as a WHC with all its "powers". I think there have been occasions in the past when at least one member of the WHC hasn't been present for some or all of the discussions but there has never been any suggestion that this invalidated anything decided
Would not go - Arg, Bel, Bul, Gr, It, Jap
Would go - Eth, Rus
Would probably go - Egy, India, Maldives, Mex, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, St Vinc, Saudi. S Afr, Zambia, Rwanda.
It is possible that a small number of these "abstainers" or "did not votes" on other related matters regarding Ukraine might also not attend - but it would seem that a WHC of no more than 15 members (or possibly slightly fewer) would "turn up"!
b. Advisory Bodies (ABs)
We have heard absolutely nothing as far as I can discover on the matter from ICOMOS, IUCN, ICCROM etc. The idea of a WHC without at least the first 2 would seem inconceivable....but would probably still be "constitutionally" OK? These bodies are completely separate from UNESCO and are entitled to make their own decisions. Would they turn up to a "rump" WHC boycotted by at least 46 States and around a third of the WHC. Would they regard their "voice" at such a meeting as not being capable of being "properly" heard and acted upon? If so they might decide that they couldn't maintain their political impartiality by attending..... On the other hand they might regard not attending as itself being a "political act! I have had a quick look at the "constitutions" of both ICOMOS and IUCN but it isn't clear how they would reach a decision on this matter. Their revenue streams are also potentially at risk from both ends! They will be in a difficult position if the meeting does go ahead as planned!! They must be hoping that the need for a decision is taken out of their hands!!
c. The Other "members"
It has never been clear to me how many of the States Parties which are NOT on the WHC actually send a delegation. Certainly not all. Those with nominations turn up to make their final pleas - as well as to make their acceptance speech if successful! Certain others facing issues regarding inscribed sites also turn up for the same reasons. A range of other organisations involved in "heritage" are also present beyond the main ABs and It is generally recognised that a significant value of the WHC lies in the "behind the scenes" networking on Heritage matters across all attendees. The loss of the contributions of at least 46 Countries would considerably reduce the "value" of the WHC and potentially turn its very existence and hence all of its decisions into a "political statement".
d. UNESCO/World Heritage Centre staff
If the 21 members of the WHC can make a decision on whether that body meets in Kazan under a Russian chair do the staff of the "World Heritage Centre" simply have to follow that decision and "turn up"? UNESCO has been trying hard to distance itself from the WHC decision - "UNESCO is at pains to emphasise that the decision on the meeting is not taken by UNESCO's leaders but by the members of the World Heritage Committee." but, if it does go ahead, then UNESCO itself can't avoid having to make its own decisions - and its own "constitutional arrangements" (which are different from those of the WHC) would come into play.
Generally it would seem that, if the WHC were to "decide" (either actively or, because it couldn't reach an agreement to the contrary, passively) not to alter the current arrangements for the WHC, the result would be a "mess". Other states and bodies would be forced to stop hiding behind the WHC decision making process and make their views public. The result would split the "heritage world". Any meeting which did take place, and all its decisions, would be tainted. The Olympic movement has faced such issues in the past with boycotts and has survived.... though the medals "won" at such games have never quite had the same credibility as others.
One aspect about all this which hits me is in just how much of a minority the countries "actively opposing" Russia via a policy of trying to alter the WHC arrangements are - a "mere" 46 - which is largely "European" and also includes a fair number of micro states.
( I list them again -
1 Afghanistan, 2 Albania, 3 Andorra, 4 Australia, 5 Austria, 6 Canada, 7 Colombia, 8 Croatia, 9 Cyprus, 10 Czech Republic, 11 Denmark, 12 Ecuador, 13 Estonia, 14 Finland, 15 France, 16 Georgia, 17 Germany, 18 Hungary, 19 Iceland, 20 Ireland, 21 Latvia, 22 Lithuania, 23 Luxembourg, 24 Malta, 25 Moldova, 26 Monaco, 27 Montenegro, 28 Netherlands, 29 New Zealand, 30 Nigeria, 31 North Macedonia, 32 Norway, 33 Peru, 34 Poland, 35 Portugal, 36 Republic of Korea, 37 Romania, 38 Saint Kitts & Nevis. 39 San Marino, 40 Slovakia, 41 Slovenia, 42 Spain, 43 Sweden, 45 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 44 Ukraine, 46 United States of America).
Every country in the G7 but, from the G20, no Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey.
It is perhaps too easy to take a "Eurocentric" view on this matter and expect every country to see a war in Ukraine through the same eyes. They clearly do not!!