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What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? Forum / What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? /  

Arabian Oryx delisting

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 04:45 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Some interesting "facts" in this article about the Oryx delisting

It seems to me that it tells a slightly different story from that put out before. How correct it is I know not but the comment from this year's chairperson from WHC was interesting -it ties in with Mr van de Aa's article about some other sites not wanting to be inscribed eg Cambridge - see the Wadden Sea link under "Resource Library" from Meltwaterfalls. Els has previously mentioned Amsterdam as city which sees little benefit in listing.

Oman obviously felt it wasn't worth the candle to keep the Oryx sanctuary. Thinking about it, the impact on tourism was nil - I couldn't even get to visit the site properly when I was there (see my review) - I also note that Rob Wilson hasn't done a review so I assume that he never got to it during his stay in Oman? And, secondly, the area seemed too large to mantain security and preserve the oryx anyway.

But the snippet about Canada/US not wanting the Oryx sanctuary to be delisted was new to me. I wonder why
a. they were against delisting - perhaps they didn't want Oil exploration to be used as a reason for delisting thus creating a precedent for some of their own sites? (Has Xeres got any info on the reason for the Canadian position?)
b. UNESCO was so determined to go for it - I am sure it was to send a warning shot to other sites such as Dresden! As stated before I feel that Dresden could justify the same stance as Amsterdam re the benefits/negatives of listing - though I suppose being kicked out is always more ignominious than not having been inscribed at all! (PS - in the paper on Universal Value among the 2008 papers IUCN can't desist from making the "dig" that WHC inscribed the Oryx sanctuary against its own reccomendation!)

It does seem unfortunate if we are reaching a stage where world class sites (which the Oryx sanctuary wasn't but some others potentially impacted by the decision certainly are) don't want to face the hassle of inscription. Instead the List will more and more become the preserve of "medium ranking" sites representing seekers after tourist money (San Miguel and many from China?) and States wanting to make "Nationalistic" statements (China, Mauritius, Cambodia, Malaysia?).

Author paul
#2 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 06:47 
The situation in Amsterdam is a bit more subtle. In the early days the city was worried about house prices and planning restrictions - we should not forget that in the late 70s there were plans to build a motorway through the centre of Amsterdam, redevelop the Jordaan as a carpark and the Pijp as a train station. However; since the 90s when the historic centre became protected by local law there as been an effort by the city to gain inscription. For Dutch readers here is a link to Amsterdam's local paper with a good summary.

Author Xeres
#3 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 09:36 
I was unable to find any definite information on the reasons for Canada's opposition to the delisting of the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, however I can speculate.
Canada's representative may not have believed that the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary deserved delisting because it still satisfied the WHS criteria, however, considering how every one else didn't believe that it satisfied the criteria (including the Omanians), this seems unlikely.
Solivagant has a good point about the delisting in Oman possibly setting a precedent for delistings in Canada based on oil. One of Canada's WHS, Wood Buffalo National Park, is located over possible (undeveloped oil reserves), and right next to developed oil reserves (the Athabasca tar sands) which could affect its ecological integrity. Also Ivvavik / Vuntut / Herschel Island (Qikiqtaruk), on Canada's tentative list, are located over undeveloped oil reserves.

Interestingly enough, the Sultan of Oman wanted the Oryx Sanctuary to be off the WHS list. I suppose this gives him a more free hand, less conservationists pestering him,

Finally, a correction. The Washington Post article mentions the U.S. supporting Oman's position, which is that the site should be delisted. Only Canada opposed.

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 10:22 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Thanks for the link re Amsterdam Paul. I make no claim to speak Dutch and the Babelfish translation to English was idiosyncratic to say the least -but I got the gist.

One VERY interesting comment I noted (assuming my understanding of the Translation was correct) was that, during the 4 years of Dutch Membership of the WHC, the NL decided NOT to submit ANY sites for inscription
" the Netherlands will put itself candidate as a member of the committee for the Werelderfgoed. 2003 that happened in October 2003, with of of the plough as a head of the Dutch delegation. The Netherlands let know that it was during the four years that the member of the committee, himself no recitations would submit. That was within the framework of the independence of the committee super-correct and meanwhile follows other countries always more often the Dutch example. The consequence was much that the matter celebrates year, up to October 2007, entirely quiet lay."

This seems in distinct contrast to the comments about the Japanese delegate helping to gain that country's 2007 inscription. It is surprising that such a "self denying ordinance" isn't written into the WHC constitution - though they might not get so many "volunteers" if they did!! I wonder which approach is the more "normal" - to nominate or not when a WHC member?

Author paul
#5 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 10:38 
It is true! It was a concious, public and very Dutch decision NOT to submit any proposals while sitting on the committee.

Author Solivagant
#6 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 11:05 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Well done the Dutch!! In distinct contrast to much of what seems to go on in relation to these matters. I note that Israel was a member of the Committee which inscribed Bahai!
I will try to put together a list of the members of each year's committee (unless this info is already simply tabulated somewhere??) -we can then look for a correlation!

Author elsslots
#7 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 11:58 
of of the plough

Haha! The name of the man that was head of the delegation is Van der Ploeg (which literally means "of the plough" indeed)

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 12 Aug 2008 12:22 | Edited by: Solivagant 
It occurs to me that, if the Sultan of Oman wanted the Oryx Sanctuary "off the list", all he had to do was withdraw it (I doubt if the "democratic" institutions of Oman would have prevented this!!) - thus avoiding all the fuss, bother, international opprobrium and "precedent" of a "delisting"!!
Does anyone know if the procedures allow a States Party unilaterally to withdraw a previously inscribed site? I have had a quick look through the 290 paragraphs of the Operational Guidelines - but I get the impression that UNESCO never thought that any country might decide to withdraw a site!

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 Arabian Oryx delisting

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