NEW WORLD HERITAGE SITES PROPOSED
By Henry Lamb
Among the few people who know about this list, some are elated, and some are furious. The vast majority of people -- including elected officials -- have no idea how, or by whom, the list was formulated, why it is being proposed, or what the significance of listing may be.
The list is required by the 1972 World Heritage Treaty, ratified by the United States government. Each member-nation is required to update its “inventory” of possible sites for listing every two years. UNESCO then designates the sites it chooses. The last two sites added to UNESCO’s list were Carlsbad Caverns, and Glacier National Park, in 1995. In both instances, local elected officials had no idea that the sites were even being considered, until the announcement was made by UNESCO.
Ratification of the treaty obligates the United States to recognize that, once a site is listed as a World Heritage Site, “... such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate.” Essentially, once a site is listed, a state (country) is obligated “to do all it can” to provide “protection, conservation, presentation, and transmission to future generations.”
If the state (country) is not doing what the World Heritage Committee thinks it should do to protect a listed site, it may declare the site to be a “World Heritage Site in Danger.” Yellowstone National Park, designated a World Heritage Site in 1978, provides an excellent example of the significance of this designation.
In 1987, the New World Mine, located on privately owned property nearly three miles from Yellowstone, began expanding development of an old mine that had been in operation since 1875. The operators expected to mine $750 million in gold from the project. The company spent nearly three years and $37 million in the development of an Environmental Impact Statement, reviewed by 20 state and federal agencies.
After meeting every objection raised by the agencies, and opposition by environmentalist organizations, and within months of the deadline for a final decision by the U.S. national government, the World Heritage Committee intervened. At the request of a coalition of environmentalist organizations, and an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Interior, UNESCO sent a delegation to evaluate the World Heritage Site.
Bernd von Droste, Director of the World Heritage Centre, concluded that:
The mining permit was not granted. New plans were launched to limit visitors’ use of the park, and to reduce the use of snowmobiles. Nearly 18 million acres surrounding the park were subjected to more stringent regulations.
Despite outcries from the general public, from local and state elected officials and from Congressmen, the treaty-required protections prevailed. Re-read Article 6 (1) above, in light of this Yellowstone experience. National sovereignty doesn’t seem to get much respect, nor does private property and the legislatively authorized permitting process, when confronted by the enforcers of the World Heritage Treaty. Know too, that the Everglades National Park is a “World Heritage Site in Danger.” Know too, that any World Heritage Site can be listed as a World Heritage Site in Danger, anytime a U.S. federal agency decides to request that UNESCO do so.
Whenever private citizens or elected officials become obstacles to the agenda advanced by environmentalist organizations and their political allies among agency officials, the World Heritage Treaty is readily available to remove the obstacles and crush the hopes, dreams, and American constitutional guarantees that are meaningless to UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee.
Civil Liberties -- Private Property Rights
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Henry Lamb is Founder and Executive Vice President of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), which was
established in 1988 to protect property rights from erosion by excessive environmental regulations. Lamb is also Chairman
of Sovereignty International, an organization opposed to world government and to the statist policy agendas of political
environmentalists, global-warming alarmists, and Leftwing Liberals.
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