The World Heritage Conventionand the National Park Service, 1993–2009Peter StottIntroductionThis essay is the last in a series of three on the role of the National Park Service (NPS) inthe World Heritage Convention.1 As recounted in the two preceding essays, the ConventionConcerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the “World HeritageConvention”), was adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganization (UNESCO) in 1972. The United States, and the National Park Service inparticular, had impo rtant roles in its development and in negotiations leading to its adoption.The Office of International Affairs (OIA), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011,participated in all phases of that development. This essay recounts the US role betweenthe 1992 twentieth anniversary session in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the end of its fourthmandate on the 21-member World Heritage Committee in 2009. The essay also pays tributeto the late Robert C. Milne (1939–2012), the long-time chief of OIA, 1975–1995, whoseefforts provided the foundation for much of OIA’s work in the first decades of the convention.(Milne’s death on 23 September 2012 followed less than a week after that of his long-timefriend Russell Train, who is known as the “father of World Heritage.”) As this essay opens,Milne was the chairman of the World Heritage Committee, as well as being the head of theUS delegation to the committee in 1993 and 1994.OverviewThere is a certain symmetry in the two terms of the United States on the World HeritageCommittee that are covered by this essay, 1993–1999 and 2005–2009. Between 1993and 1999, despite the continued absence of the US from UNESCO, the US continued itsstrong role in committee activities, reinforcing the committee’s role as a technical bodyresponsible for the conservation of sites. Initially as chair of the committee, and subsequentlyas a committee member, the US actively supported the UNESCO World Heritage Centre asan autonomous unit that could support the committee as a professional and independentThe George Wright Forum, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 18–44 (2013). 2013 The George Wright Society. All rights reserved.(No copyright is claimed for previously published material reprinted herein.)ISSN 0732-4715. Please direct all permissions requests to [email protected] The George Wright Forum vol. 30 no. 1

institution. Both US inscriptions on the List of World Heritage in Danger—of Everglades in1993 and of Yellowstone in 1995—had domestic and international purposes: to raise publicand congressional awareness on the critical needs of these two sites, and to demonstrate tothe world the positive results that could flow from inscription on the List in Danger. At thesame time, the US delegation played key diplomatic roles in resolving sensitive issues, such asthe nomination of Hiroshima (Japan) in 1996; or of the proposal in 1999 to include KakaduNational Park (Australia) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.The US left the committee at the end of 1999, and for several years played only aminimal role as an observer delegation. In 2003, the administration of George W. Bushreturned the United States to membership in UNESCO after an 18-year absence from theorganization. But the US return (and its election to the World Heritage Committee two yearslater) came without the strong NPS leadership that had characterized the earlier term whenthe US had been outside the organization. The frequent absence of strong leadership fromthe committee chair or articulate, conservation-minded committee members has often left itbuffeted by the political demands of individual states parties or by the policy imperatives ofUNESCO, increasingly ignoring the technical recommendations given by the committee’sadvisory bodies.The initial appearance of the Department of the Interior’s deputy assistant secretary atthe head of the observer delegation at the committee’s 2003 Extraordinary Session was tooppose the committee’s right to place sites on the Danger List without the agreement of thestate party, reversing the position the US had taken throughout previous administrations.Never theless, the department’s support for World Heritage saw the publication of a newedition of the US Tentative List in 2008 and the successful use of the convention to opposemining threats to the binational US–Canadian site, Waterton–Glacier International PeacePark, an intervention now widely recognized as one of the success stories of the convention.Everglades National Park and the List in DangerThe World Heritage Committee held its 17th session in Cartagena, Colombia, in earlyDecember 1993. For the US, the most significant event was the inscription of EvergladesNational Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger. “There were a lot of people,” formerOIA World Heritage specialist Richard Cook recalled, who felt that Everglades should havebeen listed as endangered at the time it was inscribed. [Its problems] go back to when thepark was established in ’47, and the first levies and canals were put in in ’48. It was almostgiven a death wish at the beginning!”2 The immediate event that triggered the listing was thedevastation caused by Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. Dick Ring, who had arrived assuperintendent at the park only a month before the hurricane struck, provided the committeewith an update on the condition of the Everglades.In the discussion leading to the Danger Listing, the United States pointedly refrainedfrom intervening, in order to demonstrate support and reinforce the newly revised OperationalGuidelines, which did not require participation in the decision by the country concerned.Following the Committee decision to inscribe the site on the Danger List, Robert Milne, thechief US delegate, noted that, as in other sites on the Danger List, the function of the list wasto aid in a site’s recovery, giving it added attention and the consequent political momentumThe George Wright Forum vol. 30 no. 1 19

for improvement that was so often necessary. Recognizing the long-term nature of both thethreats and the solutions, NPS authorities expected the site to remain on the List in Dangerfor a decade or more. (The site was removed from the List in Danger at the request of theBush administration in 2007 [see below], but was reinstated three years later.)The downsizing of OIAIn the meantime, a government-wide downsizing had a major impact on NPS programs andon OIA in particular. Bill Clinton had come into office on a pledge to reduce the size ofgovernment. In February 1993 he announced plans to reduce civilian federal employmentby 100,000 by the end of 1995, to be spread evenly across all departments. The new ParkService Director, Roger Kennedy, refused to allow the Office of Management and Budgetto determine NPS priorities and instead announced that the agency would direct its ownreorganization to meet the government’s reduction goals. Vacancies in the parks were filledby staff in Washington, draining much of the professional staff out of headquarters positions.“We ended up with something like four secretaries and three or four professionals,” formerOIA Chief Sharon Cleary recalled. “It was like a . 50% cut in staff in International Affairs.And it was called ‘Operation Opportunity.’”3“Op-Op,” as it was nicknamed, moved Rick Cook, OIA’s longest continuously servingPark Service staff with the World Heritage program, to Everglades National Park in 1994. Butthe decade had already seen other losses to the program. The International Short Course inthe Administration of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves, the pioneering NPS programto share Park Service expertise with park agencies around the world, had come to an end in1991; by the end of the decade, the links between the Peace Corps and OIA would also cease,and in 2001 the interagency agreement that had supported the Peace Corps program since1972 was allowed to expire.Cleary became the new chief of International Affairs in 1994, replacing the retiringRob Milne.4 Cleary had been an officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans andIn ternational Environmental and Scientific Affairs focused on US Agency for InternationalDevelopment (USAID) projects. Her success there had impressed Milne and former NPSDirector Bill Mott enough so that they recruited her to run USAID projects for OIA, at thattime often mired in bureaucracy. Once in OIA, Milne recalled, Cleary “proceeded to get forus unprecedented USAID funds and resolve many intellectual property rights issues thatwere holding up bi-national and multilateral agreements for us.”5Internally, with Director Kennedy’s support, Cleary began to reorient the office. Where as previous directors, like Mott, had enthusiastically endorsed the international role that thePark Service could play in bilateral programs with sister agencies, Kennedy thought the ParkService had no role in international conservation activities, which he thought were moreproperly the province of his former institution, the Smithsonian.The last US nominationsThe last nominations to be presented to the committee before the United States decided totake a “pause” were three widely differing proposals brought to the committee’s 1995 session20 The George Wright Forum vol. 30 no. 1

in Berlin. Of the three, only Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico was inscribedwithout debate.Historic District of Savannah. The proposal to list the Historic District of Savannah,Georgia, was less successful. Although Savannah’s Historic District had been included onthe US Tentative List when it was first published in 1982, OIA was unable to identify howit could be proposed without obtaining the agreement of all property owners in the district,a US requirement for any nominations to the World Heritage List. As a result, a nominationwas prepared for the historic plan itself—the network of streets and squares that had beenlaid out by James Oglethorpe—but without including any of the privately owned buildings.The city was insistent that it be proposed, and OIA forwarded the nomination to the WorldHeritage Centre in October 1994.Predictably, both the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS,responsible for evaluating cultural properties for the committee) and the committee thoughtthat the exclusion of the entire historic urban fabric was “not in the spirit of the WorldHeritage Convention,” and deferred the nomination until the entire townscape could benominated, a condition that the US delegation acknowledged could not be met.6Waterton–Glacier International Peace Park (with Canada). The nomination of Gla cier National Park (Figure 1), ultimately inscribed in 1995 with its adjacent CanadianFigure 1. Glacier National Park (Going to the Sun Road), August 2007. National Park Servicephoto by Jonathan Putnam, NPS Office of International Affairs.The George Wright Forum vol. 30 no. 1 21

counterpart, Waterton Lakes National Park, had the longest road to inscription of any of theUS nominations. When the site was first submitted in 1984, IUCN (then the InternationalUnion for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, responsible for evaluatingnatural properties for the Committee), concluded that its significance was less for its glaciersand plant biomes than as an international peace park. (With Waterton Lakes in Alberta, theparks had been designated the world’s first international peace park in 1932.) With theagreement of Canada, a joint nomination was prepared for submission in December 1985.However, at the last minute, the provincial government of British Columbia (which borderson the park to the west) halted the process, considering that the nomination would jeopardizepossible mining activities and “ongoing studies of the proposed Cabin Creek coal mine bythe International Joint Commission [for the US–Canada Boundary Waters Treaty].”7The Cabin Creek Coal mine on a tributary to the upper reaches of the Flathead Riverin British Columbia had been a source of concern between Montana and British Columbiasince it was proposed in 1975. The river flows into the US along the western border of Gla cier National Park, and environmental groups had quickly mobilized in opposition. In 1976,the US portion of the Flathead River was designated a Wild and Scenic River. Ten years later,just as the joint Glacier–Waterton Lakes nomination was being prepared, the US and Canadabrought the dispute to the International Joint Commission (IJC), which in 1988 determinedthat pollution from the coal mine six miles north of Glacier National Park would violate the1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the United States and Canada. (Almost a quartercentury after the Cabin Creek decision, mining in the Flathead basin would be the sourceof another dispute, resolved in large part because of the Waterton–Glacier World Heritagedesignation. See below.)In 1993, Dave Mihalic, newly appointed superintendent at Glacier National Park, deci ded to revive the nomination. With OIA, Mihalic set about assembling a new nomination,submitted in 1993 as the “Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks.” IUCN, however, wasstill not enthusiastic. The IUCN evaluator thought that the site was not a strong candidate,considering the presence nearby of the Canadian Rocky Mountains Parks World HeritageSite. However, in extensive debate, often heated argument, and a culminating IUCN sitevisit in October 1995, OIA and the park made the case that the “tri-ocean hydrographicaldivide” (separating the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans) and the physiographic interfaceof mountain and prairie ecosystems combine to make the area an “outstanding example ofongoing ecological and biological processes.” IUCN’s eventual positive recommendationcleared the way for its inscription at the December 1995 meeting,Yellowstone National Park and the List of World Heritage in DangerAt the same 1995 committee session, Yellowstone National Park, the