World Heritage Commitee
1998 Decision on Kakadu National Park

(Northern Territory, Australia)

(last updated 27 Apr 1999)


World Heritage Committee
Twenty-second session
Kyoto, Japan
30 November 5 December 1998
Decision on Kakadu National Park

The Committee recognised the report of the mission to Kakadu National Park as being both thorough and credible. The Committee:

(i) Expressed grave concern at the ascertained and potential dangers to the World Heritage cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park which, as noted in the Mission report, are posed primarily by the proposal for uranium mining and milling at Jabiluka;

(ii) Noted with concern that in spite of the dangers to the World Heritage values, construction of the mine at Jabiluka began in June 1998 and is currently progressing;

(iii) Has been informed by the Australian authorities that construction of the mine decline and site will proceed; however, in the next six months no mining of uranium will take place, the construction of the mill will not commence and an export permit for the Jabiluka uranium will not be issued. The Committee has also been informed that the Australian authorities will act to complete the cultural heritage management plan with independent public review and they will accelerate the implementation of the Kakadu Region Social Impact Study;

(iv) Noted that there is significant difference of opinion concerning the degree of certainty of the science used to assess the impact of the mine of the World Heritage values of Kakadu (notably hydrological modelling, prediction and impact of severe weather events, storage of uranium ore on the surface and the long-term storage of the mine tailings);

(v) Noted that the associative cultural values, and the archaeological and rock art sites, on the basis of which Kakadu National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and the ability of affected Aboriginal communities to continue their traditional relationships to the land, are threatened by the Jabiluka mine proposal; and

(vi) Emphasized the fundamental importance of ensuring thorough and continuing participation, negotiation and communication with Aboriginal traditional owners, custodians and managers in the conservation of the outstanding heritage values of Kakadu for future generations.

In view of the ascertained and potential dangers posed by the Jabiluka uranium mine that are noted in the report of the World Heritage mission to Kakadu, and have again been noted with concern by the Committee, IUCN, ICCROM and ICOMOS, the Committee decided the following:

  1. In light of the concerns expressed by the Delegate of Australia, the Australian authorities be requested to provide, by 15 April 1999, a detailed report on their efforts to prevent further damage and to mitigate all the threats identified in the World Heritage mission, report to the World Heritage cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park, Australia. The report should address these threats posed by the construction of the Jabiluka mine, by the mining of uranium ore at Jabiluka, and the alternatives for milling the ore at Jabiluka and Ranger. The report should be prepared in accordance with the intent of (v) above. The report submitted by the Australian authorities should include a detailed update on the implementation of the cultural heritage management plan referred to in (iii) above and in the mission report.

  2. Immediately up its receipt by the Secretariat, the report referred to in paragraph 1 above, be provided to ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN, who will ensure that the twenty-third session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, be provided with written independent expert review concerning the mitigation of threats posing ascertained and potential dangers to Kakadu National Park by the Jabiluka mine. The expert opinion of ICOMOS, ICCROM and IUCN will be provided to the Secretariat by 15 May 1999 for immediate distribution to members of the Bureau and the Australian authorities.

  3. The Australian authorities be requested to direct the Australian Supervising Scientist Group to conduct a full review of the scientific issues referred to in Paragraph (iv) above, to be provided to the Secretariat by 15 April 1999. The review will be submitted to peer review by an independent scientific panel composed of scientists selected by UNESCO in consultation with the International Council of Scientific Unions and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee. The report of the peer review will be provided to the Secretariat by 15 May 1999 for immediate distribution to the members of the Bureau, IUCN and the Australian authorities.

  4. The reports referred to in Recommendations 1, 2 and 3 will be examined by the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

  5. The twenty-second session of the Committee has decided that an extraordinary session of the Committee, to immediately follow the twenty-third session of the Bureau in July 1999, will be convened at UNESCO Headquarters to decide whether to immediately inscribe Kakadu National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.


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