VII.51 The Town of Luang Prabang (Laos)
The Committee was informed of the Secretariat's report to the Bureau that a surge of overseas public and private investments, and of tourism is being witnessed in this World Heritage town. Building renovations and new constructions are taking place throughout the town, including the rehabilitation of many temples without sufficient consideration for authenticity. Numerous violations of building regulations are occurring.
To strengthen the national capacity, a Heritage House (Maison du patrimoine) was established within the provincial administration under the Luang Prabang-Chinon (France)-UNESCO World Heritage Centre cooperation project to prepare recommendations on building design and conservation methods for all building permit requests in the World Heritage protected area and the buffer/support zones, as well as to prepare the Safeguarding and Development Plan of the town.
The Committee was informed that the strengthening of the legal protection of movable and immovable cultural properties, including archaeological sites and historic human settlements, is urgently required. The enactment by the National Assembly of a cultural properties protection law prepared with the assistance of the cooperation project, in order to strengthen the existing ministerial decrees is under consideration.
The Committee was informed that the Representative of ICOMOS reminded the Bureau that it had recommended deferral of the inscription of Luang Prabang until there was firm proof of the effectiveness of the management plan, stating that this case shows the necessity of deferring inscription decision. The Committee was also informed, however, that a number of Bureau members commented on the usefulness of World Heritage inscription to strengthen protection and expressed satisfaction for the achievements made within such a short time.
The Mayor of Chinon, at the invitation of the Chairperson, clarified to the Committee that the cooperation project was for national capacity building and that the Heritage House was a technical service within the provincial administration. He stated that the City of Chinon foresees long-term cooperation with Luang Prabang for the transfer and sharing of knowledge. The Committee thanked the Mayor for his commitment.
The Committee took note of the Secretariat's report and congratulated the Government· of Laos for the establishment of the Heritage House within the Department of Culture of the provincial administration, the Provincial Committee for the Protection and Development of Luang Prabang and the National Inter-ministerial Committee for the Protection of Cultural Properties, all within one year of inscription.
The Committee furthermore:
(a) recalled the commitment made by the Government of Laos, by letter of November 1995 from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Director-General of UNESCO, for the early enactment of the Cultural Properties Protection Law by the National Assembly;
(b) requested the Government of Laos to organize an information meeting to present the Safeguarding and Development Plan of Luang Prabang for donors, financial institutions and investors, to ensure that the numerous construction and infrastructural development projects do not undermine the World Heritage value of the town.