The 13th Bamiyan Expert Working Group Meeting met at the Technical University of Munich, Germany (1-3 December 2016), and released important recommendations for future safeguarding actions at the Bamiyan World Heritage site, Afghanistan.
The Governor of the Bamiyan province, the Deputy Minister of Culture of Afghanistan, accompanied by high-ranking officials from the Government of Afghanistan, attended the meeting, along with representatives of donor countries, such as Germany, Italy, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and 20 international experts from Italy, Germany, and Japan.
The Bamiyan Expert Working Group was formed in 2002, as the Afghan Government entrusted UNESCO with the mandate of co-ordinating all cultural projects in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The Expert Working Group for Bamiyan therefore co-ordinates the activities carried out in Bamiyan under the various UNESCO projects as well as bilateral activities funded by international donors. It also advises the Government of Afghanistan in implementing the decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee for the World Heritage property of Bamiyan in the areas of conservation and management.
The 13th Bamiyan Expert Working Group Meeting was of particular importance as there was an interval period of three years since the last one that took place in December 2013 in Orvieto, Italy. The Meeting, first, assessed progress made on the state of conservation of the property, and set forward prioritized activities for the immediate future in the form of recommendations. These include urgent conservation needs for the Western Buddha niches, where the conservation work was resumed in the second semester of 2016, as well as the need for the revision of the Cultural Master Plan in view of ever increasing development pressures.
The Meeting also served as a platform for preliminary discussions between the Government of Afghanistan, international experts and donor countries on the feasibility of reconstructing at least one of the Buddha statues, which has now been officially requested by the Government of Afghanistan on behalf of the people of Afghanistan. It is foreseen that an International Symposium on “The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues: Technical Considerations and Potential Effects on Authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value” will take place in Tokyo (Japan) in September 2017 to discuss in more detail the issues related to reconstruction and restoration based on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and to formulate a set of final recommendations to the Government of Afghanistan.
The meeting offered an opportunity to officialise the donation of the scaffolds used for conservation activities at the Eastern Buddha niche. These scaffolds were provided to the team of German ICOMOS by the Messerschmitt Foundation and were carried from Germany to Afghanistan thanks to the help of the German army in 2002. Dr. H. von Srbik, President of the Messerschmitt Foundation visited, on 2 December last, the Bamiyan Working Group Meeting and officially announced the handover of the scaffolds to the Government of Afghanistan for use of the heritage conservation actions in Afghanistan. These scaffolds are currently in use at the Western Buddha niche.
The Meeting was made possible thanks to the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for the project of “Safeguarding of the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, Phase V” and was organized at the invitation of the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
© UNESCO / H. Yasui