Ashgabat Agreement: representatives and experts of twelve Asian countries outline the Silk Roads Heritage Corridors approach for the future Serial and Trans-boundary World Heritage Nomination
Some fifty potential Silk Roads Heritage Corridors have been identified, with twenty corridors being considered as a medium priority, while three corridors within the five Central Asian countries and China are recommended as a top priority for the first phase of the serial and trans-boundary World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads at the 2nd meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Serial World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads, which has been successfully convened in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from 3 to 6 May 2011. This meeting has been jointly organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UNESCO Office in Tehran, the Ministry of Foreign Affaires of Turkmenistan, the National Commission of Turkmenistan for UNESCO, and the Ministry of Culture, TV and Radio Broadcasting of Turkmenistan.
During the meeting, the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project "Support for documentation standards and procedures of the Silk Roads Serial and translational World Heritage Nomination in Central Asia" and the "Silk Roads Cultural Heritage Resources Information System (CHRIS)" project supported by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), have been launched and participants adopted the Ashgabat Agreement for the further collaboration among Asian State Parties to establish a Silk Roads nomination framework and to carry out a first phase serial and transnational Silk Roads World Heritage nomination dossier(s).This meeting brought together more than fifty representatives from twelve countries: Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, from UNESCO, as well as experts from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS), University College London, United Kingdom and the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, the University of Leuven, Belgium. The meeting reviewed the progress of the nomination process in considering the new guidance on trans-boundary serial nominations; and also reviewed and discussed the Thematic Study on the Silk Roads conducted by ICOMOS with a bibliography provided by the twelve present Asian countries, and further consolidated the nomination strategy. The participants of the meeting reached a mutual understanding on the accomplishments, which are needed to achieve the Silk Roads heritage corridors approach proposed by the ICOMOS Thematic Study, and to prioritize the heritage corridors between the Central Asian countries and China for the first phase of the World Heritage nomination.
During the meeting, the existing Silk Roads Expert Group of delegates from Central Asia and China has been reactivated and will meet in September 2011 in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in order to follow up on the above mentioned Ashgabat Agreement and to strengthen the cooperation with the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre at Xi'an (IICC-Xi'an), in their capacity as Secretariat of the Coordinating Committee. The launched UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project, through a sub-regional training workshop will be held alongside the above-mentioned Expert Group meeting, which is also to be held in September in Uzbekistan, and will further support the process by enhancing the exchange of information related to the required documentation needed for the preparation of nomination dossiers. The participants of the meeting expressed in the adopted Ashgabat Agreement that the transnational nomination dossiers of the first phase should be submitted by February 2013, and it was therefore agreed that the next meeting of the Coordinating Committee should take place before September 2012.
During the meeting, the host country also organized field trips to Kunya-Urgench and the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, both World Heritage properties in Turkmenistan. Moreover, all participants were extremely appreciative to the financial contributions for the meeting from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project and the UNESCO/Norway Funds-in-Trust project, as well as the excellent organization provided by the Government of Turkmenistan.