1.         Complex of Hué Monuments (Viet Nam) (C 678)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1993

Criteria  (iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/678/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1994-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 273,706
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/678/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

A monitoring mission by an international expert, 8-18 November 2003. A joint World Heritage Centre-ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission in October 2006. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Development of the road infrastructure and modern constructions in and around the Citadel;

b) Urban infrastructure of Hué and its surroundings. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/678/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission visited the property in October 2006. With respect to the four issues raised by the Committee in its Decision 30 COM 7B.71, the mission observed the following.

The removal of the illegal buildings proceeds in phases, involving a large number of people that are being relocated to safer areas and better living conditions. The operations, depending on availability of funds, should continue over the next years. The efforts of the authorities in this respect are commendable.

Three different inventories were prepared in Hué, including of the main listed monuments, 640 traditional houses, temples, garden houses and French colonial architecture. These inventories will be integrated into a single GIS database, which will be used also for promoting cultural tourism.

The Decision 30 COM 7B.71 had requested a Management Plan by end 2006. However, during the mission it became apparent that by Management Plan the authorities intended mainly the redefinition of zone boundaries and adjustments to regulations covering land-use and building activities within and around the World Heritage property. This important work was still under way at the time of the mission, and was not presented to its members.

The revision of the boundaries and a strengthening of the protective measures are indeed necessary. The boundaries of the World Heritage property of Hué Monument Complex (i.e. zone I), as originally submitted, do not reflect the significance of the site as a cultural landscape since they only include the built structures and their immediate setting, leaving outside the essential natural components of the geomantic landscape inspired by the feng shui philosophy. Buffer zones (zones II), moreover, appear too small to ensure the protection of the heritage sites from unwanted development.

The mission, indeed, noted a number of implemented or on-going projects with negative impact on the integrity of the World Heritage property, including a new by-pass road and bridge near the Minh Mang Tomb, a road cutting created in one of the hills of geomantic significance facing Khai Dinh’s tomb, road enlargements, tourist resorts, golf course, a cement factory, quarrying, and suburban sprawl in general, and particularly along the banks of the Perfume River. All these developments, following a piece-meal approach, appear to contradict the spirit of the existing Master Plan for Hué, which identifies the area to the south west of the Citadel (i.e. the heritage area) as a special zone of landscape significance to be preserved in its semi-rural state. Less problematic is the Citadel itself where, with few exceptions, building controls are in place.

With respect to the proposed five-storey hotel at Vong Canh Hill (a prominent location overlooking the Perfume River and within sight of several important monuments), the mission noted that the construction of this hotel on the top of the Hill would be a major intrusion on the geomantic landscape of nearby monuments such as the Tu Duc or the Dong Khan Tombs. It appears that four different locations had been considered for this development, with one (on the slopes of the Hill near an old French pumping station) being currently favoured. While this option would certainly be preferable to the initial proposal on top of the Hill, it is feared that the construction of a hotel and necessary access roads would inevitably lead to the development of an urban cluster here, as it has occurred around the Tuan Bridge and bypass road near the Minh Mang Tomb. The mission was informed that an Environmental Impact Assessment for this project was being prepared.

In conclusion, it appeared to the mission that the property’s statement of Outstanding Universal Value, as well as its boundaries and buffer zones, needs to be revised to reflect the broader definition of the site as a cultural landscape and provide a stronger level of protection. This could be achieved through a re-nomination of the property. This process should be carried out through a participative approach so as to reconcile the immediate development needs of the growing population with the need for protecting an essential asset for the socio-economic well being of the community in the long-term.

One additional issue observed by the mission is the risk from floods. Only two weeks before the mission took place, a flood had reached the level of +4.35 metres above the average height of the River, causing around USD 2 million in damage to the Citadel. While the construction of upstream dams is underway, the mission noted the importance of rehabilitating the traditional water network within and around the Citadel, currently ineffective because not maintained, as a means to reduce the impact of floods in the heritage area. Currently, UNESCO and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) are developing an agreement to conduct a study on this traditional water networks, in co-operation with the Hué Monument Conservation Centre (HMCC) in view of its future possible re-establishment.

The report of the mission included the following main recommendations:

a) The programme for the removal of illegal structures and the relocation of the concerned persons to alternative suitable places should continue according to the plan, in close consultation with the people being moved and with financial support from Central and Provincial Governments.

b) The Hué Monuments Conservation Centre should take into account the inventories carried out so far in the process for the redefinition of the boundaries of the World Heritage property, so as to ensure that these included all the significant elements that characterize its heritage value. An updated and comprehensive inventory should also constitute an essential component of the future management plan for the World Heritage property.

c) The Management Plan currently under development must both respond to the Outstanding Universal Value identified at the time of inscription and anticipate in the near future a possible cultural landscape re-nomination by putting in place in the interim period all necessary protection for the ‘landscape areas’ essential to the full articulation of this re-nomination.

d) The process of preparing a cultural landscape re-nomination is complex and demanding. This re-nomination will require redefining the core areas to be included within the nomination, the definition of appropriately protected buffer zones, a revised statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and modification to the Management Plan currently under preparation in order to specify general principles for the entire World Heritage property and sub-plans for each of the extended core areas (Zone I). This should be developed and submitted in a re-nomination document to UNESCO according to the provisions of paragraphs 165 and 166 of the Operational Guidelines (Request for Major Modification) by the end of 2009.

e) Until the State Party should develop a full re-nomination of the site as a cultural landscape, the State Party should extend the boundaries of the buffer zone (Zone II) to include all the territory that would be included in such a re-nomination and strengthen the protection of the territory so included to maintain it free from development that would negatively impact on the values recognized by inscription, and those linked to its future re-nomination as a cultural landscape.

f) In the interim, until a full re-nomination of the site as a cultural landscape, the boundaries of the existing buffer zones (Zone II) should be extended in order to protect all the geomantic elements of each of the inscribed monuments. This should be done in accordance with the principles outlined above and the new boundaries should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for comments by the end of 2007. It is important to stress that extension of zone II would not imply the freezing of all developments, but only the establishment of appropriate land-use regulations, compatible with the safeguarding of the heritage character of the concerned areas.

g) All efforts should be made to ensure changes contained within the re-nomination are given statutory basis in the new Master Plan for 2010–2020.

h) There should be a temporary suspension of major infrastructural and building activities in the newly defined core and buffer zones (Zones I and II) until the necessary regulatory framework was approved.

i) The State Party should be encouraged to seek international assistance in preparation of the re-nomination. In this regard, the Hué Monuments Conservation Centre should make a request through the International Assistance Programme under the World Heritage Fund for a training workshop on the development of Conservation Management Plans for staff of the Centre and other agencies engaged in the above activities.

j) An Environmental Impact Assessment, including consideration of cultural heritage aspects, of the proposed tourist resort project on the Vong Canh hill along the Huong River should be carried out as soon as possible and, in any case, before irreversible decisions were taken that might affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property, and reported to the World Heritage Centre.

The State Party submitted a report by letter dated 30 January 2007, providing updated information on the property as well as its observations on the findings and recommendations of the report of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission. The report indicated that the removal of illegal houses and the inventorying of significant heritage elements were continuing, and that some progress has been made in the revision of boundaries and strengthening of protection. A draft comprehensive Master Plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2007, based on examples provided by the mission members and with continued consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS requested by the State Party. A draft plan for Vong Canh Hill as a cultural landscape park to improve the significance of the heritage property will be sent to the World Heritage Centre before the final decision is taken.

With regard to the recommendations made by the mission of October 2006, the People’s Committee of the Thua Thien Hué Province, by separate letter of 30 January 2007 to the World Heritage Centre, points out the inseparable connection between people and heritage areas, notes that this complicates the management and conservation of the Hué World Heritage property, and, although appreciating the work of the mission and agreeing with most of its recommendations, makes some observations on key points. Because the removal of illegal buldings requires a careful approach and substantial funds in order to provide an adequate relocation package, it will continue to be done in stages over several years. Development of the Management Plan will also require time, as well as approvals by the Central Government, assistance from the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, and consideration of local people.

The State Party will do its best to implement the recommendations on the revision of core and buffer zones to include feng shui elements associated with the property, but this will take time because of difficulties related to the presence of people and structures. The State Party notes that some regulations are already in place, irrespective of zone revision. Hué has been declared a “Festival City of Vietnam” and upgrading of its infrastructure are necessary. The State Party, therefore, considers that it would not be possible to temporarily suspend major infrastructural and building activities in the newly defined core and wider buffer zones (Zones I and II), as recommended by the mission. However, the State Party agrees that it will be necessary to “consider and work out carefully the scale and design of infrastructure and buildings in existing zone II”, and to consult the competent heritage organizations.

On Vong Cahn Hill, the document provided by the Provincial People’s Committee of Hué indicates that the tourist resort was simply a proposal. The area will in fact be transformed into a “cultural park”. It notes that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment is required by Vietnamese Construction Law for any major project.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.75

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.71, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.  Notes the progress made by the State Party in relation to the removal of illegal housing and the preparation of inventories of significant cultural heritage elements in the Hué area, and requests it to continue efforts to relocate people to safer areas;

4.  Requests the State Party to give urgent consideration to the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission of October 2006 and their phased implementation, including the possible suspension of major infrastructure and building activities in the newly defined core and buffer zones (Zones I and II) until the necessary regulatory framework is approved;

5.  Urges the State Party to prepare, in consultation with and with assistance from the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, a management plan that includes wider core and buffer zones covering the significant geomantic elements associated with the inscribed monuments, that provides a stronger level of protection for the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and that foresees the eventual re-nomination of the property as a cultural landscape based on a revised statement of its Outstanding Universal Value. A draft management plan should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the end of 2009, for consideration by the Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

6.  Also requests the State Party to prepare, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, an action plan of necessary works to minimize the negative impact of noise pollution on the Minh Mang and Khai Dinh tombs;

7.  Encourages the State Party to make a request through the International Assistance Programme under the World Heritage Fund for a training workshop on the development of conservation and management plans for staff of the Hué Monuments Conservation Centre;

8.  Further requests the State Party to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2009 for consideration by the Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.