1.         Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) (C 208rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2003

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger   2003-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 6,345,807 (2003-2014) from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust; USD 600,000 (2013) from the Italian Funds-in-Trust.

Previous monitoring missions

No reactive monitoring mission was carried out; November 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICCROM advisory mission; April 2011: UNESCO Kabul/ICOMOS advisory mission; UNESCO expert missions in the context of the implementation of specific projects.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a)  Risk of imminent collapse of the Giant Buddha niches;

b)  Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings;

c)  Looting, illicit traffic and illegal excavations of cultural heritage assets;

d)  Continued use of certain heritage areas for military posts;

e)  Anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordinances (i.e. munitions);

f)  Development pressure.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

A state of conservation report was submitted by the State Party on 11 February 2013. The report responds to the decision made by World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012). It includes information on the corrective measures taken by the State Party (Management Plan, Cultural Master Plan, site guards, education and public awareness, stabilization of the Buddha niches and conservation of the fragments); on the difficulties in their implementation and other conservation issues. In addition to this State Party report, the state of conservation of the site was also discussed by international experts and Afghan authorities at the Eleventh Bamiyan Expert Working Group Meeting (here after 11th BEWGM) held in Aachen, Germany from 10 to 12 December 2012. At the meeting, the State Party also reiterated its commitment to achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger and the preservation of all the related monuments of the Bamiyan Cultural Landscape.

With regard to the implementation of the corrective measures, the following progress has been noted:

a)  Ensuring site security

The State Party report highlights its commitment to ensuring site security. The report notes that in addition to the site guards, the Ministry of the Interior has deployed a team of police officers from a specialized unit for the protection of cultural properties to monitor and safeguard the property.

b)  Ensuring the long-term stability of the Giant Buddha niches

The long-term stability of the Giant Buddha niches has remained a central priority. In 2012, the ICOMOS Germany team organized three international expert missions to Bamiyan to implement the conservation and consolidation measures in caves II-VI of the large Western Buddha niche. The entire rear wall of the Eastern Buddha niche was documented into a 3D Scan and some 3D scan documentation was undertaken for the Western Buddha. The experts also worked to set up the model restoration of original fragments in caves II-VI of the Western Buddha in close collaboration with local Afghan craftsmen and under the supervision of the restorer(s). From 18 to 24 June 2012, an Italian Team carried out an international expert mission to Bamiyan to develop detailed field planning and implement preparatory measures for checking and evaluating the threat of rock fall and the formation of dangerous cracks in the upper access of the Western Buddha niche. The mission also evaluated the main cliffs’ monitoring system, including the Hazard mapping of the main cliffs. The State Party report highlights the completion of the stabilization of the Eastern Buddha niche in 2011 as a major achievement of the Ministry of Information and Culture, UNESCO and ICOMOS Germany. The State Party indicates that the large Western Buddha niche is in critical condition and in need of urgent consolidation to avoid further deterioration. It requests continued support from UNESCO and the international community on this work. During the 11th BEWGM, the State Party also expressed its wish for partial reassembly of the Eastern Buddha.

c)  Achieving the Desired state of conservation of archaeological remains and mural paintings;

While conservation activity on the archaeological remains and mural paintings was not possible for the Japanese Team in 2012 due to security reasons, considerable preparation work was done for future activities. Within the above-mentioned mission of the Italian team, the Guidance and planning for the prevention of erosion at Shahr-i-Zuhak was developed and drafted. This was presented at the 11th BEWGM. Within 2012, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (NRICP) Tokyo successfully edited its previous missions findings and related maps and published the Scientific Documentation of Bamiyan Sites, notably: Vol 1: Cultural Landscape of the Central Part of the Bamiyan Valley in the 1970s and Vol 2: Topographic Survey of the Central Part of the Bamiyan Valley. The State Party report also noted the efforts made towards capacity-building for Afghan experts in 2012 in situ in Afghanistan and training abroad in Japan and in Kyrgyzstan. It reports that besides the Bamiyan cliff Buddha niches, other components of the property, such as Shar-i Gholghola, Shahr-i-Zuhak and Kakrak, are in danger of collapse or serious and rapid deterioration and need continued assistance from UNESCO and the international community.

d)  Implementation of the Management Plan and Cultural Master Plan (the protective zoning plan)

The State Party report notes continuing progress on the preparation of the Management Plan for the property through discussions between local stakeholders, government agencies and international experts. The report particularly notes the June 2012 International Coordination Meeting in Bamiyan as a key opportunity for Afghan officials from concerned ministries and institutions (Bamiyan Governor Office, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Aviation and Transport, Ministry of Public Works) to share their plans to protect the World Heritage property. The 2012 Second Annual Progress Report of the Bamiyan Valley World Heritage Property Management Plan Preparation, produced by the Aachen Conservation and Documentation Centre (ACDC), Germany, in conjunction with the Afghan authorities, has been produced. In addition, the Aachen University team drafted the detailed damage assessment on selected structures, showing typical damage types at Shahr-i-Zuhak and carried out documentation and interpretation work for other sites within the property. It is hoped that this Bamiyan scientific documentation system will be used as an example for Afghanistan’s National Heritage Documentation data. Regarding the Cultural Master Plan, the State Party report confirms that the plan has been adopted at the local and national levels through the Bamiyan provincial Government, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC). The report states that the Cultural Master Plan currently functions as a guide to urban development in the Bamiyan Valley and to mitigate any potential negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. However, the report suggests that the plan be simplified to ensure its implementation by the local authorities on the ground.

e)  Other issues and development pressure

A draft design for a potential Bamiyan Museum for Peace, along with the architectural model was presented at the 11th BEWGM. The State Party confirmed its interest in this Museum project and has requested continued cooperation from UNESCO and the international partners to achieve its completion.

At the 11th BEWGM, another presentation was made by the Afghanistan Operations Centre (AGOC) of UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) on the Foladi road construction. The State Party report mentions that MoIC has been advising UNOPS on the need to provide inputs for a Heritage Impact Assessment to help in the planning of the road construction, especially in the areas where the road comes near to or inside the boundaries of the property. The State Party report also mentions that the property faces increasing urban pressure from the re-settlement of people within the Bamiyan Valley. Some land within the boundaries is in private ownership and the cultural landscape is under increasing pressure from development and urban growth. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the progress that has been made by the State Party on the implementation of corrective measures as well as in the area of capacity building. They further note the strong commitment of UNESCO and the international community to the preservation of the property, through expert missions, technical assistance, local capacity building and publications. They encourage the continuation of the effort, not only for the Bamiyan cliff Buddha niches, but also for other component parts of the property, such as Shar-i Gholghola, Shahr-i-Zuhak and Kakrak.

In this context, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are of the view that in order to finalize the Management Plan, the Cultural Master Plan and the 2012 Second Annual Progress Report for the Preparation of a Management Plan as well as the Scientific Documentation of Bamiyan should be shared amongst all stakeholders, and should function as references for the overall development strategy of the valley. They also reiterate the importance of enforcing building codes and controls on development within the property and its buffer zones and other areas protected under the 2004 Afghan Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note with concern the urgency of the critical condition of the large Western Buddha niche which is in need of urgent consolidation to avoid further deterioration as well as theinterest expressed in the partial reassembly of the Eastern Buddha niche. They suggest that any measures for the treatment of the Buddha niches take into account an overall approach to conservation and presentation of the property, an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and in particular, the technical and financial possibilities for the implementation of the project proposals.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also note with concern the development pressures on the property, in particular the proposed Foladi Valley Road, and recommend that any decision on the proposed development projects be based on a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage Cultural Properties, and be considered in the framework of the on-going development of the Management Plan. They consider that the timeline for the implementation of the corrective measures has to be revised so as to achieve the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7A.30

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,

2.   Recalling Decision 36 COM 7A.26, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.   Commends the progress made by the State Party on the implementation of the corrective measures and on capacity building;

4.   Takes note of the concerns expressed by the State Party on the critical condition of the large Western Buddha niche;

5.   Urges the State Party to:

a)   finalise the Management Plan with an overall strategy of managing the property as a Cultural Landscape,

b)   ensure that the Cultural Master Plan is shared with other stakeholders intervening in the valley, and

c)   enforce building codes and regulations on development in the buffer zones of the property and other areas protected under the 2004 Afghan Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties;

6.   Encourages the State Party to elaborate and implement a capacity building strategy with a view to reinforcing national capacity in the field of conservation and management of important historical and archaeological sites within the property, with the support of international donors;

7.   Reiterates its request to the State Party, when considering options for the treatment of the Buddha niches, to ensure that proposals are based on feasibility studies which include:

a)   an overall approach to conservation and presentation of the property,

b)   an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property,

c)   technical and financial possibilities for the implementation of the project proposals;

8.   Also reiterates its request to the State Party to submit detailed information on any planned development within or nearby the property, in particular the proposed Foladi Valley Road, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines ;

9.   Requests the State Party to continue its work on the implementation of the adopted corrective measures and to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014;

10.  Calls upon the international community to continue providing technical and financial support for the protection and management of the entire property, including component parts such as Shahr-i Gholghola, Shahr-i-Zuhak and Kakrak, in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation;

11.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014;

12.  Decides to retain the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-13/37.COM/7A, WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add and WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add.
  2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: