State of Conservation (SOC)
Town of Luang Prabang (1996)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:62,242USD
|1996||Conservation of Traditional Houses in Luang Prabang||39,900 USD|
|1996||Preparation of a Manual on guidelines for the conservation and ...||7,342 USD|
|1994||Preparation of a nomination file for Luang Prabang||15,000 USD|
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
Current conservation issues
The Town of Luang Prabang was inscribed on the World Heritage List in December 1994. After years of political and economic isolation of Laos, the policy of economic liberalization adopted by the Government is now resulting in a surge of overseas public and private investments, especially in physical infrastructural development and tourism. The recently completed expansion of the airport of Luang Prabang, has led to the establishment of direct flights from a number of major cities of Southeast Asia, making Luang Prabang into one of the most sought after new tourism destination of the region.
Building renovations and new constructions are now taking place throughout the town, including the rehabilitation of many temples financed by religious contributions. Due to the weakness in building regulations and lack of qualified personnel in the issuance and subsequent control on building permits, numerous violations are occurring.
To strengthen the national capacity to face this situation, a Heritage House (Maison du patrimoine) was established and temporarily located within the Office of the Department of Culture of the Provincial Government staffed by one expatriate expert and three national architects 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 for consideration by the Department of Construction. Being one of the activities under the Luang Prabang-Chinon-UNESCO World Heritage Centre project financed by the Government of France, the European Union, the City of Chinon and the Electricité de France (EDF), among other donors, the Heritage House's advisory work is being complemented by the preparation of a Safeguarding and Development Plan of the town. The first phase in preparing this plan has been the reassessment of the existing legal and regulatory framework governing landuse and building permits which is now on-going. Additional financial and technical support is however required to prepare a detailed survey of the buildings and streetscape of the core area of the protected zone as well as guidelines on conservation practice to support the enforcement of the building regulations.
While an inter-departmental provincial committee for the protection and development of Luang Prabang was established in September 1996 under the chairmanship of the Vice-Governor with representation from the Departments of Construction, Culture, Tourism, Education and Mass Organizations, without adequate regulations and administrative capacity for enforcement, the incidents of building violations cannot be curtailed in the face of massive investment pressures.
The enactment by the National Assembly of a Cultural Properties Protection Law to provide the legal basis for the series of ministerial decrees and administrative ordinances related to the protection of movable and immovable cultural properties, including archaeological sites and historic cultural settlements, is urgently required.
The Bureau may wish to transmit the report to the Committee and recommend the Committee to adopt the following:
"The Committee commends the Provincial Government of Luang Prabang for the establishment of the Heritage House and the Provincial Committee for the Protection and Development of Luang Prabang and thanks the Government of France, the European Union, the City of Chinon, Electricity of France and other donors for their generous financial and technical support.
The Committee furthermore
(a) urges the Government of Laos to give top priority to the enactment by the National Assembly of the Cultural Properties Protection Law;
(b) urges the Government to establish an inter-ministerial committee on the protection of national cultural properties;
(c) requests the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to assist the Government of Laos to organize an information meeting in Luang Prabang to present the Safeguarding and Development Plan of Luang Prabang and the landuse and building regulations for bilateral and multilateral donors and financial institutions to ensure that the numerous infrastructural development projects do not undermine the World Heritage value of the town;
(d) requests the international donor community to provide financial and technical support for the safeguarding of Luang Prabang in coordination with UNESCO."
Link to the decision
Link to the decision
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.
Link to the decision
XII. The Bureau at its twentieth extraordinary session noted that several requests for international assistance were related to state of conservation reports on the same properties and suggested the Committee to consider if these should be examined together. The Committee approved the recommendation of the Bureau. Furthermore, the Delegate of Germany proposed that all training requests submitted for World Heritage funding on a yearly basis be studied together so as to provide information on the level of funds obligated on a regular basis. The Delegate of Canada insisted that these training programmes be evaluated, as it has been done within the training strategy for natural heritage. The Committee requested the Secretariat "to call upon the advice of the experts of the appropriate bodies (ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM)", according to paragraph 102 of the Operational Guidelines. Australia requested that in presenting requests to the Committee for international assistance, the Centre states, when appropriate, if the competent advisory body has been consulted. The Committee requested the advisory bodies to inform the World Heritage Centre of all their activities concerning World Heritage sites. In order to facilitate the consultations with the advisory bodies, the Committee decided to modify in paragraph 108 of the Operational Guidelines the deadline for the submission of international assistance requests, which will now be 1 September.
A. NATURAL HERITAGE
A.1 Technical Cooperation
A.I.1 Technical Workshop on the Conservation of Simen National Park (Ethiopia) (US$ 46,000 requested)
The Committee approved the request for a reduced amount of US$ 30,000 and requested the State Party in consultation with the Secretariat and IUCN, to better define the programme of the workshop, the expected outputs and to revise the budget.
A.2.1 Nineteenth Protected Area Course CATIE, (Costa Rica) (US$ 48,000 requested)
The Committee approved a sum of US$ 30,000 for participants to attend the Nineteenth International Protected Area Course, CATIE, Costa Rica.
A.2.2 Individual Scholarships for the School for the Training of Wildlife Specialists, Garoua, (Cameroon) (US$ 45,000 requested)
The Committee approved an amount of US$ 45,000 for three scholarships for three students from State Parties of francophone African countries for a two-year period (1997/98 and 1998/99).
B. CULTURAL HERITAGE
B.1 Technical Cooperation
B.1.1 Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda (Brazil) (US$ 33,000 requested)
Considering the potential inclusion of Olinda in a major programme for the development of tourism in the north-east of Brazil with subsequent funding possibilities for the rehabilitation and restoration of Olinda, the Committee approved the amount of US$ 33,000 for this technical cooperation to support the municipality authorities in the creation of a project office in Olinda for a feasibility study on urban rehabilitation and restoration.
B.1.2 Conservation of Traditional Houses in Luang Prabang (Laos) (US$ 49,900 requested)
The Committee approved an amount of US$ 39,900 to meet the above request (with a reduction of input for the purchase of building material from US$ 20,000 to US$ 10,000) to co-finance a project to impart skills for the conservation of traditional wooden houses; to ameliorate the quality of locally produced bricks and roof tiles and to distribute traditional building material (roof tiles and wood) to renovate ten houses owned by poor families.
B.1. 3 Serra da Capivara National Park (Brazil) (US$ 35,000 requested)
The Committee approved an amount of US$ 35,000 for technical cooperation for the documentation, inventory and observation of the conditions of the rock paintings at Serra da Capivara National Park.
B.1.4 Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site (El Salvador) (US$ 10,000 requested in addition to US$ 25,000 already approved in 1994)
Considering the fragility of the site and the complexity of its conservation and management and the need to continue the process started in 1994, the Committee approved the additional amount of US$ 10,000 for an international seminar on the conservation and management of Joya de Ceren and its surroundings that will be held in 1997.
B.1.5 The Third General Assembly of the Organization of World Heritage Cities and the 4th Symposium of World Heritage (Evora, Portugal) (US$ 50,000 requested)
The Committee, in examining this request recalled the decision of the Committee at its eighteenth session that the World Heritage Fund should not finance statutory meetings nor subsidies for other organizations. The Committee noted that US$ 15,000 financial input from the 1997 UNESCO Regular Programme budget to this General Assembly of O.W.H.C. was proposed in the 1997 budget under the Promotional and Educational Activities. The Committee decided to approve a contribution of US$ 30,000 to the Municipality of Evora on an exceptional basis, for the Symposium on Tourism and World Heritage Cities. This grant from the Fund is to finance the participation of mayors of World Heritage Cities in developing countries.
B.2.1 Regional Training Course on Conservation and Protection of Monuments and Sites for Architects of the Maghreb Region in Tunis (2nd session, November 1996 - July 1998) (Tunisia) (US$ 36,000 requested)
The Committee approved US$ 36,000 for three fellowships for three non-Tunisian students for the second session of the two-year in a regional training activity of the course, which would result greatest importance.
B.2.2 Latin America and the Caribbean: Regional Graduate Training Course on 'Integrated Urban and Territorial Conservation' (ITUC/BR) (request submitted by Brazil) (US$ 42,600 requested)
The course responds to the training strategy for cultural heritage and the needs identified through a great number of state of conservation reports. Considering that the course is the first one of its kind in the region, that twenty-three World Heritage sites in the region are historical cities or urban areas representing fifty percent of the cultural sites, the Committee approved an amount of US$ 40,000, providing that fellowships be awarded to participants with a responsibility for properties inscribed on the World Heritage List.
B.2.3 Pilot Project on Conservation Programme James Island (Gambia) (US$ 40,000 requested)
The Committee approved the amount of US$ 40,000 in the light of the recommendation for the training strategy south of the Sahara, and requested ICCROM/GAIA to implement this project which is an illustration of their strategic approach. The project will cover on-site training in James Island to enable the Museums and Monuments Department to prepare conservation plans not only for James Island but for other sites as well.
B.2.4 Training Course for an Integrated Approach to Urban Conservation (ICCROM) (US$ 40,000 requested)
Given that the advisory bodies are being requested, within the overall strategy described in Document WHC-96/CONF.201/12, to develop thematic courses at the international level and adapt them at the regional level, the Committee approved the amount of US$ 30,000 to co-finance an international training workshop for World Heritage City managers to be organized at ICCROM with participants responsible for the conservation management of historic cities or areas, and teachers.
B.2.5 Conservation of Immovable Property in Sub-Sahara, Africa (ICCROM) (US$ 50,000 requested)
Given that the pilot project for Africa is part of the overall training strategy for cultural properties as described in Document WHC-96/CONF.201/12, the Committee approved the amount of US$ 50,000. This amount will co-finance the implementation of the first phase of the project, to organize a seminar in Africa with African partners, and identify scientific partners for thematic approaches for the preservation of stone, brick and wood and timber conservation and archaeological sites.
Lao People's Democratic Republic
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).