1.         Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) (C 121bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iii)(iv)(vi)

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/121/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1998)
Total amount approved: USD 315,679
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

There have been UNESCO Funds-in-Trust projects funded by the Government of Japan and activities supported by the UNESCO Division of Cultural Heritage within the framework of the International Safeguarding Campaign (see Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.13). Other earmarked voluntary contributions to the UNESCO World Heritage Fund from NGOs (US$ 90,000) and private sector donors (US$ 20,000) for pilot project implementation have been mobilized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for enhanced management of the Kathmandu Valley site.  

Previous monitoring missions

November 1993: UNESCO / ICOMOS joint mission; October 1999: World Heritage Centre mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: The Committee, at its seventeenth session, expressed deep concern over the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley site and considered the possibility of placing it on the List of World Heritage in Danger, following discussions on the findings of the 1993 Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS Review Mission.

At its twenty-first session, the Committee examined the state of conservation report of this site, and in view of the continued deterioration of the World Heritage values in the Bauddhanath and Kathmandu Monument Zones, affecting the site’s integrity and inherent characteristics, the Committee requested the Secretariat, in collaboration with ICOMOS and His Majesty’s Government (HMG) of Nepal, to study the possibility of deleting selected areas within some Monument Zones, without jeopardizing the universal significance and value of the site as a whole. This review was to take into consideration the intention of HMG of Nepal to nominate Kokhana as an additional Monument Zone.

The Committee authorized up to US$ 35,000 from the World Heritage Fund Technical Co­operation budget for a Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal team to conduct a thorough study and to elaborate a programme for corrective measures in accordance with paragraphs 82­ 89 of the Operational Guidelines. Based upon the information of this study and recommendations of the Bureau, the Committee, at its twenty-first session, decided that it could consider whether or not to inscribe this site on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its twenty-second session. Following this decision, a Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission was organized in March-April 1998.

The Committee examined the findings and results of the Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission, and the 55 recommendations and Time-Bound Action Plan adopted by HMG of Nepal. The Committee commended HMG of Nepal for its efforts in strengthening the management of the Kathmandu Valley site with the creation of the Heritage Conservation Unit. The Committee took note of the special efforts made by the local authorities to raise awareness amongst the private home-owners to prevent further illegal demolition and inappropriate new constructions.

The Committee decided to defer consideration of the inscription of the Kathmandu Valley site on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its twenty-third session. However, the Committee requested HMG of Nepal to continue implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint Mission and to respect the deadlines of the Time-Bound Action Plan adopted by HMG of Nepal. In addition, the Committee recommended that HMG of Nepal adopts the three additional ICOMOS recommendations annexed to the 55 recommendations already adopted by HMG of Nepal. Moreover, the Committee requested HMG of Nepal to submit a report on the progress made in implementing the 55 recommendations before 15 April 1999 for examination by the twenty-third session of the Bureau in June 1999.

Finally, the Committee requested HMG of Nepal to take measures to ensure that adequate protection and management are put into place at Kokhana, prior to its nomination as an additional Monument Zone to the Kathmandu Valley site.

New information: HMG of Nepal submitted a progress report on the implementation of the 55 recommendations of the Joint Mission on 13 April 1999 to the World Heritage Centre. This new information is presented in Information Document WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.12. HMG of Nepal has completed eight out of 11 Time-Bound Actions, which were to be completed before 30 November 1998.

However, important actions such as Actions 2 and 7, which relate to the approval of the Ancient Monument Preservation Rules, including the establishment of the classification criteria of monuments into international, national and local importance, have not been completed. The delay in the establishment of the Rules, originally expected to have been approved by the Cabinet by 30 June 1998, is of serious concern, as they are essential tools for the relevant authorities in implementing the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act. They will also enable a Monuments Conservation Fund to be established. Action 8, which is the approval of the Master Plan of Bauddhanath Monument Zone, is still pending although the original date of implementation was 30 November 1998.

In view of the serious concern expressed by the Committee at its twenty-first session concerning alarming and flagrant building violations surrounding the Bauddhanath stupa, a feasibility study for correcting illegal buildings at Bauddhanath Monument Zone was being undertaken by HMG of Nepal, following the detailed recommendations of ICOMOS during the Joint Mission. Although a preliminary progress report on the feasibility study was submitted by HMG of Nepal in June 1998, no further information has been presented concerning the technical and financial feasibility for correcting the illegal buildings immediately surrounding the stupa, nor for enforcing building regulations within Bauddhanath Monument Zone.

Action Required

The Bureau examined the progress report submitted by HMG of Nepal in implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission and the report of the Secretariat. The Bureau requests HMG of Nepal to continue implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint Mission and urges HMG of Nepal to respect the deadlines for the implementation of the Time-Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures, especially in relation to the establishment of the essential Ancient Monuments Preservation Rules which should increase the capacity of the relevant authorities in implementing the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act and in establishing a Monuments Conservation Fund for safeguarding the Kathmandu Valley site.

The Bureau requests HMG of Nepal to report on the progress made in enforcing existing building regulations at Bauddhanath Monument Zone, and on the technical and financial plan for correcting the illegal buildings immediately surrounding the stupa, following the detailed recommendations of ICOMOS during the Joint Mission, before 15 September 1999.

Finally, the Bureau requests HMG of Nepal to submit a report on the further progress made in implementing the 55 recommendations before 15 September 1999 for examination by the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau in November 1999.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

World Heritage Committee, sixteenth session - Chapter VIII.9

World Heritage Committee, seventeenth session - Chapter X.8

World Heritage Bureau, eighteenth session - Chapter VI.21

World Heritage Committee, eighteenth session - Chapter IX.22

World Heritage Committee, nineteenth session - Chapter VII.46

World Heritage Committee, twentieth session  -Chapter VII.52

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-first session – Chapter IV.50

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-first extraordinary session –Chapter III.C

World Heritage Committee, twenty-first session - Chapter VII.53

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-second session - Chapter V.55

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-second extraordinary session - Chapter III.C

World Heritage Committee, twenty-second session - Chapter VII.37

World Heritage Bureau, twenty-third session – Chapter IV.69

 

 

Information Documents:

WHC-99/Conf.208/INF.8.A         

Report submitted by HMG of Nepal on the progress made in implementing the 55 Recommendations of the 1998 Joint Mission and Time-Bound Action Plan adopted by HMG of Nepal for enhanced management and conservation of Katmandu Valley World Heritage site

WHC-99/Conf.208/INF.8.B         

Report of the World Heritage Centre mission in October 1999 on the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage site, responding to questions raised by the World Heritage Committee in previous sessions

WHC-99/Conf.208/INF.8.C         

Report of an independent international expert on the state of conservation of Kathmandu Valley World Hertage site.

 

New information:During a mission undertaken by a World Heritage Centre staff to Kathmandu Valley in October 1999, it noted with deep concern that in Patan Darbar Square Monument Zone alone, six historic buildings had been completely demolished since the 1998 Joint Mission and new constructions were either completed or in progress, using reinforced concrete and without authentic design nor building material. The World Heritage Centre staff, with the assistance of UNESCO Kathmandu office experts, found that in most cases, demolition and reconstruction permits had been issued to each homeowner by the Department of Archaeology, despite the conditions of the historic buildings which would have permitted in-situ repair. These buildings included historic buildings with inherent characteristics which ICOMOS experts had recommended retention and repair during the 1998 Joint Mission.  Furthermore, five cases of floor additions on historic buildings ; construction of illegal cantilevers within the Monument Zone ; or refacing of store-fronts destroying the authentic architectural characteristics were witnessed. The mission noted that a public rest-house within the Patan Darbar Square Monument Zone, which had been recognized by ICOMOS and international experts as having been in good condition in 1998, had also just been completely demolished, including the removal of the original foundation stones, and replaced by new and inappropriate brick and cement walls.

The mission also reported that a particularly important historic building facing the Hanuman Dhoka Darbar Square Monument Zone, which had been specifically noted by ICOMOS experts for its architectural significance and recommended for in-situ restoration had also been entirely demolished. This historic building, the Joshi Agmacche, was being replaced by a new construction with reinforced concrete and newly carved wooden pillars, while the mission witnessed discarded authentic pillars, which could have been reused.

In view of the serious threats, both ascertained and potential, facing the site, a report by an independent international expert, who participated at the 1998 Joint Mission as an ICOMOS expert, is currently under preparation.  The report of this mission, which will summarize the degree of serious deterioration of materials, structure, ornamental features, architectural coherence, and the essential settings of the Monument Zones under the protection of the World Heritage Convention, as well as an evaluation of the degree of historical authenticity still remaining within the World Heritage Site, will be presented to the Bureau at its 23rd extraordinary session for examination.

The attention of the Bureau is drawn to the fact that the cases referred to above and those of numerous other demolitions and inappropriate reconstructions reported to the Bureau and Committee at almost each session since 1993, whether carried out with or without the permission of the Department of Archaeology, are indications of the very serious degree of uncontrolled change and deterioration caused to the Monument Zones placed under the protection of the World Heritage Convention in 1979.

 

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.69

The Committee, at its seventeenth session, expressed deep concern over the state of conservation of the Kathmandu Valley site and considered the possibility of placing it on the List of World Heritage in Danger, following discussions on the findings of the 1993 Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS Review Mission.

At its twenty-first session, the Committee examined the state of conservation report of this site, and in view of the continued deterioration of the World Heritage values in the Bauddhanath and Kathmandu Monument Zones, affecting the site’s integrity and inherent characteristics, the Committee requested the Secretariat, in collaboration with ICOMOS and His Majesty’s Government (HMG) of Nepal, to study the possibility of deleting selected areas within some Monument Zones, without jeopardizing the universal significance and value of the site as a whole.  This review was to take into consideration the intention of HMG of Nepal to nominate Kokhana as an additional Monument Zone.

The Committee authorized a Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal team to conduct a thorough study and to elaborate a programme for corrective measures in accordance with paragraphs 82-89 of the Operational Guidelines.  Based upon the information of this study and recommendations of the Bureau, the Committee, at its twenty-first session, decided that it could consider whether or not to inscribe this site on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its twenty-second session.  Following this decision, a Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission was organized in March-April 1998.

The Committee examined the findings and results of the Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission, and the 55 recommendations and Time-Bound Action Plan adopted by HMG of Nepal. The Committee commended HMG of Nepal for its efforts in strengthening the management of the Kathmandu Valley site with the creation of the Heritage Conservation Unit. The Committee took note of the special efforts made by the local authorities to raise awareness amongst the private home owners to prevent further illegal demolition and inappropriate new constructions.

The Committee decided to defer consideration of the inscription of the Kathmandu Valley site on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its twenty-third session. However, the Committee requested HMG of Nepal to continue implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint Mission, to respect the deadlines of the Time-Bound Action Plan adopted by HMG of Nepal and in addition, recommended that HMG of Nepal adopts the three additional ICOMOS recommendations annexed to the 55 recommendations. HMG of Nepal was requested to submit a progress report before 15 April 1999 for examination by the twenty-third session of the Bureau in June 1999.

The Committee at the time also requested HMG of Nepal to take measures to ensure that adequate protection and management are put into place at Kokhana, prior to its nomination as an additional Monument Zone to the Kathmandu Valley site.

The Bureau examined the reports of the Secretariat and HMG of Nepal in implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Mission, presented in WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.6 and WHC-99/CONF.204/INF.19. ICOMOS congratulated HMG of Nepal for its efforts to implement the Time-Bound Action Plan, and stated that the effectiveness of the Heritage Conservation Unit would be crucial for adequately safeguarding the seven Monument Zones composing the site. The Observer of Nepal reassured the Bureau that HMG of Nepal was doing its utmost to safeguard the Kathmandu Valley site, to respect the deadlines for the implementation of the Time-Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures, and that this was a priority of the recently elected Prime Minister. He stated that the Ancient Monument Preservation Rules have been amended and would be approved shortly, and assured that the Heritage Conservation Unit would soon become fully active in regular monitoring and controlling development.

The Bureau requested HMG of Nepal to continue implementing the 55 recommendations of the Joint Mission and urges HMG of Nepal to respect the deadlines for the implementation of the Time-Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures, especially in relation to the establishment of the essential Ancient Monuments Preservation Rules which should increase the capacity of the relevant authorities in implementing the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act and in establishing a Monuments Conservation Fund for safeguarding the Kathmandu Valley site.

The Bureau requested HMG of Nepal to report on the progress made in enforcing existing building regulations at Bauddhanath Monument Zone, and on the technical and financial plan for correcting the illegal buildings immediately surrounding the stupa, following the detailed recommendations of ICOMOS during the Joint Mission, before 15 September 1999. 

Finally, the Bureau requested HMG of Nepal to submit a report on the further progress made in implementing the 55 recommendations before 15 September 1999 for examination by the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau in November 1999.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.42

X.42 Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

The Secretariat, in reporting on the discussions during the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau and its recommendations, reminded the Committee that the Kathmandu Valley inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 is composed of seven Monument Zones. While these zones also contain builtup areas composed of traditional buildings, the boundaries of the protected areas were defined on the basis of a monumental vision, rather than with the objective of protecting a larger urban heritage. Thus, given the relatively limited number of traditional buildings in the World Heritage area, their protection is even more important in forming the essential setting within each Monument Zone. The Committee noted that in the case of Bauddhanath Monument Zone, there were approximately 88 historic buildings surrounding the stupa in 1979 that provided the setting, both physical and spiritual, of this important site of pilgrimage. In 1993 at the time of the UNESCO-ICOMOS Joint Mission, there remained 27, and despite concerted efforts in conserving the site with substantive support from the international community, only 15 remained in 1998.

During the discussions, the Committee noted that inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger has been deferred many times, in order to provide more time to apply conservation measures in accordance with the 16 Recommendations of 1993, and the 55 Recommendations and a Time-Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures of 1998, officially adopted by HMG of Nepal. The Committee, although noting that periodic reports, submitted either by the State Party or the World Heritage Centre, examined by each session of the Bureau and Committee since 1993, demonstrated the efforts being made by the State Party, it was obliged to note the deterioration of the site in its ensemble.

ICCROM congratulated the State Party for its continuing efforts to strengthen protection of the site over the last six years, but stated that it remained deeply concerned over the apparent and increasing loss of the authentic historic fabrics of the site, which it recalled, was the reason that prompted the 1993 UNESCOICOMOS Joint Mission to recommend inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Representative of ICCROM stated that if the Committee is to support the recommendation of the Bureau to send a High Level Mission, the mandate of the mission should focus on:

- clarifying to the authorities at the highest level, the purpose of inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

- defining more precisely the conditions to be met to warrant eventual inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in the Committee's deliberations in year 2000;

- giving further attention to measures which can address the root causes of the demolitions of the vernacular fabrics of the Monument Zones;

- giving attention to establishing base-line data for continuing documentation of the historic buildings.

The advice given by ICCROM was supported by the Delegate of Thailand. To mitigate the real danger threatening this site, the Delegate of Hungary underlined the importance of co-operation between States Parties for enhanced urban heritage management, and in this regard, invited Nepal to participate at the Integrated Urban Conservation Training Workshop and Seminar for Central European Historic City Managers which Hungary planned to organize in 2000.

The Committee underlined that, while it had deferred inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its next session, it recognized the serious loss of the authentic urban fabrics detected within the site over the past years. Several members of the Bureau had been willing to inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger right away, and it was only after a working group that the Bureau had deferred the inscription. It stressed that the gravity of the situation should not be underestimated. Moreover, the Committee underscored that inscription of a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger should not be considered as an exercise of black-listing sites, but understood to serve as a conservation tool and as part of a process to draw international technical assistance and to rally the necessary political will and public support at the national level in favour of conservation.

The Observer of HMG of Nepal expressed his Government's gratitude for the Committee's keen interest in the protection of the site, as well as for the professional assistance provided over the years by the advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre. He reported on the Government's efforts made in implementing the 55 Recommendations and the Time-Bound Action Plan for Corrective Measures adopted by HMG of Nepal, but stressed the difficulties faced by his Government in controlling damage in the Monument Zones. He therefore requested the Committee to consider prolonging the deadlines for implementing the Time- Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures. The Observer informed the Committee that the Prime Minister, aware of the need for concerted national efforts beyond those being made by the Department of Archaeology, had instructed the relevant Ministries to take necessary action for enhancing the management of the site. The Observer stated that although Kathmandu Valley is a Nepalese World Heritage site, the responsibility to ensure its integrity and authenticity is also that of the international community at large and the Committee. Finally, he assured the Committee that the HMG of Nepal would welcome the High Level Mission, composed of the Chairperson of the Committee, the Director of the World Heritage Centre and international experts selected by ICOMOS.

The Committee, in conclusion, recalled the reports of the twenty-third ordinary and extraordinary session of the Bureau, and adopted the following:

"The Committee examined the state of conservation reports presented in WHC-99/CONF-209/INF.17A,B,C,D, and expressed deep concern over the serious degree of uncontrolled change and deterioration of the authenticity and integrity of the Monument Zones placed under the protection of the World Heritage Convention. It noted with appreciation that the State Party had made every effort to implement the 16 Recommendations of the 1993 UNESCO-ICOMOS Joint Mission, as well as the 55 Recommendations of the 1998 UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Joint Mission and the Time- Bound Action Plan for Corrective Measures.

The Committee requested HMG of Nepal to continue making all possible efforts to protect the remaining authentic historic urban fabric within the Kathmandu Valley site. The Committee requested the Secretariat and the Advisory Bodies to continue to assist the State Party as appropriate and to the extent possible: in strengthening its capacity in controlling development, retaining historic buildings in-situ, and in correcting illegal construction and alteration of historic buildings within the Kathmandu Valley site.

The Committee decided to defer inscription of the Kathmandu Valley site on the List of World Heritage in Danger again, until the next session of the Committee.

Moreover, in view of the fact that the demolition and new construction or alterations of historic buildings within the Kathmandu Valley have persisted in spite of the concerted international and national efforts, resulting in the loss or continuous and gradual deterioration of materials, structure, ornamental features, and architectural coherence making the essential settings of the Monument Zones as well as in their authentic characters, the Committee requested a High Level Mission to be undertaken to hold discussions with representatives of HMG of Nepal in early 2000. This High Level Mission would be composed of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee or a representative of the Committee members, a senior staff of the World Heritage Centre, and two eminent international experts selected by ICOMOS. The findings of the mission would be reported the next sessions of the Bureau and Committee, in 2000."