1.         Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 1348)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2011

Criteria  (iii)(iv)(v)

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/1348/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2007-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1348/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 202,917 (2001-2010: Technical and Financial Assistance from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Culture in the framework of France-UNESCO Cooperation.

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Protection Policy does not adequately integrate cultural landscapes;

b) Lack of human and financial resources;

c) Development or infrastructure projects that may affect the integrity of the property;

d) Management Plan still incomplete and lack of an Action Plan.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1348/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

Decision 35 COM 8B.23 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011) requested the State Party to give consideration to the following:

a) Pursuing and extending the policy of protection and conservation of the cultural landscapes, notably through the revision of the Antiquities Law,

b) Increase the number of guards for those parks with the least number or which are most exposed to illegal activity,

c) Confirm that Park No 1 (Saint Simeon Sanctuary) is not affected by a project for high voltage power lines,

d) Confirm the complete rejection of the large property development project in Park No 3 (Sinkhar site),

e) Confirm that the visual integrity of Park No 5 (Jebel Zawiye) is not compromised by large quarry and/or industrial projects,

f) Complete as soon as possible the land surveys for each of the parks, under the supervision of the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM),

g) Maintain throughout the management transition period, DGAM's prerogatives for the supervision of the preservation and conservation of the property,

h) Provide the ‘Maison du patrimoine’ and parks management centres with the human and material resources commensurate with their new missions for the protection, conservation, and economic and tourism development of the property as stipulated in the Management Plan,

i) Finalise the Management Plan and the Action Plan with a schedule of actions considered suitable for the property's conservation and its expression of Outstanding Universal Value, together with their implementation timeframes,

j) Detail the monitoring indicators for the property's conservation as a function of the particularities of each site and as a function of more extensive landscape data.

On 30 January, 2012, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, in which it evokes the present difficulties in the country and indicates the following progress made: 1. The Committee established within the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) has made progress on amendments to the Antiquities Law of 1963 to take better account of protection of cultural heritage, notably that of cultural landscapes; 2. The implementation of the protection, management, and action plan for the property has been undertaken with the Regional Development Authority, to include them in the regional land-use plans and involve the different authorities responsible for their implementation and monitoring. Notably, the following elements are being undertaken:

a) Monitoring of the appropriation measures on the Roueiha site is funded as a priority;

b) The Sinkhar site is designated as fully protected against potential real estate projects unsuitable for its preservation;

c) A budget has been earmarked for the protection and rehabilitation of the Ancient Villages in the year 2012, which will enable the preparation of the Management Plan and the contractual implementation of a study conducted by the DGAM on the long-term management and conservation of the property;

d) A documentary project in the form of a database and Geographic Information System is announced for the sites of Saint Simeon and Jebel Zawiye.

Recruitment of qualified personnel, notably in archeology, has been announced statewide, in particular for the two regional offices of the DGAM responsible for the property, but without further explanation; likewise for the guards of the sites.

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

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies consider that the report of the State Party only partially meets the recommendations of Decision 35 COM 8B.23, while noting the present circumstances experienced by the State Party. Recommendation d) is met; Recommendations a), h), and g) are partially met or are announced as close to being met; the other recommendations are not. It is therefore necessary to closely monitor the implementation of these recommendations. Moreover, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies were informed by various sources, unverifiable at this time, of damage to the village of Barra and risks to the property as a whole because of the situation in the country.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.58

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,

2.   Recalling Decision 35 COM 8B.23, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.   Expresses its utmost concern for the country's current situation, the loss of life and potential risks to the property;

4.   Notes the report sent by the State Party and the circumstances that hinder the implementation of responses to recommendations of the World Heritage Committee;

5.   Maintains most of its previous recommendations and requests the State Party to:

a)  Continue and extend the policy of protection and conservation of the cultural landscapes, notably through the revision of the Antiquities Law,

b)  Increase the number of guards for the parks with the least number or those most exposed to illegal activity,

c)  Confirm that Park No.1 (Saint Simeon Sanctuary) is not affected by a project for high voltage power lines,

d)  Confirm that the visual integrity of Park No. 5 (Jebel Zawiye) is not compromised by large quarry and/or industrial projects,

e)  Promptly complete the land surveys for each of the parks, under the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM)’s supervision,

f)   Maintain throughout the management transition period, DGAM’s prerogatives for the supervision of the preservation and conservation of the property,

g)  Provide the “Maison du patrimoine” and park management centres with the human and material resources commensurate with their new missions for the protection, conservation, and economic and tourism development of the property as stipulated in the Management Plan,

h)  Finalize the Management Plan and the Action Plan with a schedule of actions considered suitable for the property’s conservation and its expression of Outstanding Universal Value, together with their implementation timeframes,

i)    Detail the monitoring indicators for the property’s conservation as a function of the particularities of each site and as a function of more extensive landscape data;

6.   Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the WorldHeritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.