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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1287

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1287 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress, initial timeframe adopted now requires review

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 159,000 (2011-2012) from the Swiss Funds-in-Trust; USD 900,000 (2013) from the Italian Funds-in-Trust; USD 5,435,284 (2013-2016) from the Korean Funds-in-Trust

Previous monitoring missions

November 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICCROM Advisory mission; April 2011: UNESCO Kabul/ICOMOS Advisory mission; May/June 2014 ICOMOS technical Advisory mission; UNESCO expert missions in the context of the implementation of specific projects

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 23 February 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents. However, it should be noted that this report contained a large number of activities carried out prior to 2015, making it difficult to have a clear picture of what has been done in 2015, in particular with regard to the recommendations and decisions made by the Committee at its 39th session. The World Heritage Centre solicited assistance from the UNESCO Office in Kabul to obtain further information necessary to provide the present accurate and updated report.

The State Party has, on several occasions, stated that it would like at least one of the Buddha niches to be partially reconstructed – most likely the Eastern one, as it is less damaged. In its report, it explains that several different proposals for such a project have been received, and that it wishes to pursue one of these options once the lower gallery of the Eastern Buddha niche is consolidated and sufficient funding available. An International Symposium is foreseen as part of the forthcoming Phase V of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-In-Trust (JFIT) project for the safeguarding of Bamiyan, in order to hold an in-depth discussion on this topic with all the relevant stakeholders. The State Party would also like to take this opportunity to discuss how to implement the recommendations made by the May/June 2014 ICOMOS technical Advisory mission.

In 2015, no major conservation work has been carried out in the Buddha niches, as the approval of Phase V of the UNESCO/JFIT project has been delayed. Consequently, the construction of the scaffolding in front of the Western Buddha niche remained incomplete, which may have caused some damage to the existing scaffolding.

Conservation works were carried out on the pre-Islamic site of Shari Gholgholah in 2015, thanks to financial support from the UNESCO/Italy FIT. A conservation treatment plan was developed to address the erosion issues at the site and to carry out some of the most urgent conservation work for endangered mud brick structures that are gradually collapsing. As part of this project, safe access to the site was also granted by stabilizing the walking paths.

Furthermore, the State Party’s report underlines the urgent need for conservation at other components of the property. It reports that in some cases, remaining structures at the sites such as Shahri-Zohak, Kakrak and Shahi Gholgholah are in danger of collapsing and have been suffering from serious erosion. The report highlights that the relevant authorities’ lack of expertise and financial resources to adequately deal with these urgent and serious issues.

Finally, it is reported that the finalized Management Plan has been integrated into the Bamiyan City Master Plan as a planning tool within the property through the Government Decree no 5432. 

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

It must be noted that no major conservation works could be carried out in the Buddha niches due to delays with the approval of the UNESCO/JFIT project for the safeguarding of the Bamiyan Valley. It is hoped that the project can be approved soon, which would allow the State Party and UNESCO to resume conservation works in both niches, and in particular the consolidation of the rear wall of the Western Buddha niche, which is considered the most urgent and crucial task.

The State Party’s reports highlighted the need to urgently consolidate and conserve the other components of the property in the Bamiyan Valley, which have been gradually collapsing, thereby risking the loss of the property’ s integrity. It is recommended that the Committee call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support not only to the Buddha niches, but to the other sites inscribed as part of the property.

For the first time, the State Party formally expressed its plan to explore the partial reconstruction of at least one of the Buddha niches. It is recommended that, for any reconstruction project, the State Party strictly comply with the Committee’s Decision 35 COM 7A.25, which stated that any consideration of reconstruction should be based on an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and on an overall approach to conservation and presentation of the property. Before any technical feasibility studies are undertaken, there is a need for any proposed reconstruction project to be justified in relation to OUV and for such an assessment to be developed in close consultation with all relevant stakeholders and reviewed by the Advisory Bodies.

It must be noted that the property’s Management Plan has been finalized and incorporated into the Bamiyan City Master Plan, a planning tool aiming to control development pressure and carry out sustainable development projects. This is one of the key conditions for the efficient implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the Committee in Decision 31 COM 7A.21 (Christchurch, 2007), and must therefore be welcomed as a significant step forward. However, no recent information has been provided on how the Management Plan is being implemented nor on how the Master Plan functions as a tool to control the strong development pressure observed over the past years. In view of recent reports of large-scale development pressures, there is a great need to enforce building codes and regulations for development projects in the buffer zones and the overall setting of the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request to be updated on these crucial issues.

The State Party’s reports also indicate that a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) has been carried out by a team from the Bamiyan University for the proposed Bamiyan Cultural Centre and Museum. However, this study’s scope and objectives need to be clearly defined in order to deal with the impact that the setting of the project might have on the property’s OUV.

Finally, improvements to site security must be noted and welcomed. In 2015, the Ministry of Information and Culture, in co-operation with the UNESCO Office in Kabul, has deployed eight on-site guards to each of the components of the serial property, in order to control illegal or unauthorized access to the site. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior has deployed a team of police officers for the protection of cultural properties, which have effectively stopped illicit trafficking and unauthorized access to the World Heritage property. Restoring the site’s security is a precondition for the full implementation of the corrective measures and the safeguarding of the property’s OUV, and it is recommended that the Committee welcome this important step towards the implementation of corrective measures.

In conclusion, positive developments have been observed in the implementation of corrective measures, although it is regrettable that conservation work in crucial areas such as the Western Buddha niche could not be continued. It is considered essential that an in-depth discussion take place as soon as possible between the State Party and the relevant experts, in order to establish a new timeframe leading to the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Finally it is essential that any proposals for reconstruction of the Eastern Buddha niche are appraised in relation to the OUV of the property, and reviewed by the Advisory Bodies for consideration in principle by the World Heritage Committee, before detailed technical and financial feasibility studies are undertaken.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7A.26

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.39, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Notes with satisfaction that the Management Plan has been officially adopted and integrated into the Bamiyan City Master Plan, a tool which aims to control development pressures, but regrets that no updated report has been submitted on how these mechanisms work, especially in view of the strong development pressures observed recently;
  4. Urges the State Party to continue vigilantly implementing the Management Plan for the World Heritage property and the Bamiyan City Master plan, and to enforce building codes and regulations for development projects in the buffer zones of the property and other areas protected under the 2004 Afghan Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties;
  5. Requests the State Party to carry out a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the proposed Cultural Centre and Museum in Bamiyan, in line with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, after clearly defining the scope of this study with regard to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  6. Expresses its concerns over the state of conservation of some of the property’s components which have been reported as being seriously deteriorated and in imminent danger of collapse, and calls upon the international community to provide technical and financial support not only to the Bamiyan Valley, but also to other components of this serial property, such as Shahri-Zohak, Kakrak and Shari Gholgholah, in order to help the State Party reach the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  7. Also notes the State Party’s wish to partially reconstruct at least one of the Buddha niches and that in the framework of the Japan Funds-in-Trust project an international symposium is to be organized at the end of the year to discuss possible reconstruction, and also requests the State Party to discuss the brief for this symposium with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in advance of the event;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit the outcomes of the symposium and an agreed overall approach to reconstruction and conservation of  the property in relation to OUV, for review by the Advisory Bodies and consideration by the World Heritage Committee, before  any detailed technical and financial feasibility studies are undertaken for a specific reconstruction project;
  9. Also notes with satisfaction the progress accomplished by the State Party, in co-operation with the UNESCO Office in Kabul, in ensuring the site’s security, and welcomes the deployment to each of the components of the property of eight on-site guards who, in addition to the police officers deployed by the Ministry of Interior, have effectively stopped illicit traffic of cultural property and increased the site’s security;
  10. Also urges the State Party to review, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures and to submit this revised timeframe to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Committee;
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to elaborate and implement, with the support of international donors, a capacity-building programme to strengthen local and national capacities with regard to heritage conservation and management, including the development of the local communities’ capacity to contribute to the safeguarding the property;
  12. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017;
  13. Decides to retain Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 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/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: