Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2003
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 measuresIn progress, initial timeframe adopted now requires review
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents/
Requests approved: 0
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,
Decision Adopted: 40 COM 8C.2
The World Heritage Committee,