1.         Old City of Sana'a (Yemen) (C 385)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1986

Criteria  (iv)(v)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2015-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Damages and threats related to the armed conflict in Yemen

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-2014)
Total amount approved: USD 101,997
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: 1988: USD 374,800, UNDP/UNESCO project in support of local staff training and fund-raising. 2004-2006: USD 60,000 for the Inventory of the historic city (Italian Funds-in-Trust); USD 12,000 for technical assistance in support of the reconstruction of the al-Qasimi neighborhood (Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH))

Previous monitoring missions

1998, 1999, 2003: World Heritage Centre monitoring missions; 2003 to 2005 and 2010: World Heritage Centre and experts missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 20 March 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/documents/, in which the following matters are reported:

The State Party has extended an open invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to evaluate the state of conservation of the property and identify measures needed to reverse current deterioration of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

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

The armed conflict in Yemen continues to severely affect and further threaten the OUV of the property. Satellite-detected damage in the City of Sana'a, published by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in March 2017, based on satellite imagery from December 2016, identified 217 affected structures, of which 33 were destroyed, 8 severely damaged, and 176 moderately damaged, representing an increase of approximately 138.5% in total damage since the previous UNITAR UNOSAT analysis based on an image from 15 May 2015. This is a preliminary analysis, which has not yet been validated in the field and the reported damage may extend beyond the property itself, but by any measure this is a highly-concerning level of damage.

GOPHCY’s involvement in damage assessment, documentation, first-aid interventions, preparatory training and communication with the World Heritage Centre, UNESCO Office in Doha and the Advisory Bodies is highly appreciated. However, the exchanges of information and consultation on the state of conservation of the property and first-aid measures need to be further reinforced.

The situation within the property for both residents and buildings remains dire. Although the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS have supported reconstruction plans to sustain shelter for the inhabitants, and clear technical restoration guidelines have been provided, implementation has stopped in light of the security situation and lack of resources.

The World Heritage Centre received information, which was confirmed by GOPHCY, on new constructions being built or under construction within the property, illustrated by pictures that show the inadequacy of these new buildings in the historic urban fabric of the city. Although the needs in terms of housing and basic shelter and services for the inhabitants are a priority, these should be done in consultation with the Advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre in order to ensure that the impact on the OUV of property is not incrementally affected.

Support from the international community remains essential for capacity building to conduct adequate preventive and restoration measures at the property, in relation to the armed conflict, within the framework of the July 2015 Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural heritage. Although future donor support is necessarily constrained unless and until the security situation improves, emergency interventions for the reconstruction of destroyed houses still require immediate financial and technical support, to sustain people’s livelihoods and ensure that these interventions include due consideration of the property’s World Heritage status and its OUV.

The Water and Sewerage project is currently not proceeding owing to the conflict, but the Committee’s position on this project should be maintained. Owing to the security conditions prevailing in the country, it’s still difficult for World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to provide further support to the State Party on the Action Plan for the National Strategy for the Preservation of the Historic Cities, Sites and Monuments 2016 – 2020, nor is it currently possible to arrange a joint Reactive Monitoring mission, despite the open invitation from the State Party.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.52

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.24, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Expresses its continuing concern at the recent damage caused to the cultural heritage of Yemen as a result of ongoing armed conflict, and that the Old City of Sana’a has incurred irreversible destruction, and continues to be vulnerable, owing to the current security situation, ongoing social change and continuing lack of organisational support and resources for both heritage management and physical conservation;
  4. Commends the State Party for its involvement in damage assessment, documentation and emergency interventions, and for its communication with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies and welcomes the open invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as soon as the security situation in Yemen has improved;
  5. Urges all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage of Yemen and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of properties on the World Heritage List and those included in the Tentative List of Yemen, and encourages all concerned stakeholders to unite for the preservation of cultural heritage in Yemen;
  6. Notes that the State Party has undertaken a range of remedial and preparatory actions including staff training and a technical study, and emergency intervention, but regrets that further conservation actions or other projects at the property cannot proceed owing to the security situation and lack of resources;
  7. Notes with concern the construction of new buildings within the property without prior consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, further information on these new buildings and on new projects prior to initiate any construction works;
  8. Also urges the State Party to continue dialogue and consultations with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in all restoration and/or reconstruction processes to ensure the safety of the inhabitants and the respect of international conservation standards;
  9. Reiterates its previous call to the international community to provide technical and financial support, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, for the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural heritage, adopted at the UNESCO Expert meeting in July 2015, including funding for capacity building and first-aid restoration and protection measures; and also calls on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue providing the State Party with technical assistance and support where needed;
  10. Reiterates its previous requests to the State Party to:
    1. Maintain a moratorium on new development or new construction, pending completion of the proposed Conservation Plan and, where appropriate, project-specific heritage impact assessments,
    2. Prior to proceeding with the proposed rehabilitation of the water and sewerage project, prepare a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), which includes assessment of impacts on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), in line with the relevant 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties, and submit a copy of the HIA to the World Heritage Centre prior to making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines,
    3. Develop, as soon as it is feasible and in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  11. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
  12. Decides to retain Old City of Sana'a (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 41 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/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: