1.         Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) (C 885)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2000

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2016-present

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

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/885/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-2018)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

October 2002: Monitoring mission by an international expert; March 2006: UNESCO Tashkent/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; June 2014: UNESCO Tashkent fact-finding mission; March 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 1 December 2017, the State Party submitted details and documentation of the work carried out at Shakhrisyabz as requested by the Committee in Decision 41 COM 7A.57, and a further state of conservation report on 1 February 2018, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/documents. The report and documentation provide the following details in response to requests of the Committee:

The programme of demolition work and new landscaping in the heart of the historic centre was approved by the Cabinet of the Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan on 20 February 2014, as part of a ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’. The aim was to promote tourism and the economic potential of the historic part of the city by displaying the main cultural heritage monuments in a landscaped setting. Following the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission in December 2016, all further work has been stopped at the property.

The State Party indicates that the urban planning scheme of Shakhrisyabz will be reviewed in cooperation with national and international organisations in order to ‘ensure the harmonization of cultural heritage sites’:

In relation to the relocation of around 2,000 residents, the State Party indicates that they were all provided alternative accommodation outside the city. A project is being prepared for the reconstruction of three traditional houses in the area where the most houses were demolished.

The State Party confirms that, in future, details of all major projects will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review before decisions are made, in line with the Operational Guidelines. This process has already commenced for projects in Samarkand and Bukhara.

Concerning the decaying mural tiles on the Ak-Saray Palace, it is reported that special methods of conservation have been developed by the museum in Shakhrisyabz to re-affix them to the walls. This method will be trialled on a third of the total tiled area and, if it is successful, will be used to affix the remainder of the tiles. The State Party did not provide any details on this method.

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

In response to the Committee’s request concerning the Periodic Reporting and Reactive Monitoring processes for this property (see Decision 41 COM 7A.57), the World Heritage Centre would like to provide the following clarifications:

In view of the information provided since the last session, it is noted that the State Party is ready to collaborate with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in order to keep the property on the World Heritage List. However, the State Party has not been able to define the possible recovery of attributes, or a significant boundary modification based on recoverable attributes, in response to the Committee’s invitation to explore these options.

The plans and other details provided clearly demonstrate the extensive impact on the fabric of the historic centre of the recent major demolition and restoration work undertaken as part of the ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’. They also show how the main cultural monuments are now separated from their urban context and sit in a modern park landscape. Although work has stopped on the major reconstruction project, further work is proposed in the ‘State Programme’ to widen roads and upgrade houses in the historic centre in 2020. The plans proposed for 2020 envisage an increase in service buildings, a large increase in open green spaces, further development of roads, squares and parking lots and an expansion of preservation zones, although the latter are not defined.

The possibility of mitigation measures is mentioned but not defined, and the only changes suggested are cosmetic, relating to street lights and the removal of the children’s playground (neither of which was recommended by the December 2016 mission). The removal of the high wall built to shield the remaining houses would however be a welcome improvement.

The recent survey carried out on the residential buildings (similar to what has been done in Bukhara and Samarkand) provides a good overview of what remains of the mahallas. It highlights the fact that, although a fairly high percentage of buildings retain their traditional layout, traditional architectural details and fabric have been eroded. The number of dwellings constructed in the 19th century and early 20th century is now only 3%, and in most of these houses, only the mehmkhonwas block is preserved, with the rest of the complex having been rebuilt or reconstructed. This study highlights the need for better policies and strategies to save the essence of this now scarce architecture while efforts are made to improve the surrounding services, but it does not suggest that the remaining mahallas reflect in an exceptional way Temurid planning or construction. 

The analysis provided confirms the conclusions of the December 2016 mission that drastic and irreversible damage was caused to the remnants of Temurid urban planning and to traditional dwelling houses at the core of the medieval town. It also confirms that this loss, combined with the extensive conservation work undertaken on the main cultural monuments, has damaged the attributes to such a degree that the property can no longer justify its OUV, and that this damage cannot be reversed.

The December 2016 mission could not envisage a way to recommend mitigation measures or to suggest a boundary modification that might save either part or all of the property, and the State Party made no such suggestion in its report. Regrettably, the destruction that occurred during the development works has altered the morphology of the city to such a degree that even reclaiming the street patterns would be impossible, as the ground levels have been altered significantly, and re-instating the relationship between the monuments and the city is similarly not an attainable goal. In terms of individual monuments, all have been subject to extensive restoration that has impacted adversely on their authenticity. Only the fragmentary remains of the Ak-Saray palace might have had the capacity to stand alone, but the work carried out recently on its structures and surroundings, along with the state of conservation of the remaining tilework, would not allow it to satisfy the conditions of authenticity and integrity.

In conclusion, it is recommended that the Committee express its deep regret at the situation but consider that, since the property has lost the attributes which conveyed its OUV as defined at the time of inscription, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, it should be deleted from the World Heritage List.

Nonetheless, it is further recommended that the State Party be encouraged to put in place sensitive restoration and conservation policies for the remaining traditional buildings to maintain local characteristics and improve their services. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stand ready to provide capacity-building assistance to the State Party at the national level, notably regarding the implementation of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, the process for Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with the ICOMOS Guidelines, and other heritage management and conservation tools.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.74, 40 COM 7B.48 and 41 COM 7A.57, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively, and, in particular, its Decision 41 COM 7A.57 paragraph 11, requesting the World Heritage Committee to consider whether the property had “deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the OUV defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List”; and noting the concern that the reconstruction project ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’ represented a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines,
  3. Also recalling that the March 2016 and December 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions to the property confirmed that “the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost, that traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed” (Decision 41 COM 7A.57), and that the key attributes of the OUV have been damaged,
  4. Further recalling that States Parties have an obligation under the Convention to protect and conserve the World Cultural and Natural Heritage situated on their territory, notably to ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection and conservation of such heritage,
  5. Recalling furthermore that, according to Article 6.1 of the Convention, properties inscribed on the World Heritage List constitute ‘a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate’, and recalling furthermore the duty of the international community to assist and cooperate with States Parties in their endeavour to conserve such heritage,
  6. Regrets that no information was provided on the reconstruction and development scheme to the World Heritage Centre in due time, and before any irreversible decision was taken, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Notes that the State Party has not defined any possible mitigation measures to recover lost attributes or proposed a significant boundary modification based on any recoverable attributes, in response to the Committee’s request to explore these options;
  8. Also notes that the work is currently suspended on the ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’ and requests the State Party to halt any further work at the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz until the World Heritage Committee reconsiders this matter at its 43rd session in 2019, with the exception of possible emergency recommendations from the high-level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission referred to in paragraph 18 below;
  9. Considers that the State Party’s 2017 report has not questioned the conclusions of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  10. Also regrets that the requests of the World Heritage Committee at its 39th, 40th, and 41st sessions were not properly addressed to protect key attributes of the OUV of the property;
  11. Takes note of the Decree of the Government of the State Party and its annex that includes a road map on the protection of the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz;
  12. Bearing in mind the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that “recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage” (41 COM.7A.57), recommends that the State Party should further explore options for the potential recovery of attributes and, if needed, consider, in consultation with ICOMOS, whether a significant boundary modification based on some of the monuments and the remaining urban areas might have the potential to justify OUV;
  13. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, for review by ICOMOS, including:
    1. Detailed plans of the town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
    2. Detailed plans of the remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
    3. Inventories of remaining traditional houses,
    4. Assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
    5. Current plans for further improvements and upgrade work on houses and access routes,
    6. Documentation on work carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription,
    7. A report on the current Master Plan for the city;
  14. Also requests that the State Party develop, in consultation with ICOMOS, detailed and specific indicators for the attributes of OUV for the entire property in order to assess the impact on authenticity and integrity in relation to these indicators, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  15. Also recommends the State Party to develop a holistic interpretation strategy for the property in order to communicate the historic development of the urban fabric and allow residents and visitors to establish a connection between the preserved elements of the property and its original structure and appearance;
  16. Urges the State Party to address recommendations of the World Heritage Committee as well as those of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission, notably regarding protection, management and tile decay on the façade of Ak-Saray Palace;
  17. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering retaining the property on the World Heritage List;
  18. Requests furthermore the State Party to invite as soon as possible a high-level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to discuss with the relevant Uzbek authorities and stakeholders possible mitigation of the impacts to the attributes that convey the property’s OUV and/or possible major boundary modification to the property;
  19. Decides to retain the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  20. Finally notes that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stand ready to provide capacity-building assistance to the State Party at the national level, notably regarding the implementation of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, the process for Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with the ICOMOS Guidelines, and other important aspects of heritage management and conservation, and strongly encourages the State Party to use this opportunity as a means of strengthening management and conservation at other urban World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan.

Decision Adopted: 42 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/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: