1.         Hatra (Iraq) (C 277rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)(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

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet established

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 3,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted (for all World Heritage Sites of Iraq):

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 11 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/documents. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:

The State Party also requests that the World Heritage Committee dispatch missions to develop centralized damage reports for its World Heritage properties.

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

The lack of complete and detailed information on the state of conservation of the property continues to be a very grave concern.

The return of staff to the property is welcomed, as is the Ninawa Antiquities and Heritage Inspectorate’s initial assessment that the property has not been as severely damaged as initially feared. Nevertheless, the reported vandalism by extremist groups is disturbing. Protection measures need to be taken to prevent any further damage to the property, or looting. It is recommended that the Committee encourage again the State Party to prevent further damage to the property and looting, and to address priority actions, as outlined in the Response Plan for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq (2017-2019), which reflects the recommendations of the International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq (UNESCO, February 2017), with the support of UNESCO and the international community.

It may be useful to remind the State Party that protection and emergency stabilization work should be undertaken only in cases where collapse or further damage is imminent, and according to the principle of minimal intervention.

It is also recommended that, when security conditions permit, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission be sent to further assess the damage and to discuss with the State Party’s authorities the short-, medium- and long-term goals and actions required to protect the property from further damage and looting, as well as to develop a more complete and detailed damage assessment in support of a comprehensive project for the conservation and restoration of the property.



21.     General Decision on the World Heritage properties of Iraq

Current conservation issues

The conflict between 2014 and 2017 has led to a massive humanitarian crisis and resulted in significant damage to Iraq’s cultural heritage through deliberate destruction, illegal excavation and looting, as well as collateral damage. Three of Iraq's World Heritage sites have suffered as a result of this conflict, namely Samarra Archaeological City, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) and Hatra. In addition, the archaeological sites of Nimrud and the Ancient City of Nineveh, which are on Iraq’s Tentative List, have also been greatly damaged through acts of deliberate destruction. In the Old City of Mosul, included in the Tentative List since August 2018, significant sites, monuments and buildings have been systematically targeted, including historical and religious heritage sites such as al-Nouri Mosque and its iconic al-Hadba Minaret.

On 11 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/43com/documents/#state_of_conservation_reports. The report provides an overview of damages to the three properties, Samarra Archaeological City, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) and Hatra. It also mentions efforts and challenges faced in the recovery of destroyed sites and in the restitution of cultural property. Challenges are related primarily to insufficient funding and the fragile security situation; no physical interventions have yet taken place.

The State Party is of the opinion that conservation interventions can now be considered, due to the current encouraging security situation. The State Party requests that missions be undertaken to conduct damage assessments and conservation works.

Activities undertaken by UNESCO

Activities undertaken by the Advisory Bodies

Representatives of ICOMOS participated in meetings concerning Mosul and provided advice for the Najaf Charter for the Conservation, Restoration and Rehabilitation of Historic Cities, Urban Areas and Historic – Heritage Monuments that aims to preserve the heritage of Najaf and all other Iraqi cities.


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


The conflict situation in Iraq has directly affected three of its properties that are currently on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and some of its Tentative List properties in varying degrees. Due to the unstable security situation in several parts of the country and the very limited resources, Iraq’s other World Heritage and Tentative List properties have been indirectly affected. In addition, the illegal excavation and looting of archeological sites has caused extensive loss and irreversible damage – although there have been several incidents of restitution of cultural property during the past years.

Since the liberation of vast areas of the country in 2017, Iraq has been facing the challenges of recovery while addressing the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This is particularly evident at the Old City of Mosul, where UNESCO is currently engaged within the framework of its flagship initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”.

During the conference held in April 2019 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the representative of Iraq indicated his country’s intention to ratify the Second Protocol, which is a commendable step that would contribute to the enhanced protection of cultural heritage.

On the other hand, the lack of detailed damage assessments for the three World Heritage properties that are on the List of World Heritage in Danger remains a concern. In 2016, the UNESCO Office for Iraq, in collaboration with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), had carried out documentation and damage assessment of specific monuments at the property of Samarra Archaeological City, as well as preliminarily assessments at Nimrud and the Ancient City of Nineveh, which are on the Tentative List.

Nevertheless, detailed damage assessments are necessary to evaluate the situation and to plan for stabilization and conservation works before interventions can take place. It is also necessary to evaluate potential risks other than those specifically related to conflict, such as those concerning natural deterioration and potential flooding, and, to plan for the properties’ longer-term recovery and management.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit documentation on all damage incurred at World Heritage properties, and to undertake protection and urgent stabilization work only in cases where collapse or further damage is imminent, according to the principle of minimal intervention. Elements found at the property, and resulting from conflict-related damages, should be retrieved and gathered in a safe location. Boundaries of properties should be protected from illegal excavations and looting.

It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to revisit the Response Plan for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq (2017-2019), which reflects the recommendations of the International Coordination Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq, with the objective of finding the way forward to start implementing the priority actions and to secure the needed resources as urgently as possible.

It is further recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to inform it, through the World Heritage Centre, about any future plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse.

The Committee may wish to reiterate its appeal to Member States to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property coming from Iraq and to contribute towards the safeguarding of its cultural heritage.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7A.19

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.19, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Notes with appreciation the State Party’s efforts to keep the World Heritage Centre informed about the situation on the ground, but notes however with concern the continuing lack of complete and detailed information on the state of conservation of the property;
  4. Encourages again the State Party to prevent further damage to the property and looting, and to address priority actions as outlined in the Response Plan e Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq (2017-2019), with the support of UNESCO and the international community;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, once security conditions permit, to further assess the damage and to discuss with State Party authorities the short-, medium- and long-term goals and actions required to protect the property;
  6. Reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Iraq as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 of February 2015, 2253 of December 2015 and 2347 of March 2017;
  7. Calls again on all Member States of UNESCO to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020;
  9. Decides to retain Hatra (Iraq) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7A.21

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Taking note of the report provided by the State Party regarding the state of conservation of the properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger, expresses its concern about the lack of comprehensive and detailed assessment of the properties affected by the conflict and about the limited resources available for the safeguarding of affected cultural heritage;
  3. Expresses its appreciation to the Director-General of UNESCO for the progress made towards safeguarding of cultural heritage in the Old City of Mosul, and for the expertise and resources mobilized so far within UNESCO’s “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” flagship initiative;
  4. Requests the State Party to submit updated documentation of damage incurred at World Heritage properties, to safeguard damaged properties according to the principle of minimal intervention, and to refrain from undertaking conservation and restoration work until comprehensive conservation plans have been developed, in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Also requests the State Party to revisit and address the priority actions outlined in the Response Plan for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq (2017-2019), with the support of UNESCO and the international community;
  6. Reminds the State Party about the need to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, information on any future plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
  7. Reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Iraq as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 of February 2015, 2253 of December 2015 and 2347 of March 2017, and encourages the State Party to ratify the Second Protocol (1999) to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict;
  8. Calls again on all Member States of UNESCO to provide technical and financial support to safeguarding efforts for Iraq’s cultural heritage, including through the “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” flagship initiative, in order to implement short-, medium- and long-term measures;
  9. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to present at its 44th session in 2020 a report on the activities undertaken within the framework of the “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” flagship initiative;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the properties and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.

Decision Adopted: 43 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/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: