State of Conservation
Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
- Commercial development
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Other Threats:
Risk of collapse of the Giant Buddha niches; Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Commercial development, Housing (Development pressure around the property and in the buffer zone)
- Ground transport infrastructure
- Others (Risk of collapse of the Giant Buddha niches; Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings)
- Looting, illicit traffic and illegal excavations of cultural heritage assets (issue resolved)
- Military Training (Continued inappropriate use of certain heritage areas for military posts) (issue resolved)
- Anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordinances (i.e. munitions) (issue resolved)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
Site security not ensured
Long-term stability of the Giant Buddha niches not ensured
State of conservation of archaeological remains and mural paintings not adequate
Management Plan and Cultural Master Plan (the protective zoning plan) not implemented
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 for the property
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1287
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1593
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019
Total amount granted: USD 7,324,120 (2003-2018) from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust; USD 159,000 (2011-2012) from the UNESCO/Switzerland Funds-in-Trust; USD 6,845,121 (2013-2021) from the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust; USD 7,336,166 (2013-2019) from UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in Trust; USD 1,500,000 (2017-2026) from the Government of Afghanistan
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 1
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
|2002||Training for national and local authorities in the ... (Approved)||30,000 USD|
Missions to the property until 2019**
November 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICCROM Advisory mission; April 2011: UNESCO Kabul/ICOMOS Advisory mission; May 2014: ICOMOS technical Advisory mission; UNESCO expert missions in the context of the implementation of specific projects
|2011||Report on the Advisory Mission to the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley ...|
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
On 9 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents, which provides the following information:
- In 2018, the State Party implemented preliminary consolidation work for parts of the Western Buddha niche (qhol ghoza). Consolidation of 8 other sites, including Foladi Valley, was postponed to 2019. The Délégation archéologique française en Afghanistan (DAFA) and national experts excavated some part of Shahr-i-Gholghola, within the framework of UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust (FiT) project. A treatment plan is being developed to address erosion at the site and at some important mud brick buildings, which are gradually collapsing; this plan will also aim to ensure safer access and provide information points for the public;
- On 1-3 October 2018, the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) and UNESCO conveyed a workshop on the Management Plan with government stakeholders, supported by the UNESCO/Japan FiT, to harmonize the Management Plan with the Cultural Master Plan and the recently completed Strategic Master Plan (SMP) for Bamiyan. An action plan for the establishment of the Management Plan is under preparation. The increasing role of the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing was mentioned in view of the proposed extension of the boundaries of the property. The SMP was developed with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and Florence University, and the State Party indicates that it has been endorsed by the President of Afghanistan;
- On 3-5 December 2018, the International Technical Meeting on the future of the Bamiyan World Heritage property was held in Salalah, Oman, co-organized by UNESCO and MoIC with the support of Japan, the German University of Technology (GUtech) of Muscat and its Research Centre Indian Ocean, the office of the Adviser for Cultural Affairs to His Majesty the Sultan, and ICOMOS Oman. The meeting issued a set of recommendations, which defined necessary actions for a better coordination and governance in the management of the property. A decision and action plan concerning the future treatment of the Bamiyan Buddha statues and niches, created by a national technical working committee, were also mentioned ;
- Funding from Italy allowed the deployment of several guards at Shahr-i-Gholghola. Twenty police officers were appointed by the Ministry of Interior Affairs to monitor and safeguard the component sites within the Bamiyan Valley;
- Several workshops on heritage management were organized in Bamiyan in 2018 to engage local communities in the management of their heritage;
- Funded via the UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust, the Cultural Creative Hub in Bamiyan (Bamiyan Cultural Centre) is scheduled to be completed in late 2019;
- The State Party acknowledges the lack of financial resources to implement conservation activities at each of the component sites simultaneously and requires continued assistance from the international community;
- The State Party also considers large-scale development and its multifaceted impacts as one of the greatest challenges for the conservation of the property.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019
The recent progress with consultations on the Management Plan and its harmonization with other management tools is welcomed. The recommendations of the International Technical Meeting on the future of the property are noted, yet progress must be made first on the following points:
- The SMP for Bamiyan needs to be officially submitted by the State Party for review by the Advisory Bodies. In particular, a traffic plan component and a proposed bypass road included in this Plan require further technical, geological and economic feasibility studies, including Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments (EIAs/HIAs), in accordance with the national regulations and the ICOMOS and IUCN guidelines;
- The use of GIS-based cultural mapping and zoning information, such as the one prepared for the Cultural Master Plan, is recommended for the future development of planning tools in Bamiyan; for example, the map used in the Nomination dossier for the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List in 2003 needs to be revised;
- Closer collaboration between stakeholders is necessary in order to ensure a coordinated effort to preserve the property and address various development issues;
- Effective regulating mechanisms to address population growth and industrial development in the vicinity of the property remain vital, although the State Party’s report did not allow to evaluate progress on this point.
It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request that the State Party proceed with a boundary modification and revise its national legislation in order to enhance the permanent protection of heritage resources, notably the cultural landscape in the Bamiyan Valley that currently is not within protected zones.
It is suggested that the Committee strongly recommend the submission of all decisions adopted, as well as the Action Plan for the future treatment of the Buddha statues and niches, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, once the National Working Committee’s decision has been endorsed by the authorities. These decisions should bear in mind the outcomes of the September 2017 meeting held in Tokyo, Japan, which highlighted the need for further studies on any possible reconstruction, yet made no specific or final recommendation on the future treatment of the Bamiyan Buddha niches and/or statues, considering that “extensive consultation [should] be conducted by the local and national government with local communities, civil society, as well as spiritual leaders so as to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests are taken into consideration”.
One of the greatest concerns remains the shortage of resources for preservation, in particular the lack of additional budgets to continue the stabilization of the Western Buddha niche and to conduct other much-needed conservation activities for component sites under serious threat of collapse, and which would be necessary to achieve the adopted Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).
The permanent deployment of on-site guards for all components of the property remains vital. As almost all significant activities for the property have been realized through international assistance, and while the existing financial constraints should not be underestimated, it is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to prepare a long-term strategy to ensure that the necessary resources for the most important operations are continuously available.
Although, regrettably, no information was provided on the Bamiyan Cultural Centre, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and repeated requests from the World Heritage Centre and the Committee (see Decisions 38 COM 7A.15, 39 COM 7A.39 and 41 COM 7A.54), the soon-to-be-completed building could also serve as an enhanced interpretation centre for the World Heritage property, providing information on the property’s tangible, and associative values.
Finally, the Committee may note with regret that a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures was not presented.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.41
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
- Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.1, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
- Notes the initiatives taken by the State Party and international partners towards the conservation of important component parts of this serial property;
- Welcomes the establishment and regular meetings of the National Working Committee tasked with reviewing proposals for the Bamiyan Buddha statues and, also recalling the outcomes of the September 2017 International Symposium held in Tokyo, Japan, on the future of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, requests that the State Party submit any adopted decision and Action Plan for the future treatment of the Bamiyan Buddha niches and statues to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Also welcomes the progress made with the establishment of the Management Plan and its harmonization with other management tools, in particular the Strategic Master Plan (SMP), endorsed by the President of Afghanistan, and also requests the State Party to:
- Maintain close consultations with all stakeholders to ensure an integrated approach towards heritage preservation in relation with the urban development and other, broader development initiatives;
- Submit the SMP to the World Heritage Centre for review of the Advisory Bodies, and;
- Submit to the World Heritage Centre all necessary documentation concerning the traffic plan component and the bypass road included in the SMP, which require further technical, geological and economic feasibility studies, including Environmental and Heritage Impact Assessments in accordance with the national regulations and the ICOMOS and IUCN Guidelines;
- Further requests the State Party to use the GIS-based cultural mapping and zoning information, as was done in the Cultural Master Plan, for future development of planning tools in Bamiyan;
- Further welcomes the recommendations of the International Technical Meeting on the future of the Bamiyan World Heritage property (Salalah, Oman, 3-5 December 2018);
- Notes with regret however that the State Party did not provide a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008);
- Regrets the absence of progress with the development of effective regulating mechanisms to address future population growth and industrial development in the vicinity of the property, and reiterates its request to the State Party to proceed with a boundary modification, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines, and revise national legislation in order to enhance the permanent protection of heritage resources, and notably the cultural landscape in the Bamiyan Valley that is currently not within protected zones, along with its setting;
- Notes with great concern that work to stabilize the Western Buddha niche has been pending and calls upon the international community to provide technical and financial support for the conservation of component sites that are threatening to collapse, in order to assist the State Party in achieving the adopted Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
- Also notes that security personnel is currently funded through international cooperation and strongly urges the State Party to identify and use national financial resources to allocate security staff to all components of the property on a permanent basis;
- Further notes that most significant technical activities for the property have been realized through international assistance mechanisms, and strongly encourages the State Party to prepare a long-term strategy to sustainably secure resources for the most important operations, and to coordinate international cooperation funds to help carry out high-priority actions;
- Reiterates its deep regret that irreversible decisions concerning the Bamiyan Cultural Centre and Museum were taken without informing the Committee, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and its repeated prior requests, and that construction progressed without the preparation and submission of a Heritage Impact Assessment for review by the Advisory Bodies, and recommends that the State Party carefully plan the Cultural Centre’s content by harnessing the opportunity for visitors to learn not only about the region’s cultural values, but also about the World Heritage property wherein the Cultural Centre is located;
- Finally 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;
- Decides to retain Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).