Historic Centre of Bukhara (Uzbekistan) (C 602bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1993
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/602/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 100,960
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/602/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided: 2016: USD 30,670 from the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust project for the Application of the UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban landscape (HUL, 2011) at the World Heritage properties ‘Historic Centre of Bukhara’ and ‘Samarkand – Crossroads of Cultures’
Previous monitoring missions
1998: ICOMOS Reactive Assessment mission; October 2010: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2018: ICOMOS Advisory Mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Recent hotel constructions which would negatively affect the integrity of the property (issue resolved)
- Heavy traffic, pollution and poor sewege system (issue resolved)
- Managements systems/Management Plan (Lack of a proper conservation and management plan; Lack of guidelines for rehabilitation of housing)
- Management activities (Lack of coordination with regard to the conservation and restoration activities carried out as part of the State Programme; Lack of on-going routine maintenance and varying state of conservation of monuments)
- Housing, Development (Use of new building material and methods, inappropriate restoration and reconstruction methods; Utilities or Service Infrastructure)
- Ground Transport Infrastructure (Roads)
- Archaeological excavation and rebuilding on the Shakhristan Market site
- Others: Degradation of traditional houses
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/602/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
An ICOMOS Advisory mission visited the property in April 2018. Subsequently, the State Party submitted state of conservation reports on 1 December 2018 and 3 January 2019. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/602/documents/ and highlight the State Party’s following actions:
- The Cabinet Resolution of 9 July 2018 aligns the national conservation policy with the World Heritage Convention;
- An Interagency Task Force was created to address emerging issues at the property;
- A roadmap has been developed to address the conservation of the property;
- A moratorium has been placed on all construction work and upgrades to the property until management documents have been drafted and reviewed;
- A consultant has been engaged to develop a City Master Plan, including a Detailed Planning Draft that covers the period until 2022, taking into account the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
- The Cabinet passed Resolution No. 435, which grants the property the status of ‘specially protected area’. This resolution also expressed the need to develop appropriate guidelines and regulations for the property, including conservation, management and tourism regulations.
At the local level, the Bukhara municipal authorities have created a World Heritage Property Steering Committee, tasked with implementing the Management Plan using a system of protective zones. The State Party included the document ‘Maintaining and Use of Protected Zones Regime, 2018’ as an annex to its report, which outlines protection zones in the city and presents general provisions, which will inform the Master Plan for the property, currently under development. It is planned that these zones will be integrated into the cadastre. The Protected Zones Regime was subject to an ICOMOS Technical Review.
The Inspectorate for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage, as the body mandated to manage the property, has carried out the following tasks:
- Set up a process of local and community stakeholder consultation;
- Started an investigation into appropriate techniques and materials required for restoration projects, and established a research laboratory for this purpose;
- Established an inventory to define the site boundaries and demarcated the property boundaries with signage;
- Revised and updated the Management Plan and obtained approval from the Cabinet of Ministers;
- Commissioned archaeological investigations in the new Shakhristan market area.
The State Party has entered into an agreement with the UNESCO International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS), which will act as the coordinating authority for Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) for all projects planned within the property. These HIAs will also be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. The Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS High-Level mission to Shakhrisyabz in January 2019 also visited Bukhara, where they organized a training session and met with officials.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The protection, management and maintenance of the authenticity and integrity of the Historic City of Bukhara have been a source of great concern since 1997 (see WHC.97/CONF.208/04B and WHC.97/CONF.208/08B). The April 2018 ICOMOS Advisory mission reported recent widespread damage and destruction of attributes of the property’s OUV as a direct result of the Project of Detailed Planning of the Historical Centre of Bukhara Development (PDP), which is based on a national decree to stimulate tourism development in the property and its region. The PDP has improved living conditions through the installation of civic services and includes large-scale construction, restoration, and infrastructural development; however, it has also led to the collapse of sections of important monuments, to a widening of streets, and to changes in the property’s urban topography, potentially destroying archaeological attributes. The PDP was not assessed through an HIA, and the projects it foresees were not communicated to the World Heritage Centre before implementation began. The 2018 Advisory mission noted that the continued implementation of the PDP could have serious, irreversible negative impacts on the OUV of the property, as could reconstruction activities at damaged monuments utilising inappropriate methods and materials.
The 2018 mission concluded that the management and planning systems for the property are inadequate and suffer from a lack of human resources. The Committee may therefore urge the State Party to adopt urgent legal and institutional measures to control urban development. The mission also reported that, although an Integrated Management Plan for the property was completed in 2017, it has not yet been submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies or legally adopted.
It is a source of great concern that the Master Plan has been adopted without being reviewed by the Advisory Bodies, and the Committee may wish to request that the State Party submit the Master Plan as soon as possible. The development of appropriate conservation and restoration guidelines and the provision of a thorough legal framework for the protection of the property’s OUV remains an urgent priority. It is also important that the Management Plan for the property be integrated with the Master Plan in line with the approach of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape.
Additionally, while the reported stakeholder consultation process is very welcome, its effectiveness requires verification. Prior to holding architectural design competitions for new projects or commencing any new development project or major restoration works, detailed proposals should be sent to the World Heritage Centre for review, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
The State Party’s decision to adopt Cabinet resolutions for the protection of the property, impose a moratorium on construction and development within the property, and establish a restoration laboratory is welcomed. However, it remains unclear whether the moratorium covers both the property and its buffer zone, and it is crucial to continue observing this moratorium until appropriate management systems, conservation and development guidelines and HIA processes are in place and proven to be effective. The relationship between the newly established World Heritage Property Steering Committee, the Inspectorate for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage and Interagency Task Team remains to be clarified.
The Protected Zones Regime is welcomed, but as highlighted in the ICOMOS technical review, it is not aligned with the terminology of the World Heritage Convention, and it remains unclear whether the zones correspond to the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone. This document needs to be revised, submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies, and registered in the cadastre.
More information is required regarding the scale, scope and mandate of the State Party’s Interagency Task Force and on the conservation roadmap. Due to the reported negative impacts of recent developments on the property’s OUV, and in view of the challenges faced in managing the property and its OUV, it is recommended that the Interagency Task Force’s mandate include overseeing the development of an appropriate legal and management system and of conservation and development policies and guidelines. It is further recommended that a Reactive Monitoring mission visit the property, with a view to considering the full scope of the projects, both planned and underway, and to reviewing the factors that constitute a threat to the property and considering whether there is an ascertained or potential danger to the OUV of the property.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.78
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.99, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Welcomes the reported moratorium on all construction work and on upgrades to the property and urges the State Party to adopt urgent legal and institutional measures to control development;
- Also welcomes the establishment of the World Heritage Property Steering Committee and the establishment of an Interagency Task Force to address emerging issues at the property, but requests that more details be provided on the scale, scope and mandate of the Task Force;
- Notes with grave concern the conclusions and recommendations of the April 2018 ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property, including the reported destruction of attributes of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as a result of the implementation of the Project of Detailed Planning of Historical Centre of Bukhara Development (PDP), which is based on a national decree to stimulate tourism development in the property and its region;
- Takes note of the reported completion of the Integrated Management Plan and the Master Plan for the property, along with a system of protective zones for the property and its buffer zone, but expresses its concern that the Integrated Management Plan has not yet been submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies, despite earlier requests; that the Master Plan, although reportedly revised and updated, has been adopted without being submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies; and that the system of protective zones needs to be improved with regard to both its terminology and application;
- Also requests that:
- The moratorium on all construction work and upgrades to the property be extended to include the buffer zone of the property,
- The Integrated Management Plan be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its legal adoption,
- The Master Plan be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as possible and before any further decision is made that would be difficult to reverse;
- Once both the Management Plan and the Master Plan have been reviewed, the Management Plan be integrated with the Master Plan, in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape;
- The moratorium be enforced until both the Master Plan and the Management Plan have been reviewed by the Advisory Bodies, and adequate management systems, conservation, Heritage Impact Assessments and development policies and protocols are in place and pilot projects have proven their effectiveness,
- Prior to holding architectural design competitions for new projects, commissioning, or commencing any new development project or major restoration works, detailed proposals should be sent to the World Heritage Centre, for review in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Further requests the State Party to stabilize the valuable structures damaged through the implementation of the PDP and to take protective measures until a set of appropriate protocols on restoration methods and materials have been developed and reviewed by the Advisory Bodies;
- Also notes with grave concern the management weaknesses, damages to the property and threats to its OUV reported in the 2018 ICOMOS Advisory mission report, which echo the Committee’s earlier concerns;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to expand its Interagency Task Force to include national and international expert advisors reporting directly to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan and to the World Heritage Centre for a defined period of minimum five years, and grant it a national-level mandate to:
- Fully assess the legal protection and management systems already in place for the property and its buffer zones and make recommendations for improvements,
- Assess and improve the roadmap to address the conservation of the property and oversee the implementation thereof after it is reviewed by the Advisory Bodies,
- Carry out an annual assessment of the state of conservation of the property,
- Monitor engagement with local and community stakeholders on the future of the property,
- Oversee the development of policies and guidelines for conservation and development which aim to preserve the property’s OUV,
- Assess and recommend improvements to Impact Assessment processes, the reassessment of the Integrated Management Plan, Master Plan and other development plans and decrees, as well as reporting to the World Heritage Centre in the framework of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines,
- Oversee the development and review of an appropriate and sustainable tourism development strategy and plan,
- Select and monitor the implementation of pilot projects to access the efficiency of the developed, assessed and reviewed plans, guidelines and policies,
- Monitor the moratorium on all construction work and upgrades to the property and its buffer zone and annually assess whether the moratorium could be lifted, provided that the management system and the various management, conservation and development plans have been proven to be efficient,
- Recommend the lifting of the moratorium on all construction work and upgrades in the property as well as its own dissolution once it is satisfied that the legal and management systems effectively protect the OUV of the property and its setting;
- Requests moreover the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in order to assess the full scope of the impacts already caused to the property and its OUV, the efficacy of the Interagency Task Force and other management systems, to review the overall state of conservation of the property and the factors that constitute a threat to the property and to consider whether there is an ascertained or potential danger to the OUV of the property;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, a report on the state of conservation of the property and on the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.