The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley was co-inscribed on the World Heritage List and World Heritage in Danger List in 2003 due to damage it sustained fromabandonment, military action and dynamite explosions. At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee had requested the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of outstanding universal value.
As of 23 April 2009, the State Party has not yet submitted to the World Heritage Centre a progress report on the state of conservation of the property, nor a draft Statement of outstanding universal value. However, information on the current state of conservation of the property is contained in two documents prepared by UNESCO in the framework of a Japanese funded “Project for the safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site”. These include a ’Progress Report on the Bamiyan 2008 Emergency activities Plan’ (16 October 2008) and the ‘2008 Implementation Status Report on the“Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site” project - Phase III’ (January 2009).
These reports indicate progress in implementing the corrective measures as follows:
a) Site security
From June 2008, through the Bamiyan phase III project, UNESCO has been providing support to the Ministry of Information and Culture, for the provision of security and surveillance at the property. This included overall protection for the sensitive archaeological areas, prevented illicit excavations and guarded expensive equipment left on site for planned activities in 2009. Six guards permanently monitor the property and carry out daily surveillance patrols, particularly in the area of the two Buddha niches and Shar-e-Gholgholah.
Activities in Bamiyan were initiated in September 2008 in cooperation with the United Nations Mine Action Centre in Afghanistan (UNMACA) and financed by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) with separate Japanese funding. The UNESCO Kabul office, together with one UNESCO architect-archaeologist expert, and in close collaboration with the Bamiyan Governor’s Office, the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture and the Office of the Bamiyan Chief of Police havemonitored the de-mining intervention in sensitive archaeological areas, and have documented damage done to archaeological sites or historical monuments and any archaeological objects discovered, disturbed or removed in the course of de-mining activities. They have also assisted UNMAS in prioritizing areas within the property for de-mining and ensured that UNMAS’s activities make as much allowance as possible for access by the public to archaeological sites such as Shar-e-Gholgholah, Shar-i Zohak and Dragon Valley. It is anticipated that de-mining activities will be completed by the end of 2009.
c) Long term stability of the Giant Buddha niches
UNESCO has contracted ICOMOS Germany to conduct a scientific analysis of the Buddhas niches surface fragments, with a view to their long-term preservation, and to carry out scientific tests for the consolidation of the back wall in the Small Buddha niche. With funding from the German Foreign Office, in 2008 the ICOMOS team rebuilt the partition walls in one of the caves blown up in 2001 and installed a scaffolding. These measures have created the requirements for the stabilization of the entire back wall of the Small Buddha niche. Furthermore, the ICOMOS team developed a differentiated method for the conservation of the wall with its sculptural remains and conserved the most important parts with original surface that are still in situ (right arm and sections of the robe). A scientific report with recommendations for the long-term conservation of the stone Buddha fragments and the stabilization of the Buddha niches has been produced for possible implementation in 2009.
d) Training of Afghan experts
Owing to the deterioration of the security situation in the country, which prevented the dispatching of international experts to the property in 2008, a ‘2008 Emergency Activities Plan for Bamiyan’ was developed jointly by UNESCO and the Afghan authorities. This Plan identifies the training programmes that could not be undertaken in Afghanistan and had to be held abroad. These included a six-month training programme (from late June to late December 2008) at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (NRICP) for two Afghan archaeologists. Two Afghan conservators from the Kabul National Museum were also trained in manuscript conservation (October–November 2008), through the practical conservation of about six hundred fragments of manuscripts excavated by the NRICP in Bamiyan in 2003. Moreover, a training workshop on heritage site management is under preparation together with the Aachen University, Germany, and is due to take place in Bamiyan in September 2009 (subject to appropriate security conditions), or alternatively in Aachen.
e) Cultural Master Plan
The cultural master plan was officially adopted in 2006. In 2008, the UNESCO Kabul Office participated in several inter-ministerial conferences in Bamiyan and Kabul, which were focused on sustainable policy development in Bamiyan, through the effective and integrated implementation of the cultural master plan’s guidelines and protective zones.
f) Development of the management plan
The development of a Management Plan for the World Heritage property is still in progress. Looting, illicit traffic and illegal excavations of cultural heritage assets are being addressed and progress is being made. However, due to the security situation within the country, it remains extremely difficult to ensure effective governance of the property.
g) UNESCO/ICOMOS Seventh Expert Working Group on the Preservation of Bamiyan
A meeting of the Expert Group for Bamiyan took place in June 2008 in Munich, with the participation of the Afghan authorities and experts, international experts and representatives of the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO Kabul Office. This enabled the coordination and harmonisation of ongoing activities by the various international teams working at the site, a review of the main conservation issues and the formulation of specific recommendations, available online from: http://whc.unesco.org/uploads/events/documents/event-563-1.pdf
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that, despite the lack of submission of a state of conservation report by the State Party, progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation has been made throughout 2008. However, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies also note that the draft Statement of outstanding universal value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and the management plan, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), are yet to be prepared and submitted to the World Heritage Centre. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will provide assistance to the State Party in preparing the Statement of outstanding universal value for the property in the framework of the upcoming periodic reporting exercise for the Asia Pacific region.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies acknowledge the continued technical and financial support and commitment to achieving the Desired state of conservation of Bamiyan of the international community.