Note: The Secretariat was informed by the Legal Advisor that “The UNESCO Secretariat follows the practice of the United Nations, which considers that the Security Council Resolution 12.44 (1999) continues to be applicable to the territory of Kosovo until a final settlement be achieved”.
The World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) acknowledged the continuing difficulties to monitor the property and the challenges to the follow-up to the intersectoral mission of January 2007 and recalled its request, in cooperation with UNESCO programmes, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Institutions of Kosovo, as well as future European arrangements, to continue to take long-term corrective measures, including: ensuring adequate long-term legislative, regulatory protection and management of the property and strong protective regimes for the buffer zones, adequately delineated boundaries and the timely implementation of the management plan.
Following the discussion on these issues at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee (Quebec City, 2008) and as suggested by the Chairperson in her conclusions, the World Heritage Centre addressed a request for clarification to the Legal Advisor of UNESCO about the international “legal framework” of this matter. A Circular Letter dated 31 March 2009 entitled “Final Decision 32 COM 7A.27 concerning the “Medieval Monuments in Kosovo” was sent to all States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and to the Advisory Bodies including the finalized decision.
a) Statement of Outstanding Universal Value/Significance
Concerning the development, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, of a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value/Significance including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009, the draft statement which was received in 2008 was reviewed by ICOMOS International and is being presented in Working Document WHC-09/33.COM/8E for examination.
b) Update on the state of conservation and international cooperation
An update report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the Permanent Delegation of Serbia on 30 January 2009, which indicated that the last monitoring at Decani Monastery took place on 17 January 2009, which noted that the monastery church is in good condition. However some deterioration at the facades has been noticed due to the lack of drainage and water gutter systems. It mentioned also the “boiler room” located in the buffer zones where structures were built. Concerning Gracanica Monastery the monitoring was carried out on 18 January 2009, it was noted that it was in a good condition with similar water effects on the lower walls. Several structures were built in the buffer zones, including residential wings, a new bell tower, a boiler room and garage. The threatened facade sculptures and wall painting are subject to conservation works carried out in stages and with NGO support. A workplan is suggested which includes the survey of the monastery complex, assessing priorities for projects, performing the works and monitoring and evaluation. In addition systematic excavation investigations should be performed. Concerning the Church of the Virgin of Ljevisa in Prizren, the structure is in good condition and the roofs and domes were covered in 2008 with lead metal plate. The Facades of the Patriarchate of Pec were restored in 2008 in accordance with the 2006 project.
As a follow up to the International Donors Conference (May 2005) and the 2007 Intersectorial mission and at the request of the Director General of UNESCO, the UNESCO Venice Office (BRESCE), in cooperation with UNMIK, organized an international expert mission to Kosovo from 19 to 22 January 2009.
The mission had the opportunity to update the information about the situation of the serial World Heritage property in Kosovo and visited the following parts of the property:
- Gracanica: The mission noted changes since the last mission at the monuments including certain construction activities in the compound of the Monastery. The technical experts notified some damages on the frescos surveyed and a more detailed report is about to be elaborated. The restoration of the frescos of the monastery may be proposed for financing through the contribution which the Russian Federation announced to the Director General of UNESCO;
- Decani: Special attention should be paid to the proposal of the Monastery authorities related to the re-construction of the dormitory that was burned down in 1946, as the plan proposed is not being cleared by the Institute for Protection of Monuments from Belgrade. In the case of further attempts related to the construction of this building an ICOMOS expert mission could be sent to review the plans and proposed solutions;
- Pec: The mission noted that the facade of the three churches was recently repainted in dark red color. No information on this development was received by the World Heritage Centre in compliance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Church of Bogorodica Ljeviska, Prizren: No changes have been noted by the mission since the last mission in July 2008. Although the keys of the completed monument were supposed to be handed to the Church representatives, this has not happened. At the moment UNESCO; is organizing the activities related to the restoration of the wall paintings; it is important to underline that the project should also include restoration of some external elements. Further works on the wall paintings could not be initiated prior to being sure that the architectural works are correctly performed and that no frescos could be endangered any more by atmospheric influences.
The mission noted that both the Director of the Center of Monuments from Serbia and the Director of Cultural Heritage in Kosovo did cooperate with the mission team.
In addition, the Assistant Director General for Culture and Chief Europe and North America of the World Heritage Centre met with the staff concerned with Kosovo at the European Commission Offices in Brussels (EC – DG Enlargement) on 3 April 2009. Cooperation opportunities related to the Forum for Technical Information Exchange on Cultural Heritage in Kosovo were discussed. Launched on 28 January 2009, the Forum is open to all relevant technical stakeholders with the common objective of preserving and promoting cultural heritage. Its main purpose is to facilitate information exchange in view of a coordinated approach of the cultural heritage in Kosovo, including with UNMIK and UN Habitat. The Forum is not a decision making body. The European Commission emphasized UNESCO’s unique expertise in the field of cultural heritage and requested the participation of UNESCO at the technical level.
c) Reinforced monitoring mechanism
The entire mission of January 2009 concluded that the monitoring of the World Heritage property in Kosovo has to be reinforced. Due to the complex situation of the protection of heritage in Kosovo, underlining that the Church is the owner of this heritage, but considering the real will of all the parties to support and improve their efforts to protect World Heritage in Kosovo and the evolution of the cooperation among the managers of heritage, more frequent reporting could be developed as an intermediate solution.
On 29 October 2008 the Republic of Serbia wrote to the Director General of UNESCO and requested to “approve reinforced monitoring of the “medieval monuments in Kosovo ”in order to ensure timely implementation of the World Heritage Committee’s decisions relating of these monuments in danger”.
Following the January 2009 mission and the finalization of the Decision of the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee and its transmission to all State Parties on 31 March 2009, the Director General of UNESCO decided to activate the Reinforced monitoring mechanism carefully considering the specific circumstances of this property.