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World Heritage Convention

Decision 23 BUR IV.A.12
Angkor (Cambodia)

The Bureau, having examined the state of conservation report of the site and upon considering the additional information provided by the Director of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and members of the Bureau, commended the exemplary work being carried out by the Authority for the Protection of the Site and Development of the Region of Angkor (APSARA) and the International Co-ordination Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Area of Angkor (ICC). 

The Bureau noted that some one hundred on-going projects are being implemented by more than a dozen countries and agencies, including large scale infrastructural projects such as road and bridge constructions, airport extension and public utilities upgrading of The World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and other bilateral and multilateral financial and development co-operation agencies, as well as privately-funded projects, notably for the construction of tourism facilities.  To ensure that such works, necessary for the socio-economic welfare of the population, do not undermine the World Heritage values of the site, the Bureau requested the strengthening of international co-ordination efforts by APSARA and ICC to review all public and private works affecting the site in addition to the monumental conservation projects.  Recalling paragraph 56 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the Bureau invited the State Party to inform the Committee, through the Secretariat, of major restorations or new constructions which they intend to undertake or to authorize which may affect the World Heritage values of the site, before the drafting of basic documents of the specific projects and before granting authorization.

As a management tool to record and monitor the various development works, the Delegate of Hungary stressed the need to update the Geographical Information System (GIS) of Angkor developed in 1993, and to make this consolidated data available to all concerned parties.

Concerning the conservation projects, the Bureau, while expressing its appreciation for the high quality of the standards applied in the on-going projects, stressed the necessity to ensure the transfer of knowledge and skills to the national and local experts through training.  In this regard, ICCROM, recognized by the Committee as the principal partner for training in cultural heritage conservation, reiterated its readiness to evaluate the training aspects of the on-going projects and to improve, as appropriate, the effectiveness of such endeavours.

The Bureau, furthermore expressed its deep concern over the alarming reports on the continued looting and illicit traffic of cultural properties in Angkor and other cultural sites on the Tentative List of Cambodia. Referring to the report presented by the Secretariat on this matter and stating that although his country is not yet a signatory to the 1970 Convention, the Observer of Thailand expressed his satisfaction with the measures taken by the Thai authorities, following the seizure by the Thai police of more than one hundred objects from a temple in Cambodia. Recalling the request of the Committee at its twenty-first session for the recording and documentation of these sites, the Bureau called upon the Secretariat to strengthen support to the State Party in this regard. The Bureau also urged the State Party to take further action to enhance the protection of the site against looting and the national frontiers against illicit export of cultural properties and requested the signatories of the 1970 Convention to take all measures possible to prevent the importation and sales of Khmer cultural objects of uncertain provenance.

The Bureau requested the State Party to prepare an updated state of conservation report with the support of the UNESCO Office in Phnom Penh and the Division of Cultural Heritage of UNESCO of the actions being undertaken in addressing the concerns expressed above. The Bureau invited the Chairperson of the Committee to write to the Co-chairpersons of the ICC requesting them to also assist the State Party in the preparation of this report.  This report should include information concerning the on-going and planned major public and private works in the region of Angkor, as well as the status of measures being undertaken at the national and local levels to control looting and illicit traffic of cultural properties from Angkor and other sites on the Tentative List of Cambodia. The Bureau requested that this report be provided to the Secretariat by 15 September 1999 for examination by the Committee at its twenty-third session.

Decision Code
23 BUR IV.A.12
States Parties 1
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
1999 Angkor
Context of Decision