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Decision 43 COM 7B.35
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (Iraq) (C/N 1481)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.66, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the start of conservation work by international archaeological missions at the three cultural components of the property, Ur, Tell Eridu and Uruk, and, the comprehensive survey undertaken at Tell Eridu;
  4. Regrets that no progress has been reported on the development of site-specific conservation plans for the three cultural components of the property, as requested by the Committee in response to the significant threats they face related to instability, significant weathering, inappropriate previous interventions, and the lack of continuous maintenance;
  5. Urges the State Party to extend the comprehensive survey and mapping to all three cultural components of the property, as baseline data for future work, and to develop operational conservation plans for each as a matter of priority, and to submit these to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Appreciates that a study to establish the minimum water flow needed for the natural components of the property has been undertaken, but notes with deep concern that this minimum flow has not been met in the past two years, and reiterates its request to the State Party to provide the natural components of the property with adequate water within its national capacity as a matter of utmost priority;
  7. Strongly encourages again the States Parties of Iraq, Iran and Turkey to continue their efforts in cooperating towards long-term sustainable water management, so as to ensure the provision of adequate amounts of water for the natural components of the property to sustain their contribution to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  8. While appreciating that the State Party considers that World Heritage designation provides adequate legal protection to the property, also reiterates its request to the State Party to complete the designation of all of the natural components of the property as protected areas in order to provide effective protection under national legislative and management systems, as required in the Operational Guidelines,
  9. Reiterating its previous significant concern over the continued vulnerability of the natural components of the property to oil and gas developments, recalls the Committee’s established position that oil and gas exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status, and strongly urges again the State Party to make a permanent commitment to not explore or exploit oil and gas within the property, and to ensure that any such activities outside the property do not cause a negative impact on its OUV;
  10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre data concerning illegal bird hunting, overfishing, including the number of prosecutions and convictions from these illegal activities, and to further strengthen its legal protection, enforcement and management capacity to control these activities;
  11. Also urges the State Party to prepare an updated Integrated Management Plan for the entire property, and to promote the development of updated Management Plans for each of the components of the property;
  12. Also welcomes the measures taken to ensure tourism activities do not damage the property, and further reiterates its request to the State Party to develop and implement an overall tourism plan for the whole property, to regulate visitation, and to ensure visitor safety, and sustainable and adequate tourism practices, infrastructure and facilities;
  13. Also requests the State Party to continue to meaningfully engage with the local communities on matters concerning water usage, rights-based approaches to management and for the application of traditional ecological knowledge to any planned new constructions;
  14. Also regrets that the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property could not be undertaken yet, and reiterates furthermore its request that the mission takes place as soon as possible;
  15. Reminds the State Party about the need to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, information on any future plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the OUV of the property, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
  16. 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.
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision