X.42 Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)
The Secretariat, in reporting on the discussions during the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau and its recommendations, reminded the Committee that the Kathmandu Valley inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 is composed of seven Monument Zones. While these zones also contain builtup areas composed of traditional buildings, the boundaries of the protected areas were defined on the basis of a monumental vision, rather than with the objective of protecting a larger urban heritage. Thus, given the relatively limited number of traditional buildings in the World Heritage area, their protection is even more important in forming the essential setting within each Monument Zone. The Committee noted that in the case of Bauddhanath Monument Zone, there were approximately 88 historic buildings surrounding the stupa in 1979 that provided the setting, both physical and spiritual, of this important site of pilgrimage. In 1993 at the time of the UNESCO-ICOMOS Joint Mission, there remained 27, and despite concerted efforts in conserving the site with substantive support from the international community, only 15 remained in 1998.
During the discussions, the Committee noted that inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger has been deferred many times, in order to provide more time to apply conservation measures in accordance with the 16 Recommendations of 1993, and the 55 Recommendations and a Time-Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures of 1998, officially adopted by HMG of Nepal. The Committee, although noting that periodic reports, submitted either by the State Party or the World Heritage Centre, examined by each session of the Bureau and Committee since 1993, demonstrated the efforts being made by the State Party, it was obliged to note the deterioration of the site in its ensemble.
ICCROM congratulated the State Party for its continuing efforts to strengthen protection of the site over the last six years, but stated that it remained deeply concerned over the apparent and increasing loss of the authentic historic fabrics of the site, which it recalled, was the reason that prompted the 1993 UNESCOICOMOS Joint Mission to recommend inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Representative of ICCROM stated that if the Committee is to support the recommendation of the Bureau to send a High Level Mission, the mandate of the mission should focus on:
- clarifying to the authorities at the highest level, the purpose of inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
- defining more precisely the conditions to be met to warrant eventual inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in the Committee's deliberations in year 2000;
- giving further attention to measures which can address the root causes of the demolitions of the vernacular fabrics of the Monument Zones;
- giving attention to establishing base-line data for continuing documentation of the historic buildings.
The advice given by ICCROM was supported by the Delegate of Thailand. To mitigate the real danger threatening this site, the Delegate of Hungary underlined the importance of co-operation between States Parties for enhanced urban heritage management, and in this regard, invited Nepal to participate at the Integrated Urban Conservation Training Workshop and Seminar for Central European Historic City Managers which Hungary planned to organize in 2000.
The Committee underlined that, while it had deferred inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger until its next session, it recognized the serious loss of the authentic urban fabrics detected within the site over the past years. Several members of the Bureau had been willing to inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger right away, and it was only after a working group that the Bureau had deferred the inscription. It stressed that the gravity of the situation should not be underestimated. Moreover, the Committee underscored that inscription of a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger should not be considered as an exercise of black-listing sites, but understood to serve as a conservation tool and as part of a process to draw international technical assistance and to rally the necessary political will and public support at the national level in favour of conservation.
The Observer of HMG of Nepal expressed his Government's gratitude for the Committee's keen interest in the protection of the site, as well as for the professional assistance provided over the years by the advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre. He reported on the Government's efforts made in implementing the 55 Recommendations and the Time-Bound Action Plan for Corrective Measures adopted by HMG of Nepal, but stressed the difficulties faced by his Government in controlling damage in the Monument Zones. He therefore requested the Committee to consider prolonging the deadlines for implementing the Time- Bound Action Plan of Corrective Measures. The Observer informed the Committee that the Prime Minister, aware of the need for concerted national efforts beyond those being made by the Department of Archaeology, had instructed the relevant Ministries to take necessary action for enhancing the management of the site. The Observer stated that although Kathmandu Valley is a Nepalese World Heritage site, the responsibility to ensure its integrity and authenticity is also that of the international community at large and the Committee. Finally, he assured the Committee that the HMG of Nepal would welcome the High Level Mission, composed of the Chairperson of the Committee, the Director of the World Heritage Centre and international experts selected by ICOMOS.
The Committee, in conclusion, recalled the reports of the twenty-third ordinary and extraordinary session of the Bureau, and adopted the following:
"The Committee examined the state of conservation reports presented in WHC-99/CONF-209/INF.17A,B,C,D, and expressed deep concern over the serious degree of uncontrolled change and deterioration of the authenticity and integrity of the Monument Zones placed under the protection of the World Heritage Convention. It noted with appreciation that the State Party had made every effort to implement the 16 Recommendations of the 1993 UNESCO-ICOMOS Joint Mission, as well as the 55 Recommendations of the 1998 UNESCO-ICOMOS-HMG of Nepal Joint Mission and the Time- Bound Action Plan for Corrective Measures.
The Committee requested HMG of Nepal to continue making all possible efforts to protect the remaining authentic historic urban fabric within the Kathmandu Valley site. The Committee requested the Secretariat and the Advisory Bodies to continue to assist the State Party as appropriate and to the extent possible: in strengthening its capacity in controlling development, retaining historic buildings in-situ, and in correcting illegal construction and alteration of historic buildings within the Kathmandu Valley site.
The Committee decided to defer inscription of the Kathmandu Valley site on the List of World Heritage in Danger again, until the next session of the Committee.
Moreover, in view of the fact that the demolition and new construction or alterations of historic buildings within the Kathmandu Valley have persisted in spite of the concerted international and national efforts, resulting in the loss or continuous and gradual deterioration of materials, structure, ornamental features, and architectural coherence making the essential settings of the Monument Zones as well as in their authentic characters, the Committee requested a High Level Mission to be undertaken to hold discussions with representatives of HMG of Nepal in early 2000. This High Level Mission would be composed of the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee or a representative of the Committee members, a senior staff of the World Heritage Centre, and two eminent international experts selected by ICOMOS. The findings of the mission would be reported the next sessions of the Bureau and Committee, in 2000."