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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 7A.42
Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 20bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 44 COM 7A.20 and 44 COM 7A.24 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Taking into account Decision 45 COM 7A.46 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic,
  4. Takes note of the restoration works carried out at the property, including major repair to the ancient city wall between Bab Touma and Bab al-Salam supported by the World Heritage Fund, and the adaptation of the Khan Suleiman Pasha to become a five-star hotel, and requests the State Party to submit further information about this project for review by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, and reminds the State Party to submit information on any proposal that may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies before making any decision that would be difficult to reverse and before any further works commence, along with Heritage Impact Assessments, in conformity with paragraphs 118bis and 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Welcomes the work undertaken on infrastructure improvement, the provision of equipment and the response mechanisms in place to ensure efficiency in mitigating risks linked to electricity and sewage infrastructure in priority areas, and encourages the State Party to continue implementing the risk mitigation strategy;
  6. Also welcomes the opening of the educational centre for traditional crafts, the organization of training workshops on traditional building construction techniques, and the provision of traditional materials for all restoration works undertaken by the Directorate of the Old City;
  7. Notes that a micro-finance loans system is being established for residential housing, and that restoration licenses have also been issued for buildings in residential areas;
  8. Further welcomes the enhanced cooperation of the national institutions in charge of the management of the property with local communities, NGOs and the University of Damascus;
  9. Also encourages the State Party to continue to implement fully all of the recommendations of the 2016 UNESCO First Aid Support Meeting and the 2016 UNESCO Technical Assistance Workshop, and to submit an updated report on works related to the Ottoman Bank to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  10. Also takes note that a coordination mechanism, led by the Directorate of the Old City under the responsibility of the Governorate of Damascus, is operating efficiently at the site, and that management and protection activities are undertaken under the guidance of a Master Plan which is operational, though still under the process of being approved, requests the State Party to provide further information on how the digital transformation project and comprehensive development plan are linked with the overall Master Plan to ensure the long terms sustainable development of the City, and to inform the World Heritage Centre once the Master Plan is approved;
  11. Encourages again the State Party to seek funding support for the elaboration of the Management Plan, which remains a crucial tool for the adequate long-term management of the property;
  12. Urges all parties to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the attributes which support and convey the OUV of the property, and to fulfil their obligations under international law, in particular the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict;
  13. Calls upon the international community to support the conservation of the property;
  14. Commends the progress made by the State Party in the implementation of the corrective measures, aimed at achieving the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and further encourages it to continue implementing the corrective measures in accordance with the established timeframe, and to submit reports and evidence to the World Heritage Centre as the corrective measures are progressively being implemented;
  15. Reiterates its request that the invited World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission be carried out as soon as the situation allows, in order to enable a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property;
  16. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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 46th session;
  17. Decides to retain Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Context of Decision