On 20 February 2014 in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a discussion on the requirements of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was organized jointly with the Senate of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the UNESCO Tashkent Office. Mr Sodik Salikhovich Safoev, Head of the Committee on International Relations of the Senate of Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr Esanov Muhitdin Turdievich, Governor a.i. of the Bukhara region, and Ms Krista Pikkat, UNESCO Representative in Uzbekistan and Head of the UNESCO Tashkent Office, opened the meeting.
The meeting, which brought together Senators, Governors, Mayors, as well as representatives of the Ministries of Education and Culture and of civil society, was organized in follow-up to field work conducted in the historic centre of Bukhara.
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993, Bukhara is one of four World Heritage sites in Uzbekistan, alongside with Itchan Kala (1990); the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (2000) and Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures (2001). Given the rich cultural heritage of Uzbekistan, there are many more cultural heritage sites of significance that need protection.
The Uzbek government has made considerable efforts to comply with its obligations under the UNESCO 1972 Convention. A number of state programmes have been introduced for the better safeguarding and management of the World Heritage sites in the country. But, like in many other countries, it is always a challenge to find the right balance between the urge for the development and modernization of the cities and the need for their preservation as World Heritage sites.
The UNESCO Tashkent Office has been working hand in hand with the Ministry of Culture and Sport, and the Board of Monuments, building capacities of site managers and providing technical advice on the implementation of the Convention.
Between 2008 and 2013, the UNESCO Tashkent Office, in cooperation with the Leuven University in Belgium, conducted a survey of the buildings situated within the boundary of the Historic Centre of Bukhara in order to constitute a geographic information system database and assess the state of conservation of the buildings on this World Heritage property.
This field work was important for examining the ways and means to further strengthen the protection of the World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan which are of relevance not only to Bukhara, but also to other World Heritage sites in the country.
As a result of the deliberations during the Senate/UNESCO meeting in Bukhara, a series of recommendations was formulated for strengthening the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Uzbekistan.