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The World Heritage Centre Dispatches High-Level Reactive Monitoring Mission to Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan)

Monday, 21 January 2019
access_time 2 min read
Shakhrisyabz, Historic Centre (Reactive Monitoring Mission, March 2016) © UNESCO | Feng JING

Following the decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018), a high-level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, led by the Deputy Director of the World Heritage Centre, is being dispatched to the World Heritage property "Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz" (Uzbekistan) on 21-26 January 2019, at the invitation of the Uzbek government.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz on the World Heritage List in 2000, under criteria (iii) and (iv) ; in 2016, the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (Decision 40 COM 7B.48). The Committee examined the state of conservation of the property at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018) and, taking into consideration the outcome of two previous Reactive Monitoring missions (March and December 2016) and its previous Decision 41 COM 7A.57 (Krakow, 2017), considered whether the property had "deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List". It noted its concerns that the reconstruction project "State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city" represented a threat to the OUV of the property. The Committee further regretted that no information had been provided to the World Heritage Centre concerning the reconstruction and development scheme and noted that since the last Reactive Monitoring missions, the State Party had not defined any possible mitigation measures to recover lost attributes or proposed a way forward. Therefore, the Committee requested the State Party to invite as soon as possible a high-level Reactive Monitoring mission in order to "discuss with the relevant Uzbek authorities and stakeholders possible mitigation of the impacts to the attributes that convey the property’s OUV and/or possible major boundary modification to the property".

In line with this overall objective, the January 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission will review any actions taken to implement the recommendations of the previous Reactive Monitoring missions and assess the actual loss within the historic centre as a result of recent destructions and the overall impact of the aforementioned State Programme on the authenticity and integrity of the attributes of the historic centre and on the OUV of the entire World Heritage property. In addition to reviewing the conservation, urban planning currently in place for the safeguarding of the historic city, the mission will also discuss capacity-building needs and opportunities and liaise with the Uzbek authorities to determine whether there is potential for a re-nomination of the property or whether a significant boundary modification could be considered.

The mission team is composed of Ms Jyoti Hosagrahar, Deputy Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Mr Mike Turner, representing ICOMOS International.

A report based on the findings of the mission will be prepared ahead of the World Heritage Committee’s 43rd session (Baku, June/July 2019) and made publically available on the World Heritage Centre's website. The report will also take into account the provisions of the Operational Guidelines, the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value as well as specific recommendations and conclusions of the previous Reactive Monitoring missions.

Monday, 21 January 2019
access_time 2 min read
States Parties (1)
Regions (1)
Asia and the Pacific
World Heritage Properties (1)
Decisions (3)
Code: 42COM 7A.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.74, 40 COM 7B.48 and 41 COM 7A.57, adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015), 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively, and, in particular, its Decision 41 COM 7A.57 paragraph 11, requesting the World Heritage Committee to consider whether the property had “deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the OUV defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List”; and noting the concern that the reconstruction project ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’ represented a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines,
  3. Also recalling that the March 2016 and December 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions to the property confirmed that “the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost, that traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed” (Decision 41 COM 7A.57), and that the key attributes of the OUV have been damaged,
  4. Further recalling that States Parties have an obligation under the Convention to protect and conserve the World Cultural and Natural Heritage situated on their territory, notably to ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection and conservation of such heritage,
  5. Recalling furthermore that, according to Article 6.1 of the Convention, properties inscribed on the World Heritage List constitute ‘a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate’, and recalling furthermore the duty of the international community to assist and cooperate with States Parties in their endeavour to conserve such heritage,
  6. Regrets that no information was provided on the reconstruction and development scheme to the World Heritage Centre in due time, and before any irreversible decision was taken, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Notes that the State Party has not defined any possible mitigation measures to recover lost attributes or proposed a significant boundary modification based on any recoverable attributes, in response to the Committee’s request to explore these options;
  8. Also notes that the work is currently suspended on the ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’ and requests the State Party to halt any further work at the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz until the World Heritage Committee reconsiders this matter at its 43rd session in 2019, with the exception of possible emergency recommendations from the high-level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission referred to in paragraph 18 below;
  9. Considers that the State Party’s 2017 report has not questioned the conclusions of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  10. Also regrets that the requests of the World Heritage Committee at its 39th, 40th, and 41st sessions were not properly addressed to protect key attributes of the OUV of the property;
  11. Takes note of the Decree of the Government of the State Party and its annex that includes a road map on the protection of the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz;
  12. Bearing in mind the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that “recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage” (41 COM.7A.57), recommends that the State Party should further explore options for the potential recovery of attributes and, if needed, consider, in consultation with ICOMOS, whether a significant boundary modification based on some of the monuments and the remaining urban areas might have the potential to justify OUV;
  13. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, for review by ICOMOS, including:
    1. Detailed plans of the town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
    2. Detailed plans of the remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
    3. Inventories of remaining traditional houses,
    4. Assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
    5. Current plans for further improvements and upgrade work on houses and access routes,
    6. Documentation on work carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription,
    7. A report on the current Master Plan for the city;
  14. Also requests that the State Party develop, in consultation with ICOMOS, detailed and specific indicators for the attributes of OUV for the entire property in order to assess the impact on authenticity and integrity in relation to these indicators, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  15. Also recommends the State Party to develop a holistic interpretation strategy for the property in order to communicate the historic development of the urban fabric and allow residents and visitors to establish a connection between the preserved elements of the property and its original structure and appearance;
  16. Urges the State Party to address recommendations of the World Heritage Committee as well as those of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission, notably regarding protection, management and tile decay on the façade of Ak-Saray Palace;
  17. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering retaining the property on the World Heritage List;
  18. Requests furthermore the State Party to invite as soon as possible a high-level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to discuss with the relevant Uzbek authorities and stakeholders possible mitigation of the impacts to the attributes that convey the property’s OUV and/or possible major boundary modification to the property;
  19. Decides to retain the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  20. Finally notes that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies stand ready to provide capacity-building assistance to the State Party at the national level, notably regarding the implementation of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, the process for Heritage Impact Assessments, in line with the ICOMOS Guidelines, and other important aspects of heritage management and conservation, and strongly encourages the State Party to use this opportunity as a means of strengthening management and conservation at other urban World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan.

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Code: 41COM 7A.57

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the Action Plan submitted by the State Party, which reflects an acknowledgement of the need to transform the protection, management and decision making not only for Shakhrisyabz but also for other World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan;
  4. Notes with extreme concern the findings of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission concerning the drastic and irreversible damage to the Temurid urban planning and to traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town resulting from works undertaken under the ‘State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’;
  5. Also notes with extreme concern the relocation of some 2,000 residents and the extensive conservation work at and around a number of cultural heritage monuments, including the Ak-Saray Palace, the Dorus-Saodat Complex, the Chor-su Bazaar and the Medieval Baths, partly carried out using inappropriate materials and irreversible techniques, including some reconstruction, which caused significant damage to the authenticity of the property;
  6. Greatly regrets that no information was provided to the World Heritage Centre on this major project before irreversible decisions were taken and work commenced, and understands that, had the project not been halted as requested by the Committee in 2016, the demolition would have been extended to other mahalla districts;
  7. Notes that no Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), no detailed systematic documentation, and no rescue archaeology was carried out before the major interventions began;
  8. Takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that, as the monumental buildings have now been disengaged from their urban surroundings, the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost and, as the traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed, the key attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) have been damaged to such an extent, and for the most part irreversibly, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed;
  9. Also takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage, but considers nevertheless that the State Party should explore all possible options for the recovery of attributes and examine whether a significant boundary modification could be envisaged based on any recoverable attributes, in line with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Requests therefore that the State Party halt any further work at Shakhrisyabz and provide to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, for review by ICOMOS, including:
    1. Detailed plans of the town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
    2. Detailed plans of the remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
    3. Inventories of remaining traditional houses,
    4. Assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
    5. Current plans for further improvements and upgrade work on houses and access routes, such as the widening and re-paving of roads,
    6. Documentation on work carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription,
    7. A current Master Plan for the city;
  11. Decides that on the basis of this documentation, a decision will be made at its 42nd session in 2018 on whether there is potential for a re-nomination of the property including only some of the monuments and the remaining urban areas, or whether the property has deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the OUV defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List;
  12. Urges the State Party to address all other recommendations of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission, notably regarding protection, management and tile decay on the façade of Ak-Saray Palace;
  13. Requests the World Heritage Centre to provide to the Committee at its 42nd session a report concerning the clarification of the processes associated with the Periodic Reporting and Reactive Monitoring system with regard to this property;
  14. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
  15. Also decides to retain Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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Code: 40COM 7B.48

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Regrets that the State Party has not responded to the concerns, recommendations and requests formulated in previous Committee Decisions; that it has not provided detailed plans and documentation or Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) of the “State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city”; and that it has failed to halt works until the necessary assessments and reviews have been carried out;
  4. Takes note with deep concern of the report provided by the 2016 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, which observed that major interventions had been carried out to date in the framework of the State Programme, including the demolition and re-building activities that have brought about irreversible changes to the original appearance of large area within the historic centre of Shakhrisyabz, the setting of the architectural monuments and the overall historical town planning structure and layers;
  5. Also expresses its deep concern that the State Party has not complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decision 39 COM 7B.74, and that the aforementioned interventions already represent a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, notably its integrity and authenticity, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Decides to inscribe the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Urges the State Party to immediately suspend all tourism development and reconstruction projects within the property and in the adjacent areas, and requests, as a matter of priority, the State Party to:
    1. Immediately halt all demolition of traditional housing areas, pending the development of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), the elaboration and finalisation of appropriate conservation policies/guidelines and of the Management Plan, and the detailed review of large-scale urban planning schemes for Shakhrisyabz,
    2. Provide detailed documentation of the demolition and other works undertaken under the “Tourism Development and Reconstruction” projects,
    3. Reinforce national laws and regulations on the protection of cultural heritage, with a specific focus on World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan, and adopt bylaws/regulations to support the implementation of the Convention at national level,
    4. Reinforce the heritage protection and management system by establishing a special agency responsible for the protection and management of World Heritage property, and providing it with adequate human and financial resources;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite, as a matter of urgency, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in order to identify the precise threats to the OUV of the property, in collaboration with key national and international stakeholders, and to determine whether corrective measures and a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) can be defined, or whether the works undertaken so far have so irreversibly damaged the attributes that sustain the OUV of the property, notably its authenticity and integrity, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed and should therefore be considered for possible deletion from the World Heritage List at a later session;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017.

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