1.         Maya Site of Copan (Honduras) (C 129bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 226,513
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

Monitoring Mission in 1999

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

The construction foreseen for an airport in the archaeological area of Rio Amarillo, 17 km from the core zone of the World Heritage property.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/129/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

After transmitting to the State Party the Committee’s Decision 29 COM 7B.90, the World Heritage Centre repeatedly asked for information on the status of the Environmental Impact Assessment report in relation to the building of an airport in the valley of Río Amarillo. In November 2005, the National Institute of Anthropology and History informed the World Heritage Centre that the Secretariat for Human Resources and the Environment intended to subject the above-mentioned report to further study. Through non official channels, the World Heritage Centre has been informed that the process has been halted due to a court injunction. Moreover, the World Heritage Committee, by its Decision 29 COM 7B.90, has requested the State Party to elaborate a Public Use Study, as a precondition for the construction of the new airport at Rio Amarillo. However, only a preliminary draft of this study has so far been received from the State Party. This draft does not address the concerns expressed by the Committee regarding the impact of the airport on the archaeological site of Copan.

Towards the end of January 2006, the State Party sent to the World Heritage Centre the State of Conservation report of the site, requested by the Committee. This report gives an account of the progress made on the preparation of the management plan.

With respect to the management plan for the site, the World Heritage Centre noted the lack of a participatory methodology in its elaboration, although this was one of the conditions stipulated in the framework of the agreements with the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. Such a participatory approach was particularly necessary in relation to the issues concerning the Copan Ruins Community, Sociedad de Buenos Componedores (Society of Good Repairers), and the communities adjacent to the Río Amarillo area. Moreover, the management plan does not cover the entire Copan Valley, which is protected by national legislation on a special basis.

The World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to provide clear and accurate cartography, showing the official limits of the registered site. Unfortunately, no information has been received on the matter nor on the possible purchase of lands in order to link the Las Sepulturas area with the main Copan site.

Finally, the Getty Conservation Institute has completed the Copan Hieroglyphic Stairway conservation plan. However, the monitoring programme is continuing and the monitoring equipment is still in place. In addition, the State Party reported on the state of conservation of underground stuccoes throughout the site, which is considered to be fair. This particular report was prepared in cooperation with the Mexican INAH.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7B.95

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Also recalling the recommendations of the previous monitoring missions of 1999, 2003 and 2005,

4. Urges the State Party not to proceed with the construction of the planned airport at Rio Amarillo Valley. The two ICOMOS missions of 2003 and 2005 based on visits to the sites and the environmental impact studies done by the Government of Honduras, as well as by independent organizations, have shown the negative impact that the construction of this airport will have on the cultural resources, the traditional social networks, the beliefs and values of the indigenous people, and the landscape. The State Party is encouraged to consult closely with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies on the appropriate steps to be taken;

5. Requests the State Party submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2007, the terms of reference for conducting a Public Use Study for the management of the future Rio Amarillo Archaeological Park to complement the already existent management plan;

6. Further requests the State Party to continue monitoring the state of conservation of the Copan Hieroglyphic Stairway, based on the programme developed by the Getty Conservation Institute;

7. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property and on the progress made in the implementation of the above recommendations, for the examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.