1.         Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (Sri Lanka) (C 451)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (iv)

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/451/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 3,334
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

2002: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; November 2007: UNESCO expert advisory mission; April/May 2008: UNESCO New Delhi Office advisory mission; February 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 8 April 2013 providing information on the recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee at it 36th session (36 COM 7B.68). The State Party apologised for not responding to the previous Committee decisions due to major structural changes within the ministries handling World Heritage matters.

a)  Proposed Port Development

The State Party reports that the scale of the port development has been reduced and that the new proposal has been sent to the Department of Archaeology for approval together with the Archaeological Impact Assessment. While the assessment concludes no negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value, the Department of Archaeology expresses its concerns regarding the potential impacts on the underwater structures of the fortification should this project be implemented and seeks UNESCO’s assistance on this issue. Neither the Archaeological Impact Assessment nor detailed revised plans for the Port Development were received.

b)  Boundaries and buffer zone

The report states that as part of the Periodic Reporting process, a buffer zone has been defined in consultation with stakeholders and will be submitted following the internal approval process. No information has been provided on the extension of the boundaries to include the maritime archaeology of the bay.

c)   International Cricket Stadium

No information has been provided on the current intentions with regard to the international cricket stadium.

d)  Management System/structure


The State Party reports that a comprehensive management system is in place for the property. The Department of Archaeology which has the primary mandate for the protection of the property, and manages the property through the Galle Heritage Foundation by bringing all relevant stakeholders together and sharing the resources (human and financial) with other institutions including universities. The State Party indicates that detailed conservation plans are being developed and also implemented at present at the property in line with the Galle Management Plan (2010). The concerns raised by the February 2010 reactive monitoring mission remain unanswered. In particular, no information has been provided on the implementation of recommendations relating to the management weaknesses such as lack of resources, empowerment and support of Galle Heritage Foundation or a creation of a cross-departmental Government Agency in Galle, a Conservation and Development Authority with delegated powers, to take actions and decisions. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the information provided by the State Party on the revision of the port development project, although no detailed plans have been received. They consider that a Heritage Impact Assessment of the proposed revised port development should be carried out including a specific technical component to ascertain the potential impacts on the underwater archaeological structures, before any formal commitment to this project is given.

They underline the importance of revising the buffer zone surrounding the Old Town of Galle and its fortifications in the context of protecting its setting from adverse effects of any future development and in responding to the request of the Committee to clarify the boundaries as well as to consider an extension of the property to include maritime archaeology.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recall the previous Committee decisions on the need to provide detailed information on the current intentions with regard to the International Cricket Stadium and note that no information has been received.


They also recall that the lack of a detailed state of conservation report by the State Party since 2009 appears to reflect the need to further empower and support the Galle Heritage Foundation in its role as the managing authority for the property, as encouraged by the Committee at its 34th and 36th sessions in order to address the lack of a satisfactory management system as identified by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission.They further recall the need to establish a cross-department Government Agency, with delegated executive authority, to manage all planning and development issues within the Property including the buffer zone surround it for a efficient coordination and management.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.67

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7B.72 , 35 COM 7B.78 and 36 COM 7B.68, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively,

3.  Regrets that the State Party has provided limited or no response to the decisions of the Committee and expresses its concern that no details have been given on the following:

a)  the revised port development project and its Heritage Impact Assessment or of its proposed timescale,

b)  the extension of the property to include maritime archaeology and the definition of a buffer zone,

c)  the proposed intentions for the International Cricket Stadium,

d)  strengthening the role of the Galle Heritage Foundation and the overall management system for the property;

4.  Requests the State Party to supply detailed plans for the revised port project and to conduct a comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessment study, in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidance for World Heritage cultural properties, to assess the impacts on Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including a technical study to ascertain potential impacts on the underwater archaeology and submit these as a matter of urgency to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies in advance of any irreversible commitments;

5.  Also requests the State Party to formally submit the proposals for the revision of the buffer zone and encourages them to consider an extension of the property to cover maritime archaeology of the bay;

6.  Further requests the State Party to provide updated information on their intentions in relation to the International Cricket Stadium;

7.  Reiterates its request to strengthen the Galle Heritage Foundation or establish a cross-department Government Agency, Galle Conservation and Development Authority, in line with the recommendations made by the 2010 reactive monitoring mission, with a view to enhancing the management mechanism of the property;

8.  Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , 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 38th session in 2014.