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Town of Luang Prabang

Lao People's Democratic Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2003*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Illegal activities
  • Management activities
  • Other Threats:

    Concrete reinforcement of the Nam Khan river bank ; Construction of walls along the riverbank of the Mekong;

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Inappropriate conservation methods
  • New constructions
  • Need for a Safeguarding and Development Plan of the town
  • Urgent need for the enactment of a Cultural Properties Protection Law
  •  Illegal Demolition and construction
Corrective Measures for the property

Corrective measure N°1 aimed at better control of illegal constructions:

A procedure to monitor construction and to stop in time illegal works needs to be established, involving the Department of Cooperation and the MDP.

Corrective measure N° 2 to ensure respect of the law by everyone:

The Lao authorities will execute as an example and with the necessary publicity, at least one or two demolitions of the illegal constructions.

Corrective measure N°3 aimed at awareness raising of the Development and Conservation Plan by the local administration

As soon as possible the Governor of the province of Luang Prabang will present the Development  and Conservation Plan of the Maison du Patrimoine.  This presentation will be followed by a visit to the site. The Governor will organize and preside, within a two month period, a one-day workshop at which would participate Chiefs of all Provincial Departments.

Corrective measure N°4 to raise awareness of the Development and Conservation Plan by the enterprises:

Within the two-month period, a meeting of the enterprises and contractors having participated in the public works in the protected zone will be organized with the provincial services concerned and the Maison du Patrimoine to explain the Development and Conservation Plan.

Corrective measure N° 5 aimed  at stopping the public works in progress contrary to the Development and Conservation Plan:

The construction of the road in the proximity of the Ecomuseum of Boua Kang Bung will be stopped. The Maison du Patrimoine will propose an alternative solution.

In conformity with the recommendations of the ICOMOS expert, the construction works of the supporting walls along the Mekong riverbanks will be limited to the completion of the works-in-progress.  No new construction of supporting walls will be undertaken. 

A recovery of the drainage canals will be undertaken in conformity with the propositions which will be established by the MDP to remedy the current situation.

In conformity with the recommendations of the ICOMOS expert, the gabions on the banks of the Nam Khan will be completely recovered by soil and plantations will be installed.

Corrective measure N° 6 aimed at promoting the follow-up of the Development and Conservation Plan:

The Local Heritage Committee will meet regularly once a month in the presence of all services concerned.  It will treat difficult or contentious cases. It will transmit to the national Committee the questions which could not be settled at the local level.

Corrective measure N°7 aimed at better management of public places:

A well-planned and multi-usage solution will be elaborated between the provincial departments and the MDP (Asia-Urbs project) to conserve  the "Place d'armes" in its function as square where commercial activity can also take place.  The temporary use by the commercial activity will be regulated with care to ensure small markets in the city and to respect the cultural pluri-ethnic diversity.

Corrective measure N°8 to establish a Fund to help the local inhabitants:

The Fund to help the local inhabitants should work efficiently, notably on the 15 samples of the houses which have been identified.  The Fund should provide an urgent solution to the problem of tiles by immediate import of a stock of quality tiles

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2003
Requests approved: 5 (from 1994-1998)
Total amount approved : 92,242 USD
Missions to the property until 2003**

July 1999: World Heritage Centre mission; September 2000: World Heritage Centre / France-UNESCO Convention mission;  April 2002: WHC/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

Pursuant to Decision 26COM21(b)54, the Director-General of UNESCO, by letter of 12 August 2002, informed Mr Tadao Chino, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) of the concerns expressed by the Committee. Mr Chino, in his reply of 16 September, referred to the consultative mechanism, including ADB and UNESCO, established to ensure better co-ordination between the Maison du Patrimoine (MdP-Heritage House) of the Provincial Department of Information and Culture and the Urban Development Administrative Authority (UDAA) in respecting the conservation plan (PSMV).

The UNESCO monitoring mission (24-28 February 2003) composed of a Centre staff and the Senator-Mayor of Chinon (France) who is responsible for the city-to-city partnership programme, and an expert from the France-UNESCO Agreement, participated in the Inter-ministerial National Committee for Heritage chaired by the Minister of Information and Culture in Vientiane, and in the Local Heritage Committee in Luang Prabang, as well as in the on-site inspection in the company of the Vice Premier-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Justice, Vice-Minister of Construction, Deputy DG of the Planning Commission, Governor of Luang Prabang and other senior officials. The progress report on the implementation of the 6-point corrective measures presented at the Local Heritage Committee meeting indicated the following achievements:

  • partial correction of the open sewage system constructed under ADB-funding;
  • re-opening of the ponds filled-in for construction works under ADB-funding to protect the urban wetlands and halting of road widening activities in the wetlands;
  • abandon of the concrete gabion reinforcement of the Mekong riverbank in favour of consolidation by vegetation in view of potential risks of concrete structures, as recommended by the ICOMOS expert in April 2002;
  • strengthening of operational capacity of the MdP to review building permits and monitoring of public and private works thanks to allocation of funds for capacity-building under the € 5.5 million French Development Agency (AFD) project (PASS-LP) being implemented in close cooperation with UNESCO and the Chinon-Luang Prabang cooperation programme;
  • launch since April 2003, of small-scale public works for urban infrastructure improvement in 55 areas, including those through innovative modalities under the "village contract" between the MdP and neighbourhood committees funded under AFD's PASS-LP project;
  • implementation, since mid-2002, of the "incitation fund" to proprietors of buildings in the protected area, i.e. the provision of free traditional building material for housing renovation;
  • continuation under funding of AFD and Region Centre (France) of the urban wetlands protection and sanitation improvement project including the construction of an interpretation centre in a rehabilitated wetland (the first phase funded by EU was completed in 2001);
  • rehabilitation of a public space for outdoor markets for all ethnic groups of Laos, under EU-Asia Urbs funding;
  • submission to UNESCO of the draft amendment of the national cultural heritage protection law; Despite these positive efforts, some cases of constructions violating the PSMV were recorded in 2002 since the official adoption by the State Party of the corrective measures.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2003
27 COM 7B.50
Town of Luang Prabang (Lao People's Democratic Republic)

The World Heritage Committee [32],

1. Recalling Decision 26 COM 21 (b) 54 expressing concern over the growing incidents of violation of the conservation plan of Luang Prabang (PSMV), including public works being carried out by the Urban Development Administrative Authority (UDAA) under the Asian Development Bank for Secondary Cities, undermining the World Heritage value of the Town of Luang Prabang,;

2. Reiterating the fragility of these values based on the relationship between the natural and built environment, the traditional urban morphology and the fusion of traditional Lao and French architecture,;

3. Noting with appreciation the positive results in the implementation of the 6-point corrective measures to safeguard the property and the contribution to this effort by the French Development Agency, European Commission and the Région Centre through the Chinon-Luang Prabang-UNESCO co-operation programme,

4. Expressing concern over continued incidents of illegal construction and violation of the conservation plan (PSMV) and increasing vehicular traffic in the core protected area,;

5. Requests the State Party to:

(a) submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 on further progress in the implementation of the corrective measures in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004,

(b) make all efforts to raise public awareness and respect for the conservation plan (PSMV),

(c) take the necessary measures to reduce vehicular traffic and noise pollution impacting on the core area of the World Heritage property.

[32]  Decision adopted without discussion.

Draft Decision: 27 COM 7 (b) 50

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Recalling Decision 26COM21(b)54 expressing concern over the growing incidents of violation of the conservation plan (PSMV) of Luang Prabang, including public works being carried out by the Urban Development Administrative Authority (UDAA) under the Asian Development Bank for Secondary Cities, undermining the World Heritage values of the Town of Luang Prabang,

2. Reiterating the fragility of these values based on the relationship between the natural and built environment, the traditional urban morphology and the fusion of traditional Lao and French architecture,

3. Noting with appreciation the positive results in the implementation of the 6-point corrective measures to safeguard the site and the contribution to this effort by the French Development Agency, European Commission and Region Centre through the Chinon-Luang Prabang-UNESCO co-operation programme,

4. Expressing concern over continued incidents of illegal construction and violation of the conservation plan (PSMV) and increasing vehicular traffic in the core protected area,

5. Requests the State Party to: 

  • report to the 28th session of the Committee through the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 on further progress in the implementation of the corrective measures;
  •  make all efforts to raise public awareness and respect of the PSMV; and
  •  take the necessary measures to reduce vehicular traffic and noise pollution impacting on the core area of the World Heritage site. 
Report year: 2003
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Date of Inscription: 1995
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 27COM (2003)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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