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Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Afghanistan
Factors affecting the property in 2014*
  • Civil unrest
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Illegal activities
  • Other Threats:

    Risk of imminent collapse of the Giant Buddha niches; Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Risk of imminent collapse of the Giant Buddha niches;
  • Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings;
  • Looting, illicit traffic and illegal excavations of cultural heritage assets;
  • Continued use of certain heritage areas for military posts;
  • Anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordinances (i.e. munitions) (issue resolved);
  • Development pressure.
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Site security not ensured;
  • Long-term stability of the Giant Buddha niches not ensured;
  • State of conservation of archaeological remains and mural paintings not adequate;
  • Management Plan and Cultural Master Plan (the protective zoning plan) not implemented.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
Not yet identified
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2014

Total amount granted: USD 6,345,807 (2003-2014) from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust; USD 159,000 (2011-2012) from the Swiss Funds-in-Trust; USD 900,000 (2013) from the Italian Funds-in-Trust; USD 5,435, 284 (2013-2016) from the Korean Funds-in-Trust.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2014
Requests approved: 1 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2014**

No reactive monitoring mission has been carried out; November 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICCROM advisory mission; April 2011: UNESCO Kabul/ICOMOS advisory mission; UNESCO expert missions in the context of the implementation of specific projects.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

The State Party submitted a state of conservation report on 28 January 2014 (available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents), detailing progress made and difficulties faced in the implementation of corrective measures. National authorities and international experts also discussed the state of conservation issues at the 12th Bamiyan Expert Working Group, hereafter BEWGM (Orvieto, Italy, December 2013).

Full-time guards of the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) and Ministry of Interior have improved site security and the control of illicit trafficking. However, their future deployment relies on the continued support of international funds.

UNESCO Kabul and an ICOMOS Germany team signed a Partnership Agreement in 2013 for the construction of scaffolding to facilitate emergency consolidation of the Western Buddha niche. The ICOMOS Germany team was also contracted to build a platform in the lower gallery of the Eastern Buddha niche to protect visitors from rockfall and stabilize the rear wall against shearing forces caused by a major crack. As the two pillars supporting the platform were considered to be a reconstruction of the Buddha’s feet and had not previously been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, UNESCO suggested in September 2013 that work be halted pending a review of the project. The appropriatesness of the extensive intervention was debated at the 12th BEWGM and it was recommended that an ICOMOS Technical Advisory Mission be undertaken as soon as possible.

Conservation is underway at Shahr-i-Gholghola (with the support of the Governments of Italy). Baseline climatic and conservation data was established for mural paintings and caves of the Bamiyan Valley to inform future conservation work. Capacity building in conservation and site management for Afghan experts, and public awareness efforts, have accompanied the UNESCO extra-budgetary operational projects’ expert missions.

The Management Plan is still being finalised. The Cultural Master Plan (CMP), adopted by local and national governments, is being incorporated into the Urban Development Master Plan and being used to curb development, one of the major challenges faced. The status of the enforcement of building codes and development regulations is not mentioned.

MoIC has been advising the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Afghanistan to mitigate the impact of the Foladi Valley road construction passing near and through the property, undertaking missions to survey affected archaeology and divert the road accordingly. A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was conducted, apparently after construction, which concluded that the construction had no impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV): this information was not reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies at the time of this report’s drafting.

The Republic of Korea is supporting a project to develop a Bamiyan Culture Centre and Museum.

The State Party report highlights future plans for improved road access and development of tourist infrastructure through portions of the property. It also reports that the mine clearance programme is complete at the property. 

The State Party does not indicate the timeframe for the completion of all the corrective measures.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2014

The progress of the State Party in the implementation of corrective measures and in capacity building should be commended, as well as the improved inclusion of stakeholders in the finalization of the Management Plan and dissemination of the CMP.

There has been progress in the conservation efforts at the Buddha niches and other component parts of the property, including Shahr-i-Gholghola and in particular, progress towards the establishment of scaffolding in the Western Buddha niche, whose consolidation remains an urgency.

Concern has been expressed at the appropriateness of the intervention in the lower gallery of the Eastern Buddha niche. The World Heritage Committee is recommended to encourage the State Party to implement the recommendations of the forthcoming ICOMOS Technical Review Mission. Long-term treatment of the Buddha niches should take into account an overall agreed approach to conservation and presentation of the property, based on its OUV, as well as on the technical and financial feasibilities. Moreover, there is an urgent need for the World Heritage Committee to review, in line with the Operational Guidelines, any intervention with a potential impact on the OUV of the property prior to work being undertaken.

Progress in managing development pressure within the property and its setting has taken place, yet the need for greater support and capacity building for local communities and Afghan experts to mitigate development pressure is encouraged, as well as the incorporation of the CMP into the Ministry of Urban Development’s Urban Development Master Plan. Given some recent large scale developments such as a hotel, the need to enforce building codes and regulations on development in the buffer zones of the property and its setting and to finalize the Management Plan is also underscored.

The development of an HIA for the Foladi Valley Road construction and the significance of this precedent for future development at Bamiyan are well noted. However, the HIA appears to have been completed ex post facto, and was not shared with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to consturction. It is suggested that the Committee recommends that any decision on proposed development projects, including the proposed museum and visitor facilities, be based on an HIA in line with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage Cultural Properties and in  the framework of the ongoing finalization of the Management Plan. Proposals for large-scale projects need to be subjected to HIAs and submitted for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

Finally, the continued commitment of UNESCO and the international community to the safeguarding and conservation of the property, through financial and material assistance, is appreciated and the international community should continue these efforts, not only for the Buddha niches, but for all component parts of the property.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2014
38 COM 7A.15
Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) (C 208 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.30, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the progress made by the State Party on the implementation of the corrective measures, notably the conservation efforts at the Buddha niches and other component parts of the property, including Shahr-i-Gholghola and others, and efforts to mitigate the development pressure;
  4. Takes note of the continued concern expressed by the State Party on the critical condition of the large Western Buddha niche; also takes note of the need to consider the appropriateness of the interventions at the lower gallery of the Eastern Buddha niche, and future reconstruction policies for the Buddha niches; and acknowledges that an ICOMOS Technical Advisory Mission visited the property to assess these issues between 26 May and 2 June 2014;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party, when considering options for the treatment of the Buddha niches, to ensure that proposals are based on feasibility studies which include:
    1. an agreed overall approach to conservation and presentation of the property,
    2. an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
    3. technical and financial feasibilities for the implementation of the project proposals;
  6. Regrets that Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) to assess the impacts of the development of the Foladi Road construction were carried out only after the road construction took place, and were not shared with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to construction;
  7. Requests the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines , to submit detailed information, including HIAs, on any major planned developments within or nearby the property, such as the proposed Bamiyan Culture Centre and Museum as well as proposed visitors facilities, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to undertaking work;
  8. Also urges the State Party to incorporate the Cultural Master Plan into the Urban Development Master Plan for the Bamiyan Valley to mitigate development pressure, and to enforce building codes and regulations on development in the buffer zones of the property and other areas protected under the 2004 Afghan Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties;
  9. Further urges the State Party to finalize the Management Plan within an overall strategy of managing the property as a cultural landscape;
  10. Encourages the State Party to elaborate and implement, with the support of international donors, a capacity building programme to strengthen local and national capacity in heritage conservation and management, including developing the capacity of local communities to contribute to safeguarding the property;
  11. Calls upon the international community to continue providing technical and financial support for the protection and management of the entire property, in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  12. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  13. Decides to retain the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
38 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (retained sites)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 38 COM 7A.14)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 38 COM 7A.15)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 38 COM 7A.31)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.34)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 38 COM 7A.21)
  • Colombia, Los Katíos National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.32)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.35)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.36)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.37)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.38)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.39)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.41)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 38 COM 7A.1)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.43)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 38 COM 7A.16)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 38 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 38 COM 7A.33)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 38 COM 7A.28)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 38 COM 7A.2)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 38 COM 7A.3)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 38 COM 7A.4)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 38 COM 7A.44)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 38 COM 7A.24)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 38 COM 7A.25)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 38 COM 7A.45)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 38 COM 7A.5)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 38 COM 7A.20)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 38 COM 7A.22)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.46)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 38 COM 7A.18)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 38 COM 7A.29)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 38 COM 7A.12)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 38 COM 7A.26)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 38 COM 7A.19)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 38 COM 7A.30)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 38 COM 7A.23)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 38 COM 7A.13)
Draft Decision:    38 COM 7A.15

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A,

2.  Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.30, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),

3.  Commends the progress made by the State Party on the implementation of the corrective measures, notably the conservation efforts at the Buddha niches and other component parts of the property, including Shahr-i-Gholghola and others, and efforts to mitigate the development pressure;

4.  Takes note of the continued concern expressed by the State Party on the critical condition of the large Western Buddha niche; also takes note of the need to consider the appropriateness of the interventions at the lower gallery of the Eastern Buddha niche, and future reconstruction policies for the Buddha niches; and further notes that an ICOMOS Technical Advisory Mission will shortly visit the property to assess these issues;

5.  Reiterates its request to the State Party, when considering options for the treatment of the Buddha niches, to ensure that proposals are based on feasibility studies which include:

a)  an agreed overall approach to conservation and presentation of the property,

b)  an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,

c)  technical and financial feasibilities for the implementation of the project proposals;

6.  Regrets that Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) to assess the impacts of the development of the Foladi Road construction were carried out only after the road construction took place, and were not shared with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to construction;

7.  Requests the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to submit detailed information, including HIAs, on any major planned developments within or nearby the property, such as the proposed Bamiyan Culture Centre and Museum as well as proposed visitors facilities, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies prior to undertaking work;

8.  Also urges the State Party to incorporate the Cultural Master Plan into the Urban Development Master Plan for the Bamiyan Valley to mitigate development pressure, and to enforce building codes and regulations on development in the buffer zones of the property and other areas protected under the 2004 Afghan Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties;

9.  Further urges the State Party to finalize the Management Plan within an overall strategy of managing the property as a cultural landscape;

10.  Encourages the State Party to elaborate and implement, with the support of international donors, a capacity building programme to strengthen local and national capacity in heritage conservation and management, including developing the capacity of local communities to contribute to safeguarding the property;

11.  Calls upon the international community to continue providing technical and financial support for the protection and management of the entire property, in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

12.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;

13.  Decides to retain the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Report year: 2014
Afghanistan
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2003-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2014) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 38COM (2014)
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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