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Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Afghanistan
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • 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
Initial timeframe adopted now requires review
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

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 2015
Requests approved: 1 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

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 2015

On 3 April 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/2008/documents.  However, it should be noted that this report is identical to the one submitted in 2014.  Therefore, the current document is prepared on the basis of the annual report on the Japan Funds-in-Trust Safeguarding of the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan valleys (Phase IV) submitted to the Government of Japan.

In 2014, only the ICOMOS Germany team undertook field activities for the conservation work within the above project, as follows:

  • Conservation of two lapidaries within the Eastern Buddha niche with more durable materials, including partial repairs of the surrounding wall;
  • Conservation of fragments in front of the Western Buddha niche, with proper storage and documentation;
  • Establishment of partial scaffolding for the Western Buddha niche, based on a feasibility study, for the protection for experts and workers from falling rocks, although incomplete;
  • Consolidation of the rear wall and stabilization of the upper corridor access to the Western Buddha niche.

On the other hand, the discussion on the appropriateness of extensive conservation work, carried out on Eastern Buddha feet by the German ICOMOS team, continued between the donor and UNESCO.  The ICOMOS technical advisory mission took place from 26 May to 2 June 2014 and formulated a set of recommendations that have been submitted to the Government of Afghanistan for their follow-up action.

The mission recommended that, since neither a decision nor a feasibility study regarding the partial reconstruction of the Eastern Buddha existed, the two pillars ought to be carefully removed. The mission also recommended that a study and/or debate, involving all local, national and international stakeholders, be commissioned on the feasibility and options for the reconstruction of the Eastern Buddha.  Up to date, no comment had been made by the State Party. The Ministry of Information and Culture was expected to start implementing the recommendations made by the ICOMOS technical Advisory mission, upon consultation to be undertaken with UNESCO as well as other stakeholders.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

It is regrettable that no updated state of conservation report has been submitted. While the current report has been prepared on the basis of the annual report on the Japan Funds-in-Trust, it should be acknowledged that its scope does not cover all the range of conservations issues in compliance with the requests made by the World Heritage Committee. For example, there has been no updated information regarding the development pressure within the property and its setting that has been quite strong over the past years. Given some recent large scale developments such as a hotel, there is a great 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.

More support and capacity building for local communities and Afghan experts to mitigate development pressure is needed, as well as the incorporation of the Management Plan into the Ministry of Urban Development’s Urban Development Master Plan.

It is recommended that the Committee underline the urgent need for the State Party to finalize and adopt the comprehensive Management Plan, as the key condition toward efficient implementation of the corrective measures adopted by the Committee in Decision 31 COM 7A.21 (Christchurch, 2007). It is also suggested that the State Party consider making any decision on proposed development projects, including the proposed museum and visitor facilities, based on a Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA), in line with the ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage Cultural properties.  Proposals for large-scale projects need to be subjected to HIAs and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

It is noted that there has been some progress in the conservation efforts at the Buddha niches, in particular, progress towards the establishment of scaffolding in the Western Buddha niche, whose consolidation remains urgent. It is also noted that the site security has been entirely relying on the international funds such as the Funds-in-Trust established by Japan and Italy. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to commit cost for site guard(s) in the government’s annual budget. Restoring site security is the precondition for fully implementing the corrective measures and maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to work with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to review the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures.

The recommendations made by the 2014 ICOMOS technical Advisory mission are particularly welcomed, and it is therefore recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to implement them.  Long-term treatment of the Buddha niches should take into account an overall agreed approach to the conservation and presentation of the property, an appropriate conservation philosophy based on the OUV of the property, , as well as on the technical and financial feasibilities as requested by the Committee in its previous decisions.

The continued commitment of UNESCO and the international community to the safeguarding and conservation of the property, through financial and expertise 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 2015
39 COM 7A.39
Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) (C 208 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.15, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Regrets that no updated state of conservation report has been submitted by the State Party, in particular regarding recent large scale of development projects;
  4. Reiterates that the World Heritage Committee shall be notified prior to any major restoration and or new construction which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse in accordance to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre, as a matter of urgency and prior to undertaking the work, detailed information, including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), on the proposed Bamiyan Culture Centre and Museum, as well as proposed visitors facilities, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. 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;
  6. Also urges the State Party to finalize and adopt the comprehensive Management Plan within an overall strategy of managing the property as a cultural landscape;
  7. Also requests the State Party to take all necessary measures to restore site security and commit cost for site guard(s) in the government’s annual budget so as to fully implement the corrective measures and maintain the OUV of the property and further urges the State Party to review, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures and submit this to the World Heritage Centre for consideration by the Committee;
  8. Further requests 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;
  9. Welcomes the recommendations of the ICOMOS technical Advisory mission to the property undertaken in 2014, and encourages the State Party to implement them to mitigate the extensive intervention work carried out on the foot of the Eastern Buddha of the property so as to ensure its future protection;
  10. Takes note of the need to consider future reconstruction policies for the Buddha niches, and 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 OUV of the property,
    3. technical and financial feasibilities for the implementation of the project proposals;
  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 (DSOCR);
  12. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, 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 40th session in 2016;
  13. Decides to retain the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
39 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of the World Heritage in Danger

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-15/39.COM/7A and WHC-15/39.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 39 COM 7A.38)
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 39 COM 7A.39)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 39 COM 7A.18)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosi (Decision 39 COM 7A.44)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.1)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 39 COM 7A.45)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.3)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.4)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.5)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.8)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 39 COM 7A.24)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.10)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 39 COM 7A.40)
  • Georgia, Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Decision 39 COM 7A.41)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.20)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 39 COM 7A.15)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 39 COM 7A.25)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 39 COM 7A.26)
  • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 39 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 39 COM 7A.11)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 39 COM 7A.21)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 39 COM 7A.22)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 39 COM 7A.12)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 39 COM 7A.28)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 39 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 39 COM 7A.46)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 39 COM 7A.47)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.13)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 39 COM 7A.42)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 39 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 39 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 39 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 39 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 39 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 39 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 39 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 39 COM 7A.23)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 39 COM 7A.43)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 39 COM 7A.14)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 39 COM 7A.17)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 39 COM 7A.48)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 39 COM 7A.37)
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7A.39 

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7A.15, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Regrets that no updated state of conservation report has been submitted by the State Party, in particular regarding recent large scale of development projects;
  4. Reiterates that the World Heritage Committee shall be notified prior to any major restoration and or new construction which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse in accordance to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre, as a matter of urgency and prior to undertaking the work, detailed information, including a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), on the proposed Bamiyan Culture Centre and Museum, as well as proposed visitors facilities, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. 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;
  6. Also urges the State Party to finalize and adopt the comprehensive Management Plan within an overall strategy of managing the property as a cultural landscape;
  7. Requests the State Party to take all necessary measures to restore site security and commit cost for site guard(s) in the government’s annual budget so as to fully implement the corrective measures and maintain the OUV of the property and further urges the State Party to review, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures and submit this to the World Heritage Centre for consideration by the Committee;
  8. Also requests 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;
  9. Welcomes the recommendations of the ICOMOS technical Advisory mission to the property undertaken in 2014, and encourages the State Party to implement them to mitigate the extensive intervention work carried out on the foot of the Eastern Buddha of the property so as to ensure its future protection;
  10. Takes note of the need to consider future reconstruction policies for the Buddha niches, and 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 OUV of the property,
    3. technical and financial feasibilities for the implementation of the project proposals;
  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 (DSOCR);
  12. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, 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 40th session in 2016;
  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: 2015
Afghanistan
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2003-present
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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