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Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem

Palestine
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity
  • Development pressure
  • Tourism pressure
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity
  • Development pressure
  • Tourism pressure
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

Total amount granted: USD 723,000 from Italy (Emergency Action Plan 1997-1998; Conservation and Management Plan  2006-2010).

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 1 (from 2016-2016)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 28 January 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents, and provides information on both projects that have been completed and those currently being implemented. These include:

  • The roof restoration, installation of new windows, new doors, a new lifeline and new crosses was completed in March 2015. The report provides documentation consisting of technical reports from surveys and interventions for these, rationale and justification of the interventions, methodological approach, and a list of all documents and reports previously shared with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS in this regard;
  • On-going work includes interventions for the Narthex roof to address structural deformation with the construction of a steel structure above the existing vault system. The new structure is part of seismic retrofitting and stabilization efforts and will be finished by the end of June 2016;
  • Additional interventions for the restoration of internal plasters and wall mosaics are also being implemented and expected to conclude by mid-2016;
  • Project proposals are in progress for the restoration of wooden architraves, stone and mosaic floors, lighting, microclimate and smoke detection systems. Schedule for implementation hinges on securing adequate funding;
  • Pilgrimage Route: several concept ideas to revitalize the area and address urban pressure and traffic have been developed, including the Manger Square tunnel, the Manger Square Village, the rehabilitation of Star Street, and the preparation of a comprehensive traffic and transportation plan for Bethlehem, but no precise projects have been submitted for review at this stage;
  • No significant progress has been made on the development of the Management Plan, as qualified human resources and funding have not been secured. The State Party submitted an International Assistance request to fund the elaboration of the Management Plan; the panel requested the revision of the request;
  • Plans are in motion to develop Regulatory Bylaws for the buffer zone, which are expected to address development pressure and negative expansions. No funds have been secured for this endeavour;
  • Other projects implemented centred the rehabilitation of the Bethlehem Old market, of the Syriac hosh (readapted as a hotel), of the Qattan Square (public garden), and of the Manger Square.

The State Party invited a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to be carried out before the end of June 2016, and visit the restoration works before the removal of the scaffoldings.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

Considerable progress has been made in addressing the conservation conditions of the Church of the Nativity that existed at the time of inscription. The technical implementation seems appropriate for the various interventions carried out to date, and the justification, rationale, and methodological approach provide useful information. Since the numerous results from analysis and surveys have been carried out and shared with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS at separate moments in time, it has been a challenge to extract from these documents the comprehensive conservation approach and philosophy. Morevover, the long-term strategy for the architectural ensemble as a whole is still lacking. Therefore, it is crucial to develop and Integrated Conservation Plan for the architectural ensemble at this stage, before any new interventions are carried out that could impact the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The Conservation Plan should, as previously requested, systematize and integrate, in one synthetic document, information on the integrated assessment of conditions, clear prioritized conservation interventions, including ongoing and future measures, with timeframes for implementation. This document should include the wall mosaics, the frescoes, the pavement mosaics, and any other relevant elements or parts of the church. The plan should also include measures for presentation and interpretation, if necessary, as well as environmental control measures, including lightning, microclimates, among other, risk preparedness and maintenance and monitoring measures, including fire prevention, that will be required to ensure the long term conservation of the architectural ensemble. In this regard, the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission, foreseen end of June 2016, will allow evaluating the restoration and consolidation works that have been undertaken, and defining jointly with the State Party the exact contents of the Conservation Plan and related future measures.

The same approach should be carried out for the urban components of the property, currently either in implementation or at the concept development stages, such as for the Pilgrimage route and other elements related to the World Heritage property.

The development of the Management Plan of the property is crucial to address on-going concerns related to development and tourism pressures, as well as other issues such as housing and traffic. Although the Regulatory Bylaws are important elements to address some of these concerns, these need to be integrated and enforced with overarching management policies for the whole of the property and its setting, which should be defined during a participatory and multi-stakeholder management planning process. Finally, the need to submit large-scale projects, such as the Manger Square tunnel and the Manger Square Village, for review should be reiterated. It is best to discuss these at the earliest possible conceptual level to avoid costly revisions after designs have already been made.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7A.14
Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.28, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Notes that conservation works for the roof of the Church of the Nativity have been completed and acknowledges the progress made in addressing conservation conditions at the architectural ensemble and the rehabilitation works undertaken at other areas in the property;
  4. Also notes that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission will be carried out at the property and will allow evaluating the restoration works that have been carried out at the Church of the Nativity, and discussing with the State Party the contents of an Integrated Conservation Plan for past and future interventions;
  5. Requests the State Party to develop the Integrated Conservation Plan, as per the adopted corrective measures, which should include in one synthetic document, among other items, the following:
    1. Systematized condition assessment that includes all existing condition recording surveys, analysis and historic documentation,
    2. Identification of attributes which embody specific values according to the evolution of the ensemble and its character defining features,
    3. Overarching conservation philosophy and specific principles for conservation interventions in accordance to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and other relevant local values,
    4. Costed and prioritised conservation action plan for all component parts of the architectural ensemble with a timeframe for implementation,
    5. Additional measures for presentation, interpretation, environmental control, fire prevention, risk preparedness, maintenance and monitoring;
  6. Also requests to the State Party to prioritize and secure the necessary resources for the development of the Management Plan for the property and to provide an electronic and three printed copies of the Plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, concept proposals for the Manger Square Tunnel and the Manger Square village before plans are finalised or commitments made to their implementation;
  8. Further notes the request made by the State Party to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger but considers that the planned Advisory mission will allow discussing this request with the State Party to ensure full implementation of the corrective measures before the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017;
  10. Decides to retain Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
40 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/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 40 COM 7A.26)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 40 COM 7A.27)
  • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 40 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 40 COM 7A.1)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.34)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 40 COM 7A.2)
  • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.35)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.36)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.37)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.38)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.39)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.41)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 40 COM 7A.9)
  • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.43)
  • Georgia, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (Decision 40 COM 7A.28)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.33)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.48)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 40 COM 7A.10)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 40 COM 7A.11)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 40 COM 7A.12)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 40 COM 7A.13)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 40 COM 7A.44)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 40 COM 7A.6)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 40 COM 7A.7)
  • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 40 COM 7A.45)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 40 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 40 COM 7A.15)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 40 COM 7A.3)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 40 COM 7A.4)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.46)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 40 COM 7A. 30)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 40 COM 7A.49)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 40 COM 7A.16)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 40 COM 7A.17)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 40 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 40 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 40 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 40 COM 7A.21)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 40 COM 7A.8)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 40 COM 7A.31)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 40 COM 7A.47)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 40 COM 7A.50)
  • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 40 COM 7A.5)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 40 COM 7A.23)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 40 COM 7A.24)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 40 COM 7A.25).
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7A.14

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7A.28, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Notes that conservation works for the roof of the Church of the Nativity have been completed and acknowledges the progress made in addressing conservation conditions at the architectural ensemble and the rehabilitation works undertaken at other areas in the property;
  4. Also notes that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission will be carried out at the property and will allow evaluating the restoration works that have been carried out at the Church of the Nativity, and discussing with the State Party the contents of an Integrated Conservation Plan for past and future interventions;
  5. Requests the State Party to develop the Integrated Conservation Plan, as per the adopted corrective measures, which should include in one synthetic document, among other items, the following:
    1. Systematized condition assessment that includes all existing condition recording surveys, analysis and historic documentation,
    2. Identification of attributes which embody specific values according to the evolution of the ensemble and its character defining features,
    3. Overarching conservation philosophy and specific principles for conservation interventions in accordance to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and other relevant local values,
    4. Costed and prioritised conservation action plan for all component parts of the architectural ensemble with a timeframe for implementation,
    5. Additional measures for presentation, interpretation, environmental control, fire prevention, risk preparedness, maintenance and monitoring;
  6. Also requests to the State Party to prioritize and secure the necessary resources for the development of the Management Plan for the property and to provide an electronic and three printed copies of the Plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, concept proposals for the Manger Square Tunnel and the Manger Square village before plans are finalised or commitments made to their implementation;
  8. Further notes the request made by the State Party to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger but considers that the planned Advisory mission will allow discussing this request with the State Party to ensure full implementation of the corrective measures before the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, 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 41st session in 2017;
  10. Decides to retain Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2016
Palestine
Date of Inscription: 2012
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2012-2019
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .pdf
Report (2016) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
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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