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Colonial City of Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Earthquake
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Storms
  • Underground transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal framework (undefined and unregulated buffer zone leading to urban development pressure and inadequate control of land use)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Vulnerability to earthquakes and hurricanes
  • Deterioration of historic structures derived from natural and social factors (including environmental pollution and lack of sensitization of local residents)
  • Urban development project (Sansouci)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 3 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 82,207 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

1993, 1995, 1998: Monitoring missions; August 2001: ICOMOS Monitoring mission; 2002: World Heritage Centre mission; December 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2009: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 11 December 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/526/documents/ and in which the State Party reaffirms that all interventions affecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property require the participation and approval of the National Directorate for Monumental Heritage (DNPM) and the local authorities. This is periodically communicated to all parties intervening in the area, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) currently financing a major tourism development programme at the property.

As for the specific recommendations in paragraph 6 of Decision 38 COM 7B.42, it is reported that:

  • The buffer zone on the eastern side of the colonial city was approved by Ordinance 02-15 of the Municipality of Santo Domingo East dated 22 May 2015; however it does not coincide with the one proposed by the DNPM as it establishes Avenida España as the boundary of the buffer zone instead of a parallel line 100m further to the east;
  • The revision of the draft Law for the Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage has been postponed until the finalization of the updating of Law 41-00 that creates the State Secretary of Culture;
  • The professional capacity of the DNPM has been significantly affected since a number of its staff has sought employment in other institutions and projects intervening in the Colonial City;
  • The Steering Committee for coordinating interventions in the Colonial City is unable to function properly since the required quorum and consensual decision-making cannot be achieved due to the non-participation of one of the parties. The Ministry of Culture has drafted a Decree to modify the quorum required to remedy this situation;
  • The subway project foresees three stations in the Colonial City. Although studies concluded that the project is technically feasible and does not constitute any risk to the built heritage, the Ministry of Culture has proposed the implementation of only one station (Parque Independencia) and the establisment of a multimodal transport system with the use of microbuses considered as more adapted with the property;
  • The Sansouci project is still in the design phase and its promoters have communicated that no constructions are foreseen within the recently established buffer zone.

Furthermore, due to infrastructural works undertaken by the IDB Tourism Development Programme, part of the Hotel Frances, dating from the 16th century, collapsed. An extensive assessment of the causes of the collapse is annexed to the report.

Finally, the report includes information on the proposed construction, in the framework of the IDB Programme, of a conference centre in and next to the ruins of the monastery of San Francisco. It states that the terms of the competition of the project were elaborated without the participation of the DNPM and the consensus of the population, and as a result the winning project was publicly and massively rejected; therefore its implementation has been halted. The report states that this reaction confirms the necessity that all projects need to be formulated, from the beginning, with the management institutions and with the population.

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

The report contains encouraging information on the adoption of a buffer zone to the east of the World Heritage property and regarding the development of the Sansouci project. The State Party should be requested formally to submit the buffer zone to the World Heritage Committee as a minor boundary modification and present the further urban and architectural designs for the Sansouci project for in-depth evaluation by ICOMOS.

While the report provides updated information on the process for the new Law for the Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage, on the strengthening of the national institution responsible for the cultural heritage (National Directorate for Monumental Heritage DNPM) and regarding the proposals for a subway line through the Colonial City, it is noted that no concluding results have been reported yet. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide detailed information regarding these issues as soon as they become available.

The statement by the State Party that all actions within the World Heritage property require the participation and approval of the institutions that are responsible for its management and conservation is welcomed. However, the State Party report illustrates particularly that the capacity of the National Directorate for Monumental Heritage to exercise and enforce its legal competencies is limited and that its role and responsibilities are not generally recognized by other parties that are implementing interventions in the area. A case in point is the Steering Committee that was created for coordination and joint decision making but remains to be functional due to the non-participation of one of the parties. The lack of coordinated action between the national and local institutions and the IDB-financed Tourism Development programme is highly regrettable. This situation may also have been a factor in the collapse of the Hotel Frances.

The State Party information on the project for a convention centre at the site of the ruins of San Francisco is of serious concern. The 2015 ICOMOS technical review of the project affirms that, beyond the justified governmental objective to promote tourism, it is fundamental to prioritize, above all, the conservation and protection of the property and that an updated study of the real capacity of the Colonial City and its monuments to assimilate tourism and the formulation of indicators on the admissible loads should be elaborated, approved by the Heritage authorities and, if possible, submitted to the World Heritage Centre for assessment by ICOMOS.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.4
Colonial City of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) (C 526)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. While recognizing that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-financed Tourism Development Project constitutes a great opportunity for the preservation of the property under the condition that it is executed according to national legislation and regulations and internationally accepted norms and standards, notes with regret and very serious concern that no adequate mechanisms have been established for the coordination and cooperation among the institutions responsible for the protection of the property (the National Directorate for Monumental Heritage (DNPM) and the Municipality of Santo Domingo) on the one hand, and the Tourism Development Project implemented by the Ministry of Tourism on the other hand;
  4. Recommends the State Party to address this issue as a matter of urgency and take the necessary measures to ensure that the DNPM has the technical, financial and institutional capacity to fulfill its legal obligations and that other institutions act according to established legal and institutional frameworks;
  5. Deploring the collapse of part of the XVIth century Hotel Frances, urges the State Party to clearly establish its causes and do the necessary to prevent that infrastructural works affect the heritage values of buildings and structures, and requests the State Party to report on the final results of the investigations and measures taken to prevent similar events in the future;
  6. Strongly recommends that the State Party review the objectives and parameters of the proposed convention centre in the ruins and gardens of the Convent of San Francisco, to undertake a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and establish the carrying capacity of the Colonial City and its components in order to determine the convenience of such a convention centre and other major facilities in the historical centre;
  7. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the definition of a buffer zone east of the property and also requests it to submit the buffer zone as a minor boundary modification in accordance with paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines as soon as possible;
  8. Welcomes that in the buffer zone on the east side of the property no constructions of the Sansouci project are foreseen and further requests that urban and architectural designs be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they become available;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.4

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. While recognizing that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-financed Tourism Development Project constitutes a great opportunity for the preservation of the property under the condition that it is executed according to national legislation and regulations and internationally accepted norms and standards, notes with regret and very serious concern that no adequate mechanisms have been established for the coordination and cooperation among the institutions responsible for the protection of the property (the National Directorate for Monumental Heritage (DNPM) and the Municipality of Santo Domingo) on the one hand, and the Tourism Development Project implemented by the Ministry of Tourism on the other hand;
  4. Recommends the State Party to address this issue as a matter of urgency and take the necessary measures to ensure that the DNPM has the technical, financial and institutional capacity to fulfill its legal obligations and that other institutions act according to established legal and institutional frameworks;
  5. Deploring the collapse of part of the XVIth century Hotel Frances, urges the State Party to clearly establish its causes and do the necessary to prevent that infrastructural works affect the heritage values of buildings and structures, and requests the State Party to report on the final results of the investigations and measures taken to prevent similar events in the future;
  6. Strongly recommends that the State Party review the objectives and parameters of the proposed convention centre in the ruins and gardens of the Convent of San Francisco, to undertake a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and establish the carrying capacity of the Colonial City and its components in order to determine the convenience of such a convention centre and other major facilities in the historical centre;
  7. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the definition of a buffer zone east of the property and also requests it to submit the buffer zone as a minor boundary modification in accordance with paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines as soon as possible;
  8. Welcomes that in the buffer zone on the east side of the property no constructions of the Sansouci project are foreseen and further requests that urban and architectural designs be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they become available;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Dominican Republic
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .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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