Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1980
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 2,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided: USD 5.07 million by the Italian Funds-in-Trust for the “Aksum Archaeological Site Improvement Project: Preparatory studies for the reinstallation of the Obelisk and capacity building for archaeological conservation - Phase 1”, "Reinstallation of the Obelisk - Phase 2” and “Consolidation of Stele III”.
Previous monitoring missions
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009: missions of the World Heritage Centre and experts for the implementation of the Obelisk project; 2010 and 2013: Joint Reactive Monitoring Missions World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS; 2015 ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016
On 28 January 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/documents/, outlining progress made in relation to the requests of the Committee:
An ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property took place in February 2016 (mission report available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/15/documents).
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The progress made by the State Party is acknowledged. The 2015 ICOMOS mission report has provided additional observations and analysis regarding a number of the matters that affect the state of conservation of the property.
The unfinished state of the Church Museum continues to have a temporary, but highly negative, impact on the setting and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The Church collections are in a perilous state of conservation. Details of the façade modification should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies and the Church Museum project should be completed as soon as possible. Investigation is required regarding archaeological features that were reported as being discovered during the Church Museum building works.
The boundaries of the property and buffer zone have been formalized through the gazetting of Regulation 246/2015. Detailed maps are required with the physical boundaries of the property and its buffer zone clearly defined. These boundaries do not respond to critical view lines and the continued built fabric as well as the intangible features of the Church in the property.
The gazetting of the Aksum World Heritage Reserve Area Designation, Regulation 346/2015, will contribute to the conservation and management of the property but should be implemented rapidly. This Regulation has addressed in principle the recommendations of the 2013 Reactive Monitoring mission regarding the protection of critical viewpoints. However, development guidelines, which include restoration and adaptive reuse, are urgently needed for the property and buffer zone as new construction is affecting the setting and OUV of the property.
The completion of the Management Plan for the property remains a matter of great priority and urgency. Once finalized, the draft Management Plan should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies for review in conjunction with the Thematic Master Plan.
The Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Development Project (ESTDP) was broadly in line with the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme. The designs of the ESTDP interventions should not be applied to other areas of the property such as the Church Compound as they are unsuited to these contexts.
Little progress has been made in either planning the consolidation of Stela III or the investigation of the water problems in the Tomb of the Brick Arches. The 2015 ICOMOS mission identified further problems with rainwater ingress and structural weakness at the Mausoleum, which further compounds the problems faced at the main Stela Field. Any proposal that requires excavation in or around the Tomb of the Brick Arches should not be undertaken and more cautious options should be pursued, following expert advice.
A number of inappropriate developments are underway in the property and the buffer zone and there are a number of proposals, such as landscaping the Church Compound, demolishing the building at the entrance of the Stelae Field and constructing a new entrance building. The State Party should submit details of all such prospective projects to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
Lastly, upon completion of the Management Plan, it is also recommended that the State Party envisage training for relevant personnel on the requirements of the World Heritage Convention, of the Operational Guidelines and of the Management Plan for Aksum itself.
Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.10
The World Heritage Committee,