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Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz

Uzbekistan
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Demolition and re-building of traditional housing areas

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of a comprehensive conservation and management plan 
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 1 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

October 2002: Monitoring mission by an international expert; March 2006: UNESCO Tashkent/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 13 January 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/documents. A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission was carried out from 28 to 31 March 2016. The mission report is also available at the link above.

In the framework of the Decree “On development programme for tourism in Kashkadarya region for the period of 2013 – 2015”, adopted in 2013, and of the State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisabz city (2014-2016), adopted in 2014, the State Party reported that extensive improvements are being carried out to the historic buildings, the infrastructure and the architectural appearance of the historic city, including the construction of modern hotels and individual multi-storied buildings. A working committee headed by the First Deputy Prime Minister approves and monitors all the required activities. Furthermore, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and other relevant ministries ensure the implementation of works for the preservation of cultural heritage buildings of Shakhrisabz.

The programme also foresees improvements to the urban landscape by demolishing arbitrarily built residential and other buildings near the fortification walls and the monuments. Other projects include the construction of individual and low-height residential buildings with trade and craft shops as well as modern hotels and the conservation and restoration of historic buildings and cultural heritage objects.

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

The report provided by the State Party has not responded to the concerns and recommendations of previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee on proposed major urban transformation, nor has it provided detailed plans and documentation for all works envisaged or Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), nor have works been halted until assessments and reviews have been carried out.

The 2016 mission observed that major interventions have already been carried out, involving the demolition of buildings in some 70 ha of the centre of the medieval quarters (30% of the entire urban fabric located within the boundaries of the property), which at the time of inscription was seen to bear witness to centuries of its history and to reflect town planning practices and the socio-cultural identity of an important historical period for Shakhrisyabz. Old residential areas, historic urban layers and buildings from the 20th century have been demolished and replaced with tourist kiosks and a modern ‘theme park’. This process has involved alterations to the network of old streets, the removal of traditional vegetation and green areas, the replacement of traditional water management systems, and the destruction of some period houses which reflected a traditional architectural layout around a courtyard with a veranda (mahallas). These interventions have brought about irreversible changes to the original appearance of the historic centre of Shakhrisyabz, the setting of the architectural monuments and the overall historical town planning and traditional houses.

Since the State Party has not complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decision 39 COM 7B.74, the mission noted the following serious negative interventions:

  • The important ongoing rebuilding, noncompliant with the aforementioned Decision (Paragraph 5), exerts a highly negative impact on the original appearance of the historic centre and other cultural layers in the centre of the property, on a stretch of approximately 2 km between the Dorut-Tilovat complex and the Ak-Sarai Palace;
  • The extensive restoration and rebuilding of the major monuments (Dorus Saodat Complex, the Dar al-Tilavot, the Chor-su Bazaar and the Medieval Baths) has been carried out using inappropriate restoration materials, none of which is in conformity with the principles of international charters and recommendations (e.g. the Nara Document on Authenticity) or with the philosophy of international conservation;
  • The monuments and sites are left isolated in a modern urban landscape as a consequence of the interventions in the historic centre;
  • The original appearance and features of the medieval town centre and its evolution through the centuries with modern architectural interventions have been replaced and became invisible;
  • The city wall (approximately 1 km) was reconstructed with a gate on the north border, which was not supported or justified by appropriate scientific research or sufficient information.

None of the works carried out so far has been subject to HIA, nor was information provided to the World Heritage Centre before irreversible action was taken, as requested in Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

In terms of management, the mission noted that the Board of Monuments has a limited role within the development programme, and also noted the absence of a comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, which has been requested by the Committee since 2004.

The extent of the works (which continue to be carried out) and the lack of scientific methodologies have irreversibly compromised the authenticity and integrity of the property, thereby potentially threatening its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

Taking into consideration (i) the impacts of the ongoing tourism development and reconstruction projects on the historic urban fabric of property; (ii) the serious impacts on the property’s authenticity and integrity; and (iii) the absence of a comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, it is recommended that the Committee immediately inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines.

This first step would allow for an assessment of the overall threats to the OUV of the property. This evaluation would further allow finding out whether comprehensive mitigation measures can be defined to reverse these threats, in collaboration with key national and international stakeholders, or whether the works carried out have irreversibly damaged the attributes that sustain the OUV, notably the property’s authenticity and integrity, to such an extent that they cannot be mitigated.

It is therefore also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to immediately suspend all development and reconstruction projects and to halt all demolition of traditional housing areas, pending the development of HIAs and the finalization of appropriate conservation policies/guidelines, the finalization of the Management Plan, and a detailed review of the large-scale urban planning schemes for Shakhrisyabz.

It is also recommended that the State Party invite a Reactive Monitoring mission to investigate the precise extent to which the “Tourism Development and Reconstruction” projects have impacted the OUV of the property and whether corrective measures can be defined or whether the OUV of the property has been irreversibly damaged to such an extent that the property should be considered for removal from the World Heritage List.

Lastly, it is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to reinforce national laws and regulations on the protection of cultural heritage, with a specific focus on World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan, and adopt bylaws/regulations to support the implementation of the Convention at national level; and that it also reinforce the heritage protection and management systems by establishing a special agency responsible for the protection and management of the World Heritage property and providing adequate human and financial resources for this agency.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.48
Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) (C 885)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Regrets that the State Party has not responded to the concerns, recommendations and requests formulated in previous Committee Decisions; that it has not provided detailed plans and documentation or Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) of the “State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city”; and that it has failed to halt works until the necessary assessments and reviews have been carried out;
  4. Takes note with deep concern of the report provided by the 2016 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, which observed that major interventions had been carried out to date in the framework of the State Programme, including the demolition and re-building activities that have brought about irreversible changes to the original appearance of large area within the historic centre of Shakhrisyabz, the setting of the architectural monuments and the overall historical town planning structure and layers;
  5. Also expresses its deep concern that the State Party has not complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decision 39 COM 7B.74, and that the aforementioned interventions already represent a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, notably its integrity and authenticity, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Decides to inscribe the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Urges the State Party to immediately suspend all tourism development and reconstruction projects within the property and in the adjacent areas, and requests, as a matter of priority, the State Party to:
    1. Immediately halt all demolition of traditional housing areas, pending the development of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), the elaboration and finalisation of appropriate conservation policies/guidelines and of the Management Plan, and the detailed review of large-scale urban planning schemes for Shakhrisyabz,
    2. Provide detailed documentation of the demolition and other works undertaken under the “Tourism Development and Reconstruction” projects,
    3. Reinforce national laws and regulations on the protection of cultural heritage, with a specific focus on World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan, and adopt bylaws/regulations to support the implementation of the Convention at national level,
    4. Reinforce the heritage protection and management system by establishing a special agency responsible for the protection and management of World Heritage property, and providing it with adequate human and financial resources;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite, as a matter of urgency, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in order to identify the precise threats to the OUV of the property, in collaboration with key national and international stakeholders, and to determine whether corrective measures and a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) can be defined, or whether the works undertaken so far have so irreversibly damaged the attributes that sustain the OUV of the property, notably its authenticity and integrity, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed and should therefore be considered for possible deletion from the World Heritage List at a later session;
  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.
40 COM 8C.1
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (inscribed sites)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC/16/40.COM/7B, WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add.2) and the proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC/16/40.COM/8B and WHC/16/40.COM/8B.Add),
  2. Decides to inscribe the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decisions 40 COM 7B.24 and 40 COM 7B.106)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 40 COM 7B.106)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 40 COM 7B.106)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of the Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 40 COM 7B.106)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of the Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decisions 40 COM 7B.25 and 40 COM 7B.106)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 40 COM 7B.13)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 40 COM 8B.22)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 40 COM 7B.48).
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.48

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.74, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Regrets that the State Party has not responded to the concerns, recommendations and requests formulated in previous Committee Decisions; that it has not provided detailed plans and documentation or Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) of the “State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisabz city”; and that it has failed to halt works until the necessary assessments and reviews have been carried out;
  4. Takes note with deep concern of the report provided by the 2016 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, which observed that major interventions had been carried out to date in the framework of the State Programme, including the demolition and re-building activities that have brought about irreversible changes to the original appearance of large area within the historic centre of Shakhrisyabz, the setting of the architectural monuments and the overall historical town planning structure and layers;
  5. Also expresses its deep concern that the State Party has not complied with the requests expressed by the Committee in Decision 39 COM 7B.74, and that the aforementioned interventions already represent a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, notably its integrity and authenticity, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines;
  6. Decides to inscribe the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Urges the State Party to immediately suspend all tourism development and reconstruction projects within the property and in the adjacent areas, and requests, as a matter of priority, the State Party to:
    1. Immediately halt all demolition of traditional housing areas, pending the development of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), the elaboration and finalisation of appropriate conservation policies/guidelines and of the Management Plan, and the detailed review of large-scale urban planning schemes for Shakhrisyabz,
    2. Provide detailed documentation of the demolition and other works undertaken under the “Tourism Development and Reconstruction” projects,
    3. Reinforce national laws and regulations on the protection of cultural heritage, with a specific focus on World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan, and adopt bylaws/regulations to support the implementation of the Convention at national level,
    4. Reinforce the heritage protection and management system by establishing a special agency responsible for the protection and management of World Heritage property, and providing it with adequate human and financial resources;
  8. Also requests the State Party to invite, as a matter of urgency, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in order to identify the precise threats to the OUV of the property, in collaboration with key national and international stakeholders, and to determine whether corrective measures and a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) can be defined, or whether the works undertaken so far have so irreversibly damaged the attributes that sustain the OUV of the property, notably its authenticity and integrity, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed and should therefore be considered for possible deletion from the World Heritage List at a later session;
  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.
Report year: 2016
Uzbekistan
Date of Inscription: 2000
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 2016-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
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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