Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2000
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/885/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
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
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/
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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
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:
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.
Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.48
The World Heritage Committee,
Decision Adopted: 40 COM 8C.1
The World Heritage Committee,