1.         Ancient City of Bosra (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 22bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1980

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2013-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Destruction as well as ascertained and potential threats consequent to the armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/22/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 51,250
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/22/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the six Syrian World Heritage properties:2.46 million Euros by the European Union (for World Heritage, movable and intangible heritage); USD 200,000 by the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Bahrain (for cultural heritage under conflict); USD 170,000 by the Flemish Government (for World Heritage, movable and intangible heritage); 63,000 Euros by the Government of Austria (for World Heritage, movable and intangible heritage)

Previous monitoring missions

Since the start of the conflict in March 2011, the security situation has not allowed any missions to be undertaken at this World Heritage property

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Since March 2011:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/22/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 18 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the six Syrian World Heritage properties, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/22/documents/.

The State Party reports no damage to the site in 2016. It reports that the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) is in regular contact with the Bosra Antiquities and the local communities for the safeguarding of the site. The Bosra Antiquities is monitoring of the state of conservation of the site.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

See General Decision 41 COM 50 of this Document on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic.

No further damage was reported to the property since one year. It is recommended that the Committee encourage all parties to pursue their cooperation for ensuring the respect of a ceasefire within the property and to acknowledge the efforts of the local communities to protect the property despite the very difficult circumstances.

It is important to adress emergency needs and plan first aid measures at the property. A technical meeting that was foreseen to take place in October 2016 has been postponed.

It is proposed to undertake a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to proceed to a comprehensive assessment of its state of conservation and identify measures needed to reverse the decay and ensure the conservation and protection of the property, as soon as the security situation allows.

The State Party submitted a minor boundary modification proposal, which was reviewed by ICOMOS and will be examined by the Committee at its 41st session (see Document WHC/17/41.COM/8B.Add).


General Decision on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic

The armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011 and has constantly escalated leading to significant violence and degradation of humanitarian conditions. It continues to inflict damage on the inscribed properties as well as on the 12 sites inscribed on the Tentative List. Sites continue to be damaged by shelling, street fighting, underground explosions, extensive illegal excavations, military use, construction violations, quarrying, in addition to intentional destructions and inappropriate use of archaeological sites by internally displaced populations. 

On 18 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/41COM/documents, with detailed information on the destruction and damage at the six World Heritage properties. This report represents an official statement from the Syrian authorities and collates available information from the branches of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and from the local communities up to 31 December 2016. The State Party notes that as ground access in Syria for heritage experts is limited the full extent of the damage to World Heritage properties cannot be assessed in detail. Therefore, the report do not provide first-hand information on all sites, and thus do not allow a full understanding of the extent of damage to the properties.

The State Party reported on the actions carried out by the DGAM, despite the difficult working conditions, to monitor the World Heritage properties and cultural heritage in general, assess damages, undertake emergency conservation and risk mitigation actions whenever possible, and inventory built and movable heritage. The report also stressed the DGAM efforts in maintaining salaries for its staff in the inaccessible regions (Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, Ancient City of Bosra), and highlighted the positive role played by local communities in some cases to safeguard heritage and limit illegal excavations.

On 9 April 2017, the State Party provided updated information on the conservation of the sites inscribed on the Tentative List, which indicates the following:

Activities undertaken by UNESCO

The UNESCO Office in Beirut undertook a Rapid Assessment mission to the Ancient City of Aleppo on 16-19 January 2017, together with the UN Resident Coordinator and the DGAM. The mission confirmed the extent of damages in the accessible areas of the property, as well as the state of educational institutions in the city and identified urgent and short term needs;

Activities undertaken by the Advisory Bodies




The armed conflict situation in Syria and its continued escalation has affected the six World Heritage properties and has substantially limited capacities to adequately sustain and protect their OUV. The properties have been increasingly threatened by ascertained and potential dangers, in particular the Ancient City of Aleppo, which has been extensively and increasingly destroyed, and which runs the risk of further irreversible destructions during the challenging recovery phase. From 11 December 2016 to 2 March 2017, Palmyra fell back under the control of extremist armed groups who inflicted additional invaluable damage to the property.

The illegal excavations across archaeological sites and tells in Syria are a major source for the illicit trafficking of cultural objects and are causing extensive and irreversible damages to those sites, many of which are on Syria’s Tentative List, as well as providing looted artifacts for sale in regional and international black markets.

It is recommended that the Committee commend the DGAM, heritage professionals in Syria and local communities who have made sustained efforts to protect cultural heritage and to monitor it closely.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will continue to support the State Party in the identification of the necessary corrective measures and in the development of a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the situation allows.

It is important that humanitarian and security actions be done in coordination with cultural heritage stakeholders, to avoid further irreversible damages to the properties, and allow for undertaking first aid measures for its cultural heritage. Furthermore, it is recommended that systematic documentation of all damage incurred at the World Heritage properties be duly pursued, whenever the situation allows, and that the Committee reiterate its call to the State Party to safeguard damaged properties through minimal first aid interventions to prevent theft, further collapse and natural degradation, and refrain from undertaking other measures until the situation allows for the development of a comprehensive strategy and action plan that respond to international standards and high-quality scientific methods.

With regard to post-conflict interventions, it is recommended that the Committee call on the State Party to plan the future of the World Heritage properties according to international conservation charters and standards, in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

It is recommended that the Committee call for international and national heritage professionals to continue to unite for the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural heritage; and to further support its safeguarding through earmarked funds and to contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund.

Until conditions improve, it is also recommended that the Committee urge all parties associated with the conflict in Syria to refrain from any action that can further damage the heritage of the country, in particular World Heritage properties and all sites included on the Tentative List, and to fulfill their obligations under international law, and in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, in part by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage including the evacuation of World Heritage properties used for military purposes, and the halting of all damages that result from targeting World Heritage properties. It is also recommended that the Committee reiterate its suggestion that the State Party consider ratifying the Second Protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage during times of Armed Conflict.

It is further recommended that the Committee also call upon all parties associated with the conflict in Syria and the international community, in particular the neighbouring countries to Syria, to ensure effective measures for the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2199.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.45

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7A.12, 39 COM 7A.36 and 40 COM 7A.17, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
  3. Taking into account the State Party’s submission of a minor boundary modification proposal for the property, Decision 41 COM 7A.50 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic and Document WHC/17/41.COM/8B.Add,
  4. Encourages all parties to pursue their cooperation for ensuring the respect of a ceasefire within the property;
  5. Acknowledges the efforts of the local communities to protect the property despite the very difficult circumstances;
  6. Calls on all UNESCO Member States to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  7. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to proceed to a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property and identify measures needed to reverse the decay and ensure the conservation and protection of the property, as soon as the security situation allows;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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;
  9. Decides to retain the Ancient City of Bosra (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.50

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 7A.12, 39 COM 7A.36 and 40 COM 7A.17, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
  3. Deplores the conflict situation prevailing in the country, the loss of human life and the degradation of humanitarian conditions;
  4. Taking note of the reports provided by the State Party regarding the state of conservation of the six Syrian World Heritage properties and of the sites inscribed on the Syrian Tentative List, commends the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and all the heritage professionals and the local communities in Syria who are working on monitoring and protecting cultural heritage for their sustained efforts amidst extremely difficult conditions, but expresses its utmost concern at the damage occurred and the threats facing these properties and cultural heritage in general;
  5. Urges all parties associated with the situation in Syria to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural heritage of the country and to fulfil their obligations under international law, and in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, including the halting of all damages that result from targeting World Heritage properties, sites included in the Tentative List and other cultural heritage sites;
  6. Also urges the State Party to adopt measures for the evacuation of World Heritage properties being used for military purposes;
  7. Further urges the State Party and the international community to include recovery actions within the properties to the overall humanitarian, security and peace building response;
  8. Urges furthermore the State Party to safeguard damaged properties through minimal first aid interventions to prevent theft, further collapse and natural degradation, and to refrain from undertaking conservation and restoration work until the situation allows, for the development of comprehensive conservation strategies and actions that respond to international standards in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Requests the State Party to pursue the systematic documentation of all damage incurred by the World Heritage properties, whenever conditions allow, and to implement all possible risk mitigation measures, to inform on the development of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and the identification of corrective measures for all six properties;
  10. Launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in fighting against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Syria as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 of February 2015, and in engaging in the protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, and reiterates its suggestion to the State Party to consider ratifying the Second Protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage during times of Armed Conflict;
  11. Insists on the importance of ensuring that there be effective coordination of all efforts with a view to restoring, reconstructing, and conserving the cultural heritage of Syria with the effective participation of UNESCO ;
  12. Calls upon the international community to further support the safeguarding of Syrian cultural heritage through earmarked funds or through contribution to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  13. Also calls upon the international and national cultural heritage professionals to unite for the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural heritage, and pursue their ongoing initiatives in coordination with UNESCO;
  14. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the properties and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8B.39

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/17/41.COM/8B.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/INF.8B1.Add,
  2. Approves the proposed minor modification to the boundaries and the proposed buffer zone of the Ancient City of Bosra, Syrian Arab Republic;
  3. Pending the improvement in the situation of conflict that has affected this property, recommends that the State Party take the following actions to further support its protection and management:
    1. Develop clear objectives for the buffer zone and provide more precise regulations concerning the heights of buildings in the buffer zone, particularly in Zones 1, 2 and 4,
    2. Develop the Management Plan for the entire property and its buffer zone, taking into account the challenges of potential post-war reconstruction,
    3. Promulgate and implement the revised Antiquities Law (Law of Syrian Cultural Heritage) as soon as possible,
    4. Continue to improve the understanding and protection of the ancient water supply system.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8D

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/8D,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 8D, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Acknowledges the excellent work accomplished by States Parties in the clarification of the boundaries of their World Heritage properties and commends them for their efforts to improve the credibility of the World Heritage List;
  4. Recalls that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are not able to examine proposals for minor or significant modifications to boundaries of World Heritage properties whenever the delimitations of such properties as inscribed remain unclear;
  5. Takes note of the clarifications of property boundaries and areas provided by the States Parties as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/17/41.COM/8D:

    AFRICA

    • Seychelles, Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve

    ARAB STATES

    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra

    EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

    • Canada, Old Town Lunenburg
    • Russian Federation, Architectural Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad
    • Sweden, Church Town of Gammelstad, Luleå
    • Sweden, Laponian Area
    • Sweden, Naval Port of Karlskrona

    LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

    • Honduras, Maya Site of Copan;

  6. Requests the States Parties which have not yet answered the questions raised in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory to provide all clarifications and documentation as soon as possible, and by 1 December 2017 at the latest, for their subsequent examination, if the technical requirements are met, at the 42nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2018.