1.         Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a) (Jordan) (C 1093)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2004

Criteria  (i)(iv)(vi)

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/1093/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2007-2009)
Total amount approved: USD 34,750
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1093/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 6,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust

Previous monitoring missions

March-April 2005: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS mission; March 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; July 2008: World Heritage Centre expert mission for the Stylite tower

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1093/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 16 March 2018, the State Party submitted a Management Plan for Um er-Rasas, including a section on the state of conservation of the property, based on a rapid assessment carried out in 2015. On 4 April 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1093/documents/, which responds to the requests made by the Committee at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017), and provides information on the following:

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

ICOMOS assessed the Management Plan submitted by the State Party through a technical review in April 2018. It is reassuring to see a good planning document containing nuanced analysis of the management system and conservation conditions at Um er-Rasas. It aims at providing better coordination between the government bodies involved and to improve site management as it is implemented. It is hoped that the actions proposed are all taken forward. Indeed, the State Party has reported that the implementation of the Plan has already begun.

The information contained in the Management Plan is much more detailed regarding the property’s conservation than the short state of conservation report submitted in April 2018, and shows that much conservation work needs to be carried out with some urgency, although it also notes that annual work programmes for conservation are foreseen, which should already be planned or will be launched in the near future.

Of particular significance in this context are the proposed conservation measures at the Stylite Tower, for which the Committee has been requesting further details since 2009. Although it is noted that monitoring and preventive conservation actions are ongoing, given the importance of the Tower for the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), it is of concern that the revised project is not yet ready. The Management Plan states that both the Castrum fortifications and the Stylite Tower are in a ‘precarious state of conservation’ and that the Tower’s upper chamber is in danger of collapse. In addition, it notes that, while most attention is given to the Tower and St Stephen’s Complex in terms of maintenance and preventive conservation, this is at the expense of other areas in the property, which are also suffering.

It would therefore appear urgent that conservation interventions take place as soon as possible to avoid the risk of losing some key attributes of the property. Emergency consolidation works should take place immediately, in parallel to the longer-term conservation planning that is taking place in the context of the ongoing management planning process.

It is also noted that the Management Plan describes an evolving situation regarding the property’s boundaries and its buffer zone, which have changed since inscription and may be subject to further changes due to a land acquisition campaign by the State Party. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to clarify this situation and to submit a minor boundary modification at its 44th session in 2020 for its approval.

Finally, the World Heritage Committee requested that the Management Plan include a comprehensive conservation plan, an archaeological research policy, and a Public Use Plan. This has not been fully addressed and each of these complex areas merits full treatment in a dedicated report. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide these additional plans.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.55

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party for the submission of the Management Plan for the property; and invites it to submit the requested complementary documentation: a comprehensive conservation plan and archaeological research policy, and a Public Use Plan;
  4. Expresses concern over the lack of completion of urgent conservation work across the property, with particular attention given to the Stylite Tower and the Castrum Fortification and urges the State Party to undertake all needed temporary and reversible consolidation interventions of the fragile attributes in the property and submit the final conservation projects to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, and encourages the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission to support the finalization of such projects if deemed necessary;
  5. Requests the State Party to update the definition of the property’s boundaries and its buffer zone; and to submit it as a formal Minor Boundary Modification, in accordance with Paragraphs 163 and 164 of the Operational Guidelines, to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation by the Advisory Bodies and adoption by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019.