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Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley

Afghanistan
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Civil unrest
  • Commercial development
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Other Threats:

    Risk of collapse of the Giant Buddha niches; Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Looting, illicit traffic and illegal excavations of cultural heritage assets(issue resolved)
  • Military Training (Continued inappropriate use of certain heritage areas for military posts) (issue resolved)
  • Anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordinances (i.e. munitions) (issue resolved)
  • Commercial development, Housing (Development pressure around the property and in the buffer zone)
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Others (Risk of collapse of the Giant Buddha niches; Irreversible deterioration of the mural paintings)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Site security not ensured
  • Long-term stability of the Giant Buddha niches not ensured
  • State of conservation of archaeological remains and mural paintings not adequate
  • Management Plan and Cultural Master Plan (the protective zoning plan) not implemented
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 7,324,120 (2003-2018) from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust; USD 159,000 (2011-2012) from the UNESCO/Switzerland Funds-in-Trust; USD 2,213,599 (2013-2019) from the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust; USD 7,336,166 (2013-2019) from UNESCO/Korea Funds-in Trust; USD 1,500,000 (2017-2026) from the Government of Afghanistan

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 1 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved : 30,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

November 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICCROM Advisory mission; April 2011: UNESCO Kabul/ICOMOS Advisory mission; May 2014 ICOMOS technical Advisory mission; UNESCO expert missions in the context of the implementation of specific projects

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 12 February 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/208/documents and which indicates the following:

  • The State Party and UNESCO started preliminary consolidation work on the Western Buddha Niche in August/September 2017, with funding from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust (JFiT). The scaffolding structure was reinforced, all the debris from the rear side of the niche was relocated, and painted plaster fragments were preserved. The work is expected to be completed within four years, but requires additional funding. A condition assessment of the remaining mural paintings located in caves throughout the Bamiyan Valley was conducted in July 2017, for the first time since 2010. Conservation work has continued for Shahr-i Ghulghulah with the support from UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust (FiT);
  • The deployment of eight on-site guards in each component of this serial property stopped in March 2017. Since April 2017, a deficit in the national budget prevented the authorities from renewing the relevant contracts;
  • An International Symposium “The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues: Technical Considerations and Potential Effects on Authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV) took place in Tokyo, Japan, from 27 to 29 September 2017, as part of the JFiT project, and brought together more than 70 attendees. The 14th Bamiyan Technical Working Group meeting took place from 1-2 October 2017 in Tokyo;
  • The Cultural Master Plan (CMP) provides a strong framework to regulate urban growth in and around the property. More than 700 members of the local community were consulted within the framework of the JFiT project, twice in 2017, to raise awareness about heritage management and to assess the level of integration between the CMP and the City Master Plan. The Afghan Ministry of Urban Development and Housing and the University of Florence are currently developing the Strategic Master Plan, which is to be finalized in 2018;
  • The increasing number of people returning to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries and a potential mining project in the Bamiyan province require close monitoring;
  • The construction of the Bamiyan Cultural Centre, funded by the UNESCO/Republic of Korea FiT, is expected to complete in 2018, with the financial contribution from Afghanistan to create a public park around the Cultural Centre;
  • The State Party reiterated its commitment to modify the boundaries of the property and to amend national legislation to protect the entire property and its surroundings.
  • The State Party did not submit a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures as requested by the Committee.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The State Party has undertaken a number of conservation and consultation activities in cooperation with UNESCO, international partners and local communities and stakeholders and it is to be commended. The 14th Bamiyan Technical Working Group meeting set the priorities for the activities from 2018 onwards.

Major progress was achieved in 2017 with the preliminary stabilization of the Western Buddha niche, as part of the JFiT project for the Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Valley. The project also contributed to assessing the condition of mural paintings in the main Buddha cliffs, in the Kakrak and Foladi Valleys. Additional funding is necessary to continue this work, which is an essential step towards achieving the adopted Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).

The International Symposium (see https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1733) provided a valuable opportunity for experts to debate technical and conceptual concerns related to the possible reconstruction of the Eastern Buddha statue. The conclusions of the symposium highlighted the need for further studies and debate and welcomed the establishment of a working committee in Afghanistan tasked with reviewing proposals for the Bamiyan Buddha statues. It should be noted that no specific and conclusive recommendation was made at the Symposium on the future treatment of the Bamiyan Buddha niches/statues. Participants to this Symposium considered that, prior to any consideration of possible future treatment of the Bamiyan Buddha niches, “extensive consultation be conducted by the local and national government with local communities, civil society, as well as spiritual leaders so as to ensure that all stakeholders’ interests are taken into consideration”.

The CMP is proving to be a reliable framework in managing historical areas in the Bamiyan Valley and in helping to regulate and prevent, at an early stage, projects and initiatives that could potentially threaten the property’s OUV. It also affords a meaningful consultation process between the authorities and local stakeholders. The State Party’s efforts to promote a closer synergy between this instrument, the Strategic Master Plan for Bamiyan (currently under elaboration) and the City Master Plan should be welcomed. Additionally, it should be noted that the various preservation activities and public consultations to establish the CMP have contributed to building national capacities for heritage preservation, while raising public awareness and inclusivity.

However, the State Party reports a persistent shortage of resources, relating to the need to secure additional budgets to implement future activities for the stabilization of the Western Buddha niche, to permanently hire on-site guards for all component of the property, and to conduct significant conservation activities. The disruption in the deployment of on-site guards since April 2017 is of concern. To date, almost all significant activities for the property have been realized through international assistance mechanisms, and while the existing financial constraints should not be underestimated, it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to prepare a long-term strategy to ensure that the necessary resources for the most important operations are reliably and continuously available.

Finally, the development of effective regulating mechanism to address future population growth and industrial developments in the vicinity of the property is vital. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its full support for the State Party to proceed with a boundary modification and to revise national legislation in order to enhance the permanent protection of heritage resources, and notably the cultural landscape in the Bamiyan Valley that currently is not within protected zones, and in its setting.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7A.1
Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) (C 208 rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.54 adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Notes with satisfaction the long-awaited launch, in the framework of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust (JFiT) project for the safeguarding of the Bamiyan Buddha Niches, of the technical works aiming at consolidating the Western Buddha niche, which also contributed to the adequate conservation of fragments from the niche and helped assess the conditions of remaining mural paintings in several cliffs throughout the Bamiyan Valley, and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a detailed technical report on the activities undertaken;
  4. Also notes that surveys were conducted at Shahr-i-Ghulghulah, with support from UNESCO and the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust, in order to establish a long-term plan for the conservation of historical monuments, and also requests the State Party to submit a detailed technical report on the research conducted and the plans made for the future conservation of this component;
  5. Welcoming the organization of the International Symposium “The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues: Technical Considerations and Potential Effects on Authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV), held in Tokyo in September 2017 as part of the UNESCO/Japan FiT project, acknowledges the Symposium’s recommendations, which notably invite the State Party and international partners to deepen the reflection on the possible reconstruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues; and further requests the State Party to conduct extensive consultation with local communities, civil society, as well as spiritual leaders and other stakeholders and to submit any selected proposals or options for review by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decision is made;
  6. Welcomes the organization of the 14th Bamiyan Technical Working Group meeting, held in December 2017, which set the priorities for future activities;
  7. Expresses its concern over lack of on-going resources which has led to disruption in the deployment of on-site guards since April 2017, and the absence of significant conservation efforts for several components of the property which are in imminent danger of collapse;
  8. Encourages the State Party to prepare a long-term strategy to ensure that the necessary resources for the most important operations are reliably and continuously available, taking into account the existing financial constraints;
  9. Calls upon the international community to provide technical and financial support, notably to other components of the serial property in the Bamiyan Valley, such as Shahr-i-Zohak, Kakrak and Fuladi Valleys, in order to assist the State Party in reaching the adopted Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  10. Further notes that the Cultural Master Plan is used as a tool to protect the OUV of the property, in consultation with national and local stakeholders, and further welcomes the State Party’s efforts to promote a closer synergy between this instrument, the upcoming Strategic Master Plan for Bamiyan and the City Master Plan;
  11. Noting nevertheless that industrial development and uncontrolled urban growth in the buffer zone could represent a potential threat to conservation in the future, requests moreover that the State Party closely monitor these activities within the framework of the implementation of the CMP and supports the State Party’s commitment to proceed with a boundary modification and the revision of national legislation, in an effort to enhance the permanent protection of heritage resources, notably the cultural landscape of the Bamiyan Valley that is not currently included in protected zones and its setting;
  12. Encourages the State Party to continue capitalizing on various capacity-building activities for national heritage experts by encouraging their participation in international projects, which also strengthens national and local capacities for heritage conservation and management, notably by developing the local communities’ capacity to contribute to the safeguarding of the property;
  13. Notes with concern that little progress has been achieved with the implementation of corrective measures due to the lack of human and financial resources, and urges again the State Party to review, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies;
  14. Finally 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, including a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  15. Decides to retain the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
42 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 42 COM 7A.1)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 42 COM 7A.2)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 42 COM 7A.5)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 42 COM 7A.8)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.45)
  • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 42 COM 7A.9)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.46)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.47)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.48)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.49)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.50)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.51)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 42 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.44)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.40)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 42 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 42 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 42 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 42 COM 7A.21)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 42 COM 7A.22)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 42 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 42 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 42 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 42 COM 7A.26)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 42 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 42 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 42 COM 7A.14)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 42 COM 7A.15)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 42 COM 7A.3)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 42 COM 7A.54)
  • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 42 COM 7A.27)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 42 COM 7A.29)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 42 COM 7A.28)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 42 COM 7A.10)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 42 COM 7A.11)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.55)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 42 COM 7A.6)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 42 COM 7A.41)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 42 COM 7A.30)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 42 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 42 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 42 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 42 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 42 COM 7A.35)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 42 COM 7A.16)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 42 COM 7A.7)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 42 COM 7A.56)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 42 COM 7A.42)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 42 COM 7A.4)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 42 COM 7A.12)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 42 COM 7A.37)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 42 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 42 COM 7A.39)
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7A.1

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.54 adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Notes with satisfaction the long-awaited launch, in the framework of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust (JFiT) project for the safeguarding of the Bamiyan Buddha Niches, of the technical works aiming at consolidating the Western Buddha niche, which also contributed to the adequate conservation of fragments from the niche and helped assess the conditions of remaining mural paintings in several cliffs throughout the Bamiyan Valley, and requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a detailed technical report on the activities undertaken;
  4. Also notes that surveys were conducted at Shahr-i-Ghulghulah, with support from UNESCO and the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust, in order to establish a long-term plan for the conservation of historical monuments, and also requests the State Party to submit a detailed technical report on the research conducted and the plans made for the future conservation of this component;
  5. Welcoming the organization of the International Symposium “The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues: Technical Considerations and Potential Effects on Authenticity and Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV), held in Tokyo in September 2017 as part of the UNESCO/Japan FiT project, acknowledges the Symposium’s recommendations, which notably invite the State Party and international partners to deepen the reflection on the possible reconstruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues; and further requests the State Party to conduct extensive consultation with local communities, civil society, as well as spiritual leaders and other stakeholders and to submit any selected proposals or options for review by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decision is made;
  6. Welcomes the organization of the 14th Bamiyan Technical Working Group meeting, held in December 2017, which set the priorities for future activities;
  7. Expresses its concern over lack of on-going resources which has led to disruption in the deployment of on-site guards since April 2017, and the absence of significant conservation efforts for several components of the property which are in imminent danger of collapse;
  8. Encourages the State Party to prepare a long-term strategy to ensure that the necessary resources for the most important operations are reliably and continuously available, taking into account the existing financial constraints;
  9. Calls upon the international community to provide technical and financial support, notably to other components of the serial property in the Bamiyan Valley, such as Shahr-i-Zohak, Kakrak and Fuladi Valleys, in order to assist the State Party in reaching the adopted Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  10. Further notes that the Cultural Master Plan is used as a tool to protect the OUV of the property, in consultation with national and local stakeholders, and further welcomes the State Party’s efforts to promote a closer synergy between this instrument, the upcoming Strategic Master Plan for Bamiyan and the City Master Plan;
  11. Noting nevertheless that industrial development and uncontrolled urban growth in the buffer zone could represent a potential threat to conservation in the future, requests moreover that the State Party closely monitor these activities within the framework of the implementation of the CMP and supports the State Party’s commitment to proceed with a boundary modification and the revision of national legislation, in an effort to enhance the permanent protection of heritage resources, notably the cultural landscape of the Bamiyan Valley that is not currently included in protected zones and its setting;
  12. Encourages the State Party to continue capitalizing on various capacity-building activities for national heritage experts by encouraging their participation in international projects, which also strengthens national and local capacities for heritage conservation and management, notably by developing the local communities’ capacity to contribute to the safeguarding of the property;
  13. Notes with concern that little progress has been achieved with the implementation of corrective measures due to the lack of human and financial resources, and urges again the State Party to review, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies;
  14. Finally 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, including a revised timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  15. Decides to retain Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Afghanistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2018
Afghanistan
Date of Inscription: 2003
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2003-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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