1.         Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2012

Criteria  (iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2012-present

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

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

To be submitted according to http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2014-2016)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 723,000 from Italy (Emergency Action Plan 1997-1998; Conservation and Management Plan 2006-2010); USD 205,000 from the Government of Sweden for building rehabilitation

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

In January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents and which notes progress with corrective measures towards the achievement of the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and responds to decisions of the Committee as follows:

The State Party considers that the four agreed corrective measures have been completed and that the property has achieved the DSCOR, and requests that the property be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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

The conservation work at the Church of the Nativity and of the narthex is of a high technical standard, but details of the completed works to mosaics, plaster, architraves, and stone pillars, and proposed future works, should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

The need remains for a single synthetic document summarising analysis of the historical research and physical evidence revealed during conservation work, and the conclusions reached regarding the dates of particular building components, the justifications for the decisions made, and the precise work undertaken to minimize interventions to the historic fabric, especially the very earliest fabric. In view of the importance of the Church in relation to the early history of Christianity, a clear understanding of how its fabric relates to this history, and especially which parts are from the 6th century and which reflect later alterations, is crucial.

The integrated CMP submitted by the State Party has been reviewed by ICOMOS and is considered to be well organized and to demonstrate commitment to conservation of the property. However, some revisions and additions are required before the CMP can be finalized, including analysis of all values and attributes of OUV, planned projects and provisions for disaster risk management, in particular risks related to fire.

The proposed revival of Star Street and its branches is welcome, and it would be appropriate for information about this programme to be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies. The postponement of the Manger Square Tunnel and cancellation of the Manger Square Village project are welcome, given their potential impact on the property’s OUV. Should the Manger Square Tunnel project be re-activated, it would require further justification in relation to traffic management and urban mobility, as well as independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) coupled with thorough archaeological investigations.

The DSOCR is close to being achieved, as the roof of the Church of the Nativity has been conserved, and the corrective measures are nearly fully complete. However, the CMP should be completely finalized before the property is considered for removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.27

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.42, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the State Party on the implementation of high-standard conservation works which have occurred at the Church of the Nativity;
  4. Requests the State Party to submit details of the completed works to mosaics, plaster, architraves, and stone pillars, and proposed future works, including works to a sub-floor mosaic, paintings and stone floors, as well as proposals for the revival of Star Street and its branches, to the World Heritage Centre;
  5. Also reiterates its previous request to the State Party to submit a resume and analysis of all evidence revealed during the conservation work in order that there is a better understanding as to whether any material survives from the 6th century AD and, if not, to provide the dates of the surviving fabric;
  6. Notes that the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project has been postponed and that the ‘Manger Square Village’ has been cancelled and, should the ‘Manger Square Tunnel’ project proceed and also requests the State Party to prepare an independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and submit this to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, in line with the requirements of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible commitments are made;
  7. Commends the State Party for submitting the draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property in February 2018 and requests that it be revised in accordance with the comments and advice provided by ICOMOS, particularly to incorporate analysis of the values of the property, planned projects and provisions for disaster risk management in particular fire hazards;
  8. Also notes that, following finalization of the CMP for the property, it would be appropriate to consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Further 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;
  10. Decides to retain the Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 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/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: