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Ancient City of Damascus

Syrian Arab Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • War
  • Other Threats:

    fire

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Before the conflict:

  • Society valuing of heritage (Poor state of conservation)
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system (Inappropriate restoration techniques)
  • Legal framework (Lack of a buffer zone) (issue resolved)
  • Management System/Management Plan (Lack of a management plan)
  • Housing (Development projects threatening the emblematic historic fabric)
  • Ground transport infrastructure (Development projects threatening the emblematic historic fabric) (issue resolved)

Since March 2011:

  • War (Damage due to the armed conflict)
  • Other factors (Fire due to an electrical incident at al-Asrooniya and elsewhere in the property)
  • Management activities (Lack of maintenance of the sewage system due to the conflict)
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

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

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Corrective Measures for the property

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Drafted; proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted to the property: USD 10,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust.
Total amount provided to the six Syrian World Heritage properties: 200,000 Euros by the Italian Government; for movable and intangible heritage: 2.46 million Euros by the European Union, USD 170,000 by the Flemish Government, 63,000 Euros by the Austrian Government, USD 200,000 by the German Government; for cultural heritage under conflict: USD 200,000 by the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Bahrain

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 7 (from 1981-2020)
Total amount approved : 186,050 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

March and December 2007: World Heritage Centre missions for the King Faisal Street project; April 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission. April 2016: World Heritage Centre Rapid Assessment mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 15 January 2020 and 7 January 2021, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the six Syrian World Heritage properties, which are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/20/documents/, and include updated information on progress and challenges in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee, as follows:

  • On 2 February 2019, a 10x5m portion of the outer ancient city wall in the area between Bab al-Salam and Bab Touma collapsed, owing to the lack of proper maintenance and water leakage from a damaged sewerage network. In October 2020, Emergency Assistance was provided under the World Heritage Fund for ‘Safeguarding the Damascus Ancient City Wall and the Adjacent Urban Fabric’. The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) has been documenting the area of Bab al-Salam and Bab Touma, assessing damage and threats, including through exploration trenches and using 3D documentation. The team has also sorted, analysed and stored the stones of the collapsed section of the wall for use in its restoration;
  • The DGAM continued to implement the 2013 Emergency Response Plan and reported a substantial reduction of fire incidents. Nevertheless, several fires broke out in 2019 within the buffer zone of the property, showing that the threat remains;
  • The use of inadequate building materials, arising from the lack and high cost of traditional building materials and lack of specialized professional labour, remains a major issue;
  • Despite numerous difficulties, the security situation in the city has enabled progress with the management plan. Consultation with local communities is being carried out and a temporary restriction of car circulation in the property is being trialled. Cooperation with the relevant stakeholders on the documentation and preservation of historical buildings is ongoing;
  • Concerning the “Ottoman Bank”, a progress report was submitted in the framework of the elaboration of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) initiated with the World Heritage Centre with the Advisory Bodies. Although restoration of the Ottoman Bank has been initiated, the DGAM continues to face difficulties in controlling the work, owing to the lack of funding and divergences among stakeholders. A number of other documents were provided as well, notably the stakeholders’ common database of available documentation for historic buildings;
  • On a general note, conservation works have resumed at the property according to the availability of resources. The State Party considers that the threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger are no longer applicable and has invited a Reactive Monitoring mission to assess the implementation of the necessary corrective measures for the removal of the property from this List.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

See General Decision 44 COM 24 of this Document on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The efforts of the State Party to implement the 2013 Emergency Response Plan have reduced the number of fire incidents within the property, which is a positive development that should be maintained. Nevertheless, analysing and addressing reasons behind fires, as previously requested by the Committee, remains necessary.

It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to scale-up efforts to ensure that traditional restoration techniques and materials are used, in order to address cumulative potential threats to the authenticity of the property. This could be achieved by strengthening actions for the establishment of the Centre for the traditional production of building materials, as reported in 2019, as well as through the training of specialized labour and the enforcement of licensing regulations. 

Despite the difficult financial situation, the State Party has resumed documentation, conservation and management activities. The Emergency Assistance support has facilitated documentation work for the ancient city wall and surrounding urban fabric, aiming at identifying the reasons behind the collapse of the wall in order to minimize risks and plan for restoration. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to also seek international support for continuing the work towards the elaboration of the management plan for the property. The Management Plan remains crucial to inform restoration decisions and ensure coordination among stakeholders.

It is also recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to continue implementing all of the recommendations of the 2016 UNESCO First Aid Support Meeting and the 2016 UNESCO Technical Assistance Workshop, including in the rehabilitation of the “Ottoman Bank”. In particular, interior partitions in the central courtyard of the upper floor are to be avoided, as recommended by the UNESCO experts.

Within the framework of the Italian funded project on “Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Protection in Syria and in the Ancient City of Bosra in particular as a follow up to the World Heritage Committee Decisions”, a Technical Assistance workshop was initially organized in Beirut in October 2019 to address the conservation and management of several World Heritage properties in Syria, including the Ancient City of Damascus. It was planned to assess on-going emergency interventions undertaken by DGAM, to provide advice on the development of the management plan and the conservation of the collapsed city wall, and to initiate elaboration of the DSOCR. However, because of the prevailing security situation in Lebanon at the time, the workshop could not take place as planned. The workshop was rescheduled for March 2020 in Amman (Jordan), but could not take place due to the prevailing sanitary conditions restricting travel and meetings. Nevertheless, work on the DSOCR has been initiated remotely through the close collaboration of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS, ICCROM and the DGAM. Three online meetings, organized on 19 November 2020, 15 February and 3 May 2021, as well as substantial follow up, allowed the work to progress in this regard. The proposed DSOCR, corrective measures, and a timeframe for implementation have been established, and are recommended for adoption.

Given the progress achieved in resuming regular conservation and management work at the property, including the restoration of the “Ottoman Bank” historical building, it remains crucial that the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission take place as soon as the situation allows, to enable a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property.




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

Current conservation issues

The armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011 and escalated leading to significant violence and degradation of humanitarian conditions. It has inflicted damage on the inscribed properties as well as on the 12 sites inscribed on the Tentative List. Sites have been damaged by shelling, fires, extensive illegal excavations, military use, construction violations, in addition to intentional targeted destruction of cultural property by armed groups, and inappropriate use of archaeological sites by internally displaced populations. Some sites remain at risk as a result of the conflict.

On 15 January 2020 and 7 January 2021, the State Party submitted state of conservation reports, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/44COM/documents/#state_of_conservation_reports. These reports represent official statements by the Syrian authorities and collate available information from the various branches of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) up to 31 December 2020. In some areas, access to heritage sites is extremely limited. In particular, the property of the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria remains inaccessible, preventing full understanding of the extent of damage to this site and reliance on third party documentation.

The State Party has reported on actions carried out by the DGAM, despite the difficult working conditions. These comprise monitoring World Heritage properties and cultural heritage in general, and assessing damage, including some very detailed reporting for the Ancient City of Bosra, the Ancient City of Aleppo, and the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din. Emergency conservation and risk mitigation actions have occurred whenever possible as well as restoration and reconstruction activities, in particular at the properties of the Ancient City of Aleppo, and the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din. At the site of the Ancient City of Damascus, which suffered to a lesser extent as a result of the conflict, the State Party has resumed regular conservation and management activities, in parallel to the emergency works undertaken at the ancient city wall. The State Party reports emphasise that the reasons for which the Ancient City of Damascus and the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List in Danger no longer apply. The reports also stress the extreme financial difficulties that the DGAM is facing in its efforts to ensure the preservation of cultural heritage, in addition to the limited international funding provided to support these efforts.

Updated information on the conservation of sites inscribed on the Tentative List was also provided in the report, indicating the following:

  • At the sites of the ‘Arwad Island’, ‘Maaloula’ ‘Noreas of Hama’, ‘Tartus: The Crusaders Citadel-City’ and ‘Ugrarit (Tell Shamra)’ restoration and maintenance works are being undertaken. In particular, in Maaloula, local communities are being consulted in view of the elaboration of a nomination file for the site. At Arwad Island, no new development concerning the tourism project has been reported;
  • Access to the sites ‘Apamea (Afamia)’, ‘Mari (Tell Hariri) and Dura Europos’ and ‘Qasr al-Hayr ach-Charqi, a Desert Castle’ is still limited owing to the presence of landmines;
  • Drone images were taken for ‘Dura Europos’ and ‘Qasr al-Hayr ach-Charqi, a Desert Castle’ in September 2019, ‘Mari (Tell Hariri)’ in September 2019 and October 2020, and ‘Ebla (Tell Mardikh)’ in May 2020, confirming extensive looting and damage;
  • No information could be reported for the site of ‘Raqqa-Rafiqa and The Abbasid City’.

The report highlights requests by the DGAM for technical support for updating the Syrian Tentative List, initiating the process of nomination for the site of ‘Maaloula’, and carrying out assessment surveys at the sites of ‘Apamea (Afamia)’, ‘Mari (Tell Hariri) and Dura Europos’ and ‘Qasr al-Hayr ach-Charqi, a desert Castle’.

Activities undertaken by UNESCO

  • Since the 43rd session of the Committee (Baku, 2019), UNESCO has pursued actions to assist sustained efforts to safeguard cultural heritage of Syria;
  • At the international level, UNESCO continues to raise awareness of the international community on the destruction of cultural heritage of Syria, in the framework of the implementation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2199 (February 2015) and Resolution 2347 (March 2017) recognizing the importance of heritage protection for peace and security;
  • At the national level, UNESCO has monitored the situation of Syrian cultural heritage, raised awareness on its protection, undertaken actions to safeguard it, and coordinated work of national and international entities;
  • The UNESCO-UNITAR joint publication “Five years of Conflict: the State of Cultural Heritage in the Ancient City of Aleppo” launched in November 2018 has been translated into Arabic and French, and is available at https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000265826;
  • Another joint publication with UNITAR “Ten Years of Conflict: the State of Conservation of cultural heritage in Syria” is under preparation, with funding support from the States Parties of Germany and Norway. It is planned to be launched in 2021;
  • The World Heritage Centre, with the support of the State Party of the Netherlands, organized a Technical Meeting on the Recovery of the World Heritage Site of Palmyra on 18 December 2019 at UNESCO Headquarters, which was attended by over 30 international experts. This meeting focused on issues of reconstruction and recovery at the property, and a number of recommendations were agreed (see https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/2133);
  • An International Assistance request has been approved for Qal’at Salah El-Din (March 2020). This assistance will facilitate systematic documentation of damage incurred at Qal’at Salah El-Din, implementation of risk mitigation measures, and elaboration of a conservation Management and Master Plan for the site and its surroundings. The International Assistance request approved for the Crac des Chevaliers in January 2019 is still under implementation;
  • An Emergency International Assistance request has been approved for Safeguarding the Damascus Ancient City Wall and the Adjacent Urban Fabric (the area between Bab al-Salam and Bab Touma). This assistance facilitates documentation work, the implementation of risk mitigation measures, and the elaboration of a restoration project for the collapsed portion of the wall.

In the framework of the Italian Funds-in-Trust project entitled “Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Protection in Syria, and in the Ancient City of Bosra in particular as a follow up to the World Heritage Committee Decisions” (200 000 Euros), a technical assistance workshop was initially organized in Beirut in October 2019, in order to assess ongoing emergency interventions undertaken by the DGAM at the Ancient City of Bosra, the Ancient City of Damascus and at the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din. The meeting was also intended to provide advice on recovery interventions, and to initiate elaboration of the Desired State of Conservation for the Removal of the properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). Owing to the prevailing security situation in Lebanon at the time, the workshop could not take place, so it was rescheduled for March 2020 in Amman (Jordan), but again could not take place because of the prevailing sanitary conditions restricting travel and meetings. The workshop will still take place as soon as health conditions allow. Nevertheless, initial work on DSOCRs for some of the Syrian World Heritage properties was initiated remotely, through exchanges between the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and the DGAM. Online meetings were organized on 19 November 2020, 15 February and 3 May 2021. The DSCOR for the Ancient City of Damascus was finalized in May 2021, and the process is regarded as a successful ‘pilot project’ for proceeding with the implementation of the DSOCR process in circumstances when a Reactive Monitoring mission is not possible.

Activities undertaken by the Advisory Bodies

ICOMOS has actively participated in the above ‘pilot project’ to devise the document for the DSOCR of the Ancient City of Damascus and related corrective measures. Although this process has facilitated the preparation of the DSOCR, it remains desirable that a Reactive Monitoring mission take place as soon as circumstances allow. ICOMOS has also participated in preliminary steps to follow a similar approach for Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din, and it is expected that preliminary work on the DSOCR for the Ancient City of Bosra and for the Site of Palmyra will be initiated subsequently.

ICOMOS made presentations on Syrian heritage in the context of several meetings, as follows: Conference on "Reconstruction and Recovery of Towns after war damage in the different parts of the world. Theory, methodology, practice", International Committee on Historic Cities, Towns and Villages (CIVVIH), September 2019 (Poland); “Bouncing back after the drama: heritage and resilience" Institut National du Patrimoine Blue Shield France, January 2020 (France); “Private actors/institutional actors, which mission, which methods?" Institut National du Patrimoine – École du Louvre, February 2021 (France); "A Hundred/Thousand Years: Genealogies and Perspectives of the National Museum of Damascus", Institut national d'histoire de l'art, April 2021 (France).

ICOMOS members also contributed to the publication “After Hour Zero – learning from post-war experiences for Syria? Preservation of historical monuments, archaeology and urban planning as an international task)", German Archaeology Institute (DAI), November 2019 (Germany).

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

The situation of armed conflict in Syria has affected the six World Heritage properties and has substantially limited capacities to sustain and protect their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The properties have been increasingly threatened by ascertained and potential dangers.

Illegal excavations across archaeological sites and tels in Syria are causing extensive and irreversible damage to those sites, a number of which are on Syria’s Tentative List. They are also a major source for the illicit trafficking of cultural property, providing looted artifacts to be sold 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 in monitoring and protecting cultural heritage, and implementing first aid measures for its safeguarding, despite the very difficult situation.

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 DSOCRs, and have been successfully pursuing more flexible approaches and online engagement that have demonstrated that the preparation of DSOCRs can be progressed, despite the current circumstances and inability to schedule Reactive monitoring missions at this time.

It is important that humanitarian and security related actions be carried out 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 World Heritage properties be pursued, whenever the situation allows, and that the Committee reiterate its call to the State Party to continue to safeguard damaged properties through minimal first aid interventions to prevent theft, further collapse and natural degradation, and to 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.

It is recommended that the Committee further encourage the State Party to plan for 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, also taking into consideration the 2018 Warsaw Recommendation on Recovery and Reconstruction. It is also appropriate to remind the State Party of its obligation to transmit to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, detailed information on future projects, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

It is recommended that the Committee also 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 contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund.

Until conditions improve, it is recommended that the Committee repeat its previous call for all parties associated with the conflict in Syria to refrain from any action that could further damage the heritage of the country, in particular all World Heritage properties and sites included on the Tentative List, and to fulfil their obligations under international law, especially the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, in part by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage and preventing any damage that may result from targeting World Heritage properties, and support recovery plans that are based on community participation, sustainability and inclusion.

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 Property in the Event 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 countries neighboring Syria, to ensure effective measures for the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2199.

 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7A.20
Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 20bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 43 COM 7A.33 and 43 COM 7A.37, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Taking into account Decision 44 COM 7A.24 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic,
  4. Expresses its concern about the collapse of a portion of the outer ancient city wall of the Ancient City of Damascus, in the area between Bab al-Salam and Bab Touma, and takes note of the documentation and emergency work undertaken in the framework of the Emergency Assistance approved in October 2020, to identify and address the reasons behind the collapse in order to minimize risks;
  5. Welcomes the positive results achieved by the State Party in reducing the number of fire incidents within the property through the effective implementation of the 2013 Emergency Response Plan and encourages the State Party to further pursue these efforts and to analyse the reasons behind the fires;
  6. Also encourages the State Party to scale-up efforts towards the use of traditional construction techniques and materials for restoration works, by strengthening the actions for the establishment of the Centre for the traditional production of building materials reported to have been established in 2019, as well as through the training of specialized labour and the enforcement of licensing regulations, in order to address cumulative potential threats to the authenticity of the property;
  7. Further encourages the State Party to continue implementing the recommendations of the 2016 UNESCO First Aid Support Meeting and the 2016 UNESCO Technical Assistance Workshop, and to pursue its efforts towards the development of a Management Plan for the property and to consider applying for an International Assistance request to this end;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by ICOMOS, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, information on any proposed reconstruction and restoration projects within the property before any irreversible decisions are made;
  9. Reiterates the need for the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to be carried out as soon as the situation allows, in order to enable a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property;
  10. Takes note with satisfaction of the works undertaken by the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for the elaboration of a set of correctives measures and the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  11. Adopts the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), corrective measures- and timeframe, as follows:
    1. Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger:
      1. Removal of substantive threats arising from the conflict that started in 2011,
      2. Restoration of the deteriorated/compromised attributes, or at least evidence that the State Party has planned appropriate restoration works and has initiated the process for each specified damaged building,
      3. Removal or commitment to removal of illegal or unauthorised development,
      4. Reinstatement of the property’s protection and management system with, where necessary, enhanced capacity to ensure it can manage the risks of the conflict situation and mitigate other indirect risks such as fires, sewage leaks and illegal constructions in priority areas,
      5. Enhancement of the capacity of the property’s protection and management system through the development of a Master Plan, to manage additional factors that threaten the integrity and authenticity of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
    2. Corrective measures:
      - Implemented since 2013:
      1. Restoration of specified damaged buildings based on existing documentation, including with the involvement of NGOs, the University of Damascus, the local communities and youth,
      2. Building control system in place and a technical code for restoration under development,
      3. A strategy is developed to mitigate risks linked to electricity and sewage infrastructure (resulting in fires and water infiltrations), and risks linked to the deterioration of residences and commercial places, and its implementation is initiated through studies and partnerships with the local communities, the University of Damascus, NGOs and craftspeople associations, and by addressing the issue of traditional material availability,
      4. The update of the Master plan for the Ancient City of Damascus is initiated,

      - Not yet implemented:

      1. Establishment and activation of a legal mechanism for micro-finance loans and restoration licenses for private properties,
      2. Organisation of training workshops for craftspeople and support the provision of traditional material,
      3. Continuation of the implementation of the risk mitigation strategy aiming at mitigating risks linked to electricity and sewage infrastructure in priority areas,
      4. Approval and initiation of the implementation of the Master Plan,
      5. Strengthening fundraising efforts and enhance cooperation with local communities, NGOs and Damascus University, for risk mitigation and the implementation of the Master Plan,
    3. Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures:

      The implementation of corrective measures should be completed within a period of three years;

  12. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party in the implementation of the above-mentioned corrective measures;
  13. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session;
  14. Decides to retain the Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      44 COM 7A.24
      General Decision on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add,
      2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.37, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
      3. Deplores the continued conflict situation prevailing in some parts of 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 the sites included on the national Tentative List, commends the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and all heritage professionals and 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 about the damage incurred and the threats facing these properties and cultural heritage in general;
      5. Urges again all parties associated with the situation in Syria to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to the country’s cultural heritage, and to fulfil their obligations under international law, in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, including preventing any damage that may result from targeting World Heritage properties, sites included in the national Tentative List and other cultural heritage sites;
      6. Also urges the State Party and the international community to include recovery actions of cultural heritage properties within the overall humanitarian, security and peace building response, and support recovery plans that promote community participation, sustainability and inclusion;
      7. Further urges 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;
      8. Takes note with satisfaction of the works initiated by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for the elaboration of a set of corrective measures and the Desired state of conservation for the removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) of some of the Syrian properties;
      9. Reiterates its appeal to all States Parties to cooperate in fighting against the illicit trafficking of cultural property 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 Property in the Event of Armed Conflict;
      10. Requests the State Party to pursue the systematic documentation of all damage incurred at World Heritage properties, whenever conditions allow, to implement all possible risk mitigation measures;
      11. Reminds the State Party about the need to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, information on any future plans for major restoration or new construction projects, including infrastructure development projects, that may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
      12. Reiterates its call upon the international community to further support the safeguarding of Syrian cultural heritage through earmarked funds or through contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
      13. Also reiterates its call upon the international and national cultural heritage professionals to unite for the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural heritage, and to pursue their ongoing initiatives in coordination with UNESCO;
      14. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session.
      44 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/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
      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 44 COM 7A.28)
      • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 44 COM 7A.29)
      • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 44 COM 7A.32)
      • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 44 COM 7A.35)
      • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.39)
      • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.40)
      • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.41)
      • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.42)
      • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.43)
      • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.45)
      • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 44 COM 7A.5)
      • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.55)
      • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.52)
      • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 44 COM 7A.6)
      • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.7)
      • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 44 COM 7A.8)
      • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 44 COM 7A.10)
      • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 44 COM 7A.47)
      • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 44 COM 7A.11)
      • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 44 COM 7A.12)
      • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 44 COM 7A.13)
      • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 44 COM 7A.14)
      • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 44 COM 7A.15)
      • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 44 COM 7A.48)
      • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 44 COM 7A.1)
      • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 44 COM 7A.2)
      • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 44 COM 7A.3)
      • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 44 COM 7B.56)
      • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 44 COM 7A.30)
      • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 44 COM 7A.49)
      • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 44 COM 7A.17)
      • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 44 COM 7A.16)
      • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 44 COM 7A.36)
      • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 44 COM 7A.37)
      • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.50)
      • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 44 COM 7A.33)
      • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 44 COM 7A.53)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 44 COM 7A.18)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 44 COM 7A.19)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 44 COM 7A.20)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 44 COM 7A.21)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 44 COM 7A.22)
      • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 44 COM 7A.23)
      • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 44 COM 7A.4)
      • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.51)
      • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.54)
      • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 44 COM 7A.31)
      • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 44 COM 7A.38)
      • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 44 COM 7A.25)
      • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 44 COM 7A.26)
      • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 44 COM 7A.27).
      Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.20

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
      2. Recalling Decisions 43 COM 7A.33 and 43 COM 7A.37, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
      3. Taking into account Decision 44 COM 7A.24 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic,
      4. Expresses its concern about the collapse of a portion of the outer ancient city wall of the Ancient City of Damascus, in the area between Bab al-Salam and Bab Touma, and takes note of the documentation and emergency work undertaken in the framework of the Emergency Assistance approved in October 2020, to identify and address the reasons behind the collapse in order to minimize risks;
      5. Welcomes the positive results achieved by the State Party in reducing the number of fire incidents within the property through the effective implementation of the 2013 Emergency Response Plan and encourages the State Party to further pursue these efforts and to analyse the reasons behind the fires;
      6. Also encourages the State Party to scale-up efforts towards the use of traditional construction techniques and materials for restoration works, by strengthening the actions for the establishment of the Centre for the traditional production of building materials reported to have been established in 2019, as well as through the training of specialized labour and the enforcement of licensing regulations, in order to address cumulative potential threats to the authenticity of the property;
      7. Further encourages the State Party to continue implementing the recommendations of the 2016 UNESCO First Aid Support Meeting and the 2016 UNESCO Technical Assistance Workshop, and to pursue its efforts towards the development of a Management Plan for the property and to consider applying for an International Assistance request to this end;
      8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by ICOMOS, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, information on any proposed reconstruction and restoration projects within the property before any irreversible decisions are made;
      9. Reiterates the need for the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to be carried out as soon as the situation allows, in order to enable a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property;
      10. Takes note with satisfaction of the works undertaken by the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for the elaboration of a set of correctives measures and the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
      11. Adopts the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), corrective measures- and timeframe, as follows:
        1. Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger:
          1. Removal of substantive threats arising from the conflict that started in 2011,
          2. Restoration of the deteriorated/compromised attributes, or at least evidence that the State Party has planned appropriate restoration works and has initiated the process for each specified damaged building,
          3. Removal or commitment to removal of illegal or unauthorised development,
          4. Reinstatement of the property’s protection and management system with, where necessary, enhanced capacity to ensure it can manage the risks of the conflict situation and mitigate other indirect risks such as fires, sewage leaks and illegal constructions in priority areas,
          5. Enhancement of the capacity of the property’s protection and management system through the development of a Master Plan, to manage additional factors that threaten the integrity and authenticity of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
        2. Corrective measures:

          - Implemented since 2013:

          1. Restoration of specified damaged buildings based on existing documentation, including with the involvement of NGOs, the University of Damascus, the local communities and youth,
          2. Building control system in place and a technical code for restoration under development,
          3. A strategy is developed to mitigate risks linked to electricity and sewage infrastructure (resulting in fires and water infiltrations), and risks linked to the deterioration of residences and commercial places, and its implementation is initiated through studies and partnerships with the local communities, the University of Damascus, NGOs and craftspeople associations, and by addressing the issue of traditional material availability,
          4. The update of the Master plan for the Ancient City of Damascus is initiated,

          - Not yet implemented:

          (v) Establishment and activation of a legal mechanism for micro-finance loans and restoration licenses for private properties,
          (vi) Organisation of training workshops for craftspeople and support the provision of traditional material,
          (vii) Continuation of the implementation of the risk mitigation strategy aiming at mitigating risks linked to electricity and sewage infrastructure in priority areas,
          (viii) Approval and initiation of the implementation of the Master Plan,
          (ix) Strengthening fundraising efforts and enhance cooperation with local communities, NGOs and Damascus University, for risk mitigation and the implementation of the Master Plan,
        3. Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures:

      The implementation of corrective measures should be completed within a period of three years,

      12. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party in the implementation of the above-mentioned corrective measures;
      13. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session in 2022;
      14. Decides to retain the Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2021
      Syrian Arab Republic
      Date of Inscription: 1979
      Category: Cultural
      Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
      Danger List (dates): 2013-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      SOC Report by the State Party
      Report (2020) .pdf
      Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
      arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
      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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