1.         Hatra (Iraq) (C 277rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2015-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

Not yet drafted

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/277/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 3,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted (for all World Heritage Sites of Iraq):

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 3 February 2020, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, an updated version of which was submitted on 28 January 2021. These reports, which are available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/documents/, provide the following information on the property:

The State Party requests that a mission be dispatched to assess damage at the property. On 3 September 2020 the State Party submitted an additional ‘Damage Assessment Report Status Study’ for the property. This report includes general information on the importance of the rationale and process for recovery from damage, a narrative about the occupation of the property between 2015 and 2017, a small selection of photographs of damage being inflicted, brief descriptions and photographs of damage to individual components, and high-level recommendations, including reiteration of the request for a mission.

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

The State Party has proceeded with addressing the lack of complete and detailed information on the state of conservation of the property, including through the support of ALIPH and international experts. The already submitted damage assessment report together with a set of recommendations is a welcome step. The overall approach suggested in this report might contribute to the identification of the Desired State of Conservation for Removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). However, more detailed assessment of the damage remains necessary in order to facilitate the protection, repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the important monuments. Tables, drawings and systematic photo surveys of damaged monuments, and graphics showing the extent of damage are needed to scope the required repair and reconstruction works and to inform a comprehensive conservation plan.

As has been previously recommended, protection measures need to be taken to prevent any further damage to the property, or looting. It is recommended that the Committee again encourage the State Party to address priority actions, noting that protection and emergency stabilization work should be undertaken only in cases where collapse or further damage is imminent, and according to the principle of minimal intervention. It is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party of its previous request that remedial and repair works should be guided by a comprehensive conservation plan prepared in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies. The State Party has indicated that the weathering of building materials has had a major impact at the property. Therefore, a comprehensive and long-term conservation plan is crucial.

Notwithstanding current challenges, it is desirable that the process should commence for the eventual removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It would be appropriate for preliminary work on the DSOCR to be initiated remotely, through exchanges between the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS, ICCROM and the State Party. Towards this end, a first online meeting with the State Party took place in January 2021. However, it is essential that the state of conservation of the property be clearly documented and verified. The approach and techniques adopted for this property may become a model for other Iraqi properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

It is again recommended that, when security conditions permit, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission takes place to further assess the damage and to discuss with the State Party the short-, medium- and long-term goals and actions required to protect the property. This would be particularly relevant in order to facilitate implementation of proposed corrective measures and achievement of the DSOCR.  




9. General Decision on the World Heritage properties of Iraq

Current conservation issues

The conflict in Iraq between 2014 and 2017 led to a massive humanitarian crisis and resulted in significant damage to Iraq’s cultural heritage through deliberate destruction, illegal excavation and looting, as well as collateral damage. Three of Iraq's World Heritage properties have suffered as a result of this conflict, namely Samarra Archaeological City, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) and Hatra. In addition, the archaeological sites of Nimrud and the Ancient City of Nineveh, which are on Iraq’s Tentative List, have also been greatly damaged through acts of deliberate destruction. In the Old City of Mosul, included in the Tentative List since August 2018, significant sites, monuments and buildings were systematically targeted, including historical and religious heritage sites such as al-Nouri Mosque and its iconic al-Hadba Minaret.

On 3 February 2020 and 28 January 2021, the State Party submitted state of conservation reports, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/44com/documents/#state_of_conservation_reports. The reports provide an overview of the state of conservation of Samarra Archaeological City, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) and Hatra, and the damage inflicted as a result of the conflict, but no detailed assessment. The reports express the need for financial support to improve the state of conservation of World Heritage properties, and the wish of the State Party to work closely with the international community in this regard. The 2021 report mentions that the spread of COVID-19 has contributed to limiting conservation and management activities. The proposed construction of the Makhool Dam in Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) has been re-activated and the State Party has requested support in preserving the property and the archaeological sites located in the dam’s basin.

The State Party reiterates its request for missions to be undertaken in order to conduct damage assessments and conservation works, and requests the support of the World Heritage Centre in the development of corrective measures for the eventual removal of the three properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Activities undertaken by UNESCO

Activities undertaken by the Advisory Bodies


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

The conflict situation in Iraq has directly affected its three properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and some of its Tentative List sites to varying degrees. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage during the conflict period between 2014 and 2017 is of particular concern. Owing to the security situation in several parts of the country and the very limited resources, Iraq’s other World Heritage properties and Tentative List sites have been indirectly affected. In addition, the illegal excavation and looting of archeological sites have caused extensive loss and irreversible damage – although there have been several incidents of restitution of cultural property in recent years.

Since the liberation of substantial parts of the country in 2017, Iraq has been facing the challenges of recovery while addressing the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. This is particularly evident at the Old City of Mosul, where UNESCO is currently engaged within the framework of its flagship initiative “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”.

The lack of detailed damage assessments for the three World Heritage properties that are on the List of World Heritage in Danger remains a concern, despite the more recent reported documentation work for Hatra carried out by a team of experts in February 2020, through the support of the International Alliance for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH), as well as the submission of an additional ‘Damage Assessment Report Status Study’, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/277/documents/. This report includes general information on the intended process for recovery and brief descriptions and photographs of damage to individual components, as well as high-level recommendations, including reiteration of the request for a mission. Detailed damage assessments are necessary to evaluate the situation and to plan for stabilization and conservation works, including repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction of important monuments, before interventions can take place. It is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party of its previous request in Decision 43 COM 7A.21, that remedial and repair works should be guided by a comprehensive conservation plan prepared in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies. It is also necessary to evaluate potential risks other than those specifically related to conflict, such as those concerning natural deterioration and potential flooding, and, to plan for the properties’ longer-term recovery and management. In this regard the re-activation of the proposed construction of the Makhool Dam is a major concern, giving rise to an additional potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat).

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit detailed documentation on all damage incurred at World Heritage properties, and to undertake protection and urgent stabilization work only in cases where collapse or further damage is imminent, according to the principle of minimal intervention. The required information includes systematic photographic surveys, drawings, graphics and quantitative data and identification of potential risks. Elements found at the property, and resulting from conflict-related damage, should be retrieved and gathered in a safe location. Boundaries of properties should be protected from illegal excavations and looting.

Moreover, it is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to advise, through the World Heritage Centre, about any future plans for major restoration or new construction projects that may affect the OUV of World Heritage properties, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse.

The Committee should also reiterate its appeal to States Parties to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property coming from Iraq and to contribute towards the safeguarding of its cultural heritage.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7A.7

Decision: 44 COM 7A.7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 43 COM 7A.19 and 43 COM 7A.21 adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Taking into account Decision 44 COM 7A.9, on the World Heritage properties of Iraq,
  4. Notes the State Party’s efforts to keep the World Heritage Centre informed about the situation on the ground, welcomes the submitted ‘Damage Assessment Report Status Study’, takes note of the documentation carried out, and urges the State Party to compile comprehensive information on the state of conservation of the property, particularly detailed assessment of the damage needed to facilitate the protection, repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction of the important monuments;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit all assessments it has undertaken, and to carry out a more detailed damage assessment, including systematic photographic surveys, drawings, graphics and quantitative data, as well as identification of potential risks to the property, prior to taking any action on the ground, and to submit this assessment for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Reiterates its request that interventions be addressed within the framework of the overall assessment of damage and risks and a comprehensive conservation plan prepared in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Encourages the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and the State Party to collaborate and to draw upon the Damage Assessment Report Status Study in order to progress 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), as well as identification of means by which the state of conservation of the property can be verified;
  8. Also reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, once security conditions permit, to assist in assessing damage at the property, and discuss with the State Party authorities the short-, medium- and long-term goals and actions required to protect the property, in order to implement corrective measures and achieve the DSOCR;
  9. Reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Iraq as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 of February 2015, 2253 of December 2015 and 2347 of March 2017;
  10. Calls again on all States Parties to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  11. 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;
  12. Decides to retain Hatra (Iraq) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7A.9

Decision: 44 COM 7A.9

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.21, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Takes note of the reports provided by the State Party regarding the state of conservation of the properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and continues to express its concern about the lack of comprehensive and detailed assessment of the properties affected by the conflict and about the limited resources available for the safeguarding of affected cultural heritage;
  4. Expresses its appreciation to the Director-General of UNESCO for the progress made towards safeguarding cultural heritage in the Old City of Mosul, and for the expertise and resources mobilized so far within UNESCO’s “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” flagship initiative, and also expresses its appreciation to the donors for their generous contributions towards this end;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit updated documentation of damage incurred at World Heritage properties, including systematic photographic surveys, drawings, graphics, quantitative data and identification of potential risks, to safeguard damaged properties according to the principle of minimal intervention, and to refrain from undertaking conservation and restoration work until comprehensive conservation plans have been developed, in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  6. 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 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;
  7. Reiterates its appeal to all States Parties to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Iraq as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 of February 2015, 2253 of December 2015 and 2347 of March 2017, and encourages the State Party to ratify the Second Protocol (1999) to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict;
  8. Calls again on all States Parties to provide technical and financial support to safeguarding efforts for Iraq’s World Heritage and other cultural heritage sites, including through the “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” initiative, in order to implement short-, medium- and long-term measures;
  9. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to present at its 45th session in 2022 a report on the activities related to cultural heritage undertaken within the framework of the “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” initiative;
  10. Further 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.

Decision Adopted: 44 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/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: