XII.91 The Bureau examined the report on the state of conservation of this property presented in working document WHC-02/CONF.201/11 Rev.
The Bureau expressed great concern over:
(a) the rapid increase in illegal demolition of historic buildings, including those listed on the inventory of traditional wooden buildings;
(b) the illegal construction of buildings including those of public administrations, in the World Heritage protected area of Luang Prabang, which demonstrates non-respect for the building permit system;
(c) visual impairment and possible engineering problems regarding the Asian Development Bank-financed consolidation works carried out along the banks of the Nam Khan River;
(d) delay in the finalization of the national heritage protection laws and regulations, hence delay in their enactment by the National Assembly of Laos, despite the commitment made by the Government in its letter of September 1995, addressed to the Director-General of UNESCO;
(e) delay in the official adoption by the national authorities of the Luang Prabang conservation plan (Plan de Sauvagarde et de Mise en Valeur-PSMV), also promised in the letter cited above;
(f) lack of progress in the establishment of the subsidy and micro-credit scheme to support the conservation of privately-owned buildings in the historic core; and
(g) non-continuation of consultation process with the local inhabitants, considered essential for the protection of a site largely composed of privately-owned traditional houses.
XII.92 The Bureau, while noting with appreciation the tangible and well-coordinated support provided by the City of Chinon through its decentralized co-operation programme, in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Union and the Region Centre amongst others, requested all other national and international actors working in Luang Prabang to ensure that their activities contribute to national capacity-building, rather than to the mere completion of the public works. The Bureau reiterated the importance of maintaining the authenticity and the integrity of the town of Luang Prabang, whose World Heritage values are based on the link between the natural and the built environment as well as on the harmonious fusion and co-existence between the traditional Lao and the late 19th-century European urban patterns and the corresponding architectural styles.
XII.93 The Bureau requested the World Heritage Centre to:
(a) arrange for an urgent reactive monitoring mission composed of experts representing ICOMOS and UNESCO with technical competence to evaluate the situation referred to above, including the hydro-engineering problems;
(b) organize a technical meeting during this mission with the national and local authorities concerned and with all external and national agencies involved in urban conservation and infrastructure development activities in Luang Prabang, with a view to reinforce co-operation according to a set of defined conservation objectives;
(c) support the State Party in taking immediate measures to halt the process of deterioration to the World Heritage value of the site;
(d) inform the State Party of its deep concern over the non-response to its repeated requests for information on the progress in the adoption of legal and management tools in ensuring the protection of this World Heritage site; and
(e) renew its request for a full report on the measures taken to redress the threats, to be submitted to the Centre by 1 February 2003, for examination by the Bureau at its 27th session of the Bureau in April 2003.