20 July 2018
Meeting at its recent, 42th session (Manama, Bahrein, 24 June to 4 July 2018), the World Heritage Committee decided to retain Uzbekistan’s Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz on the List of World Heritage in Danger.The Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000 with the definition of its “Outstanding Universal Value” based on its Temurid monuments, which were considered outstanding examples of a style, but also, because of its historic centre that had retained its original appearance.
Uzbekistan is a State Party to UNESCO’s Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). States Parties to this Convention have an obligation to protect and conserve the World Cultural and Natural Heritage situated on their territory, notably to ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection and conservation of such heritage. Furthermore, the provisions of the Operational Guidelines of this Convention request the State Parties to inform the World Heritage Centre of any reconstruction and development scheme concerning the World Heritage-listed sites.
However, in the framework of the reconstruction project ‘State Programme for complex measures for the building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’, there were considerable changes made to the historic centre of the city without prior information provided of such plans to UNESCO. The UNESCO expert mission fielded to Shakhrisyabz in 2016 found that “the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost” and “that traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed’.
This is why Shakhrisyabz was included in the World Heritage in Danger List in 2016. The List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions, which threaten the very characteristics for which properties were inscribed on the World Heritage List and rally the support of the international community for their protection.
The World Heritage Committee also requested Uzbekistan to halt any further work at the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz and invited the country to use this opportunity as a means of strengthening management and conservation at other urban World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan.
The case of the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz will be considered by the World Heritage Committee at its next session in 2019.