UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC
AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF
THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE
WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE
2-12 July 2017
This document contains information on the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Committee is requested to review the reports on the state of conservation of properties contained in this document. The full reports of Reactive Monitoring missions requested by the World Heritage Committee are available at the
following Web address in their original language:
All state of conservation reports are also available through the World Heritage State of conservation Information System at the following Web address:
Decision required: The Committee is requested to review the following state of conservation reports. The Committee may wish to adopt the draft Decision presented at the end of each state of conservation report.
36. Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (C 148 rev) See Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2 (subject to the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism)
42. Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine) (C 1433)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2012
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
• Degradation of the architectural complex of the Church of the Nativity
• Development pressure
• Tourism pressure
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244
Corrective measures identified Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6244
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures In progress
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents/
Requests approved:1 (from 2014-2016)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://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).
Previous monitoring missions N/A
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
• Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
• Management activities
• Management systems/ management plan
• Water (rain/water table)
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/ Current conservation issues
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission visited the property in September 2016 (mission report available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1433/documents). Subsequently, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report (available at the same address) on 30 January 2017. Progress on conservation issues related to the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in those reports as follows:
• Progress with restoration of the roof of the Church of the Nativity: The repair of the roof trusses and the replacement of the roof coverings and rainwater disposal goods were completed in April
2016. At the request of the State Party, the mission took place before the scaffolding was removed in order to allow access to inspect this work. Restoration work of other priority areas including the narthex, external stone façades, internal wall plastering, and wall mosaics interventions were completed in 2015 and 2016 and the overall work is due to be completed in 2019, subject to funding. Of the four corrective measures, three have been completed - a full investigative survey of the historic timbers and lead work of the roof, identifying the age and historical significance of the various component parts; detailed project specification for the roof repairs, and undertaking and documenting the roof repair project, including stabilising the vaults of the Narthex. The Conservation Plan has however not yet been completed. A draft of a Conservation Plan based on a table of contents suggested by the ICOMOS Advisory mission has been compiled by the Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Church of the Nativity. Following the successful approval of an International assistance request to support the preparation of a Management and Conservation Plan, a contract has been made with Ramallah UNESCO Office for its implementation;
• Other projects: The Advisory mission discussed two proposed major projects for a Manger Square Tunnel and Manger Square Village, a commercial outlet with associated car park and recommended that both projects should be halted until a traffic management plan and a sustainable urban mobility plan, have been put in place, and solid justifications for their need have been made, following which an assessment of their potential impact should also be undertaken. The State Party confirms that it welcomes the Advisory mission's recommendations and will act accordingly.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The Advisory mission confirmed that work on the conservation of the roof of the Church of the Nativity and of the narthex has now been completed with high technical standards — and the church is now in sound condition as regards the primary factors leading to its decay.
Although the report gives a good record of the works that have been undertaken, there is nevertheless still a need to bring this data together as a single synthetic document for the future, to set out the historical and physical evidence on which conservation work was based, the justifications for the decisions made, and the precise work undertaken to minimise interventions to the historic fabric, especially the very earliest fabric.
There appears to have been some lack of liaison between the documentation side of the project and those deciding on how repair should be carried out. In spite of surveys and dendrochronological analysis, the mission was unable to obtain a clear answer to the fundamental question as to whether the form and some parts of the fabric of the present roof are of 6th century date, or whether they reflect one of the later periods of rebuilding. Given the extreme importance of the church in relation to the early history of Christianity, a clear understanding of how its fabric relates to this history is crucial. The retrospective statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) states that: "This church [the original one] is overlaid by the present Church of the Nativity, essentially of the mid-6th century AD (Justinian), though with later alterations. It is the oldest Christian church in daily use". It is clearly necessary to be able to understand, as precisely as possible, which parts are from the 6th century and which reflect later alterations.
A Conservation Plan, as requested by the Committee, is needed to bring together this data, to document precisely what was carried out and why and to set out the evidence on which the decisions were based to ensure minimal intervention in the historic fabric and to allow an understanding of where new material has been introduced. The Plan should also and set out the over-arching conservation policies for all those working on the building, to guide past and future interventions, in relation to the attributes of OUV.
The rationale and documentation for more recent work on mosaics, plaster, and architraves should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.
The mission also considered that the absence of a Management Plan for the property needs to be addressed as a priority, as a great deal of work has already been done to improve paving and signage, and repair buildings flanking the road, but this has not been undertaken within any agreed framework.
A Management Plan needs to be prepared to set out clearly the management system and to define policies/strategies for development and all other facets of management such as interpretation, access, tourism, traffic management, risk preparedness, etc. It is noted that an International Assistance of USD 30 000 has been recently granted to the State Party to prepare this Management Plan.
Two proposed large projects for a Manger Square Tunnel and Manger Square Village outlet could have the potential to impact adversely and irreversibly on the property. They need further research and justification in relation traffic management and urban mobility, as well as independent Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), before a detailed assessment can be made. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to halt further progress on these projects and compile necessary supporting documents and submit these with plans to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions have been made, in line with para 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
On 21-22 March 2017, a Workshop on the management of Cultural Heritage in Palestine was held in Amman, organized by UNESCO Office in Ramallah and attended by two ICOMOS experts. Discussions were held on the management challenges of the property in terms of threats and pressures from inappropriate development, the need to revitalize the social and commercial fabric of the historic core of Bethlehem, and the need to strengthen the current management structure. The property is already starting to respond to these challenges through the development of new management strategies.
In conclusion, it is commendable that the main thrust of the DSOCR has been reached in terms of the church roof now being conserved, and as three of the four corrective measures being achieved. However, the fourth corrective measure, development of a Conservation Plan, is yet in the planning process and major projects are being envisaged within the property prior to the completion of the conservation plan, and of the property's management plan. Therefore, it is recommended that the property be kept on the List of World Heritage in Danger until the fourth corrective measure is successfully completed.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.42
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 74.14, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016);
3. Commends the State Party on the successful completion of the conservation works of the roof and of the narthex of the Church of the Nativity and notes that the church is now in sound condition in relation to the primary factors leading to its decay;
4. Also notes that three of the four corrective measures have been completed and that the remaining one, the development of a Conservation Plan, is being planned;
5. Requests the State Party to complete the Conservation Plan and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, along with details of recent work on mosaics, plaster, architraves, stone pillar, etc.;
6. Also requests the State Party to submit a resume and analysis of all evidence relating to the age of the roof fabric in order that there is a clear understanding as to whether any material survives from the 6th century AD and if not what of the dates of the surviving fabric in relation with the conservation works undertaken;
7. Further requests the State Party to complete the development of a Management Plan and also submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
8. Notes with concern that the proposed projects for a Manger Square Tunnel and a Manger Square Village commercial outlet and car park could have the potential to impact adversely on the property; and requests furthermore the State Party to halt further work on these projects and compile the necessary justification and independent
Heritage Impact Assessments and submit these 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;
9. Finally requests that the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by
1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
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.
43. Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines — Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Palestine) (C 1492)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2014
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger 2014-present
• Potential construction of a separation fence (wall)
• Abandonment of terraces and afforestation
• Impact of socio-cultural and geo-political transformations
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger Adopted; see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6245
Corrective measures identified
Adopted; see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6245
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures Proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/documents/
Requests approved 1 (2016)
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds N/A
• Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
• Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
• Invasive/alien terrestrial species
• New constructions within the property's boundaries
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/ Current conservation issues
On 30 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1492/documents. Progress in a number of conservation issues
addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:
• Limited progress has been made in implementing the key corrective measures adopted in 2015 to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
• A timeframe for the full implementation of the adopted corrective measures has been proposed and submitted. This timeframe may be refined once the Management and Conservation Plan (MCP) is finalized. The corrective measures and thus the DSOCR are planned to be achieved within a period of 10 years, or 2026 ("Dismissal of plans to build a 'Wall' along the property, or within its surroundings," is not defined within the timeframe: the State Party observes that this corrective measure is essentially beyond its control);
• The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in cooperation with the Battir municipality, the UNESCO Office in Ramallah, and related stakeholders, began preparations for the MCP in November 2016, with completion anticipated in July 2017. The State Party advises that the adopted corrective measures will be integrated into the MCP;
• The State Party highlights the locally funded "Battir 2020 Initiative," which aims to implement sustainable cultural activities and tourism infrastructure, and summarizes a half-dozen rehabilitation projects supported by the Battir Municipality and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID);
• Funds are being sought for a number of initiatives, including a comprehensive project developed by the UNESCO Office in Ramallah, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Battir Municipality, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), entitled "Safeguarding, Rehabilitation, and Promotion of the Agro-Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir";
• Submissions of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) are anticipated for the Water Supply and Sanitation Improvements for West Bethlehem Villages Project and for the wastewater treatment plant for Battir and Hussan, should these projects proceed beyond the conceptual stage.
• The State Party requests that the property be retained on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The State Party has outlined a number of positive efforts made during 2016 to improve the state of conservation and protection of the inscribed property. Notable achievements include developing and submitting a proposed timeframe for the full implementation of the adopted corrective measures; and commencing preparations for the MCP, with its completion anticipated in July 2017. Positive efforts also include the local "Battir 2020 Initiative," which thus far has resulted in some maintenance, conservation, and/or rehabilitation of parts of the agricultural terraces, traditional irrigation systems, and abandoned buildings and shops, as well as engagement of the local community and increased awareness and promotion of the property.
Limited progress, however, has been made in implementing the key corrective measures adopted in 2015 to achieve the DSOCR. Moreover, the timeframe for the full implementation of the adopted corrective measures could be seen as long, stretching over the period of a decade to the year 2026. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to review the timeframe for implementing the corrective measures to determine whether an accelerated pace for some of the key measures is feasible.
Internal and external socio-cultural and geo-political factors and a lack of funding have hampered the State Party's ability to move forward on important projects that affect the state of conservation of the property, such as the establishment of an adequate sewage system to improve water supplies and sanitation. It is recommended that the Committee again request the State Party to put in place, as soon as possible, a robust management system with adequate staff who can advance the projects needed to allow sustainable management of the property — regardless of whether external funding is achieved.
On 21-22 March 2017 a Workshop on the Management of Cultural Heritage in Palestine was held in Amman, organized by UNESCO Office in Ramallah and attended by two ICOMOS experts. Discussions were held on the management challenges of the property and the team in charge of developing the management plan explained that there is a need for a strong engagement of the locals — both residents and stakeholders — in the management to accelerate and optimize the process of management planning.
Considering the above-mentioned information, it is thus recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.43
1.Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COMI7A,
2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.15, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
3. Welcomes the timeframe submitted by the State Party for the full implementation of the adopted corrective measures in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), and encourages the State Party to review this timeframe to determine whether an accelerated pace for any of the key corrective measures is feasible;
4. Commends the State Party for commencing preparations for the Management and Conservation Plan (MCP), the completion of which is forecast for July 2017, also encourages the State Party to envisage additional means in order to reinforce the engagement of local residents and stakeholders, and reiterates its request that the adopted corrective measures be adequately integrated into the MCP;
5. Also reiterates its request for the State Party to put in place, as soon as possible, an effective management system for the property and its buffer zone and, until the MCP is established and operational, to submit all construction projects to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
7. Decides to retain Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines — Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Palestine) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.