Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
17 January 1983
Paris, 17 January 1983
Original : English and French
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC
AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION
OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE
World Heritage Committee
Paris, 13-17 December 1982
REPORT OF THE RAPPORTEUR
X. NOMINATION OF THE "OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM AND ITS WALLS" TO THE LIST OF WORLD HERITAGE IN DANGER
28. The Rapporteur recalled that the Bureau, on the proposal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, examined the request for the inclusion of the "Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls" in the List of World Heritage in Danger, and that, since a consensus could not be reached on this nomination, the Bureau declared that "it will be for the Committee, at its sixth session, to take in this respect the decision which in any case has to be taken by the Committee".
29. At the Committee's request, ICOMOS pursued its examination of the file concerning this nomination. In this examination, ICOMOS took into account the following points :
a) in giving a favourable opinion, in April 1981, on the inscription of this property on the World Heritage List, ICOMOS had already drawn attention to the "severe destruction followed by a rapid urbanization";
b) the mission of experts, entrusted with the task of verifying in situ "the nature and the extent of the threats", had not been able to proceed to Jerusalem, for reasons beyond the control of ICOMOS;
c) in the absence of a statement dating from 1982, ICOMOS has referred to reports made between 1970 and 1980, at the request of the Director-General of Unesco, by his personal representative, Professor Lemaire.
Consequently, ICOMOS considered that the situation, as described by the personal representative of the Director-General, meets criteria proposed for the inscription of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger as they apply to both "ascertained danger" and "potential danger".
30. The delegate of the United States, while underlining the universal importance of the monuments and spiritual heritage of Jerusalem, recalled the position taken by his government when the Old City had been nominated to the World Heritage List and explained the reasons for which he was opposed to its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger which would be equally contrary to the Convention. He stressed that a property must be situated in the territories of the nominating State and, in the opinion of his government, Jordan had no standing to make such a nomination. Furthermore, the consent of Israel would be required since it effectively controlled Jerusalem. His Government held that the ultimate status of Jerusalem should be determined through negotiations by all the parties concerned. The urban transformations that had taken place in the Old City did not constitute "serious and specific dangers". The documents referred to in the ICOMOS analysis did not present a compelling case in favour of inscription, the nomination file did not contain the urban plan called for by the Bureau and Jordan was in no position to assume the responsibility stipulated in Article 26 of the Convention. He proposed that the Committee reserve judgement on this nomination and stated that, if the Committee were to take a decision now, his delegation would oppose the inscription and call for a vote to register its position.
31. Many delegates expressed their support for the nomination and unanimously insisted on the exceptional value and unique religious and cultural significance of the Old City of Jerusalem. They recalled that the Old City of Jerusalem must be safeguarded in its entirety as a coherent whole and that the threats to any one of the elements of which it is composed endanger the property as such, as well as its authenticity and its specific character. Finally they considered that the situation of this property corresponds to the criteria mentioned in the ICOMOS note and, in particular, to criteria (e) (significant loss of historical authenticity) and (f) (important loss of cultural significance) as far as "ascertained danger" is concerned, and to criteria (a) (modification of juridical status of the property diminishing the degree of its protection), (b) (lack of conservation policy) and (d) (threatening effects of town planning) as far as "potential danger" is concerned.
32. Finally the delegate of Jordan called the attention of the Committee to the serious and specific dangers which threaten the "Old City of Jerusalem". He specifically pointed out the destruction of religious properties, threats of destruction due to urban development plans, deterioration of monuments due to lack of maintenance and responsible management, as well as of the disastrous impact of tourism on the protection of the monuments. Consequently, he urged the Committee to protect the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls by inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
33. After discussion, the Committee decided, by 14 votes for, 1 against and 5 abstentions, to inscribe the "Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls" on the List of World Heritage in Danger. One State Member of the Committee was absent when the vote was taken.
34. In explaining the reasons for his abstention which were legal in nature, the delegate of Switzerland recalled the statement made by his delegation when the Committee decided to enter the Old City of Jerusalem on the World Heritage List, regarding the special status of Jerusalem (
according to the 1947 partition plan of the United Nations). The Swiss Government considers that the City of Jerusalem is situated neither on Jordanian nor on Israeli territory. His delegation would furthermore have wished to have more complete information on the present state of Jerusalem and he considered it regrettable that the Committee had not been able to obtain a recent expert evaluation.
35. The delegates of Argentina, Nepal and Zaire also explained their vote. These delegations had supported the proposal made by Jordan to inscribe the Old City of Jerusalem on the List of World Heritage in Danger in view of the outstanding cultural and historical significance of this site. They underlined, however, that inscription on the list had no political implications and should in no way be regarded as a means for registering political or sovereignty claims by any State.