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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
21 March 2013





Item 5 of the provisional agenda

REPORT BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL ON THE FOLLOW-UP TO DECISIONS
AND RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE EXECUTIVE BOARD AND
THE GENERAL CONFERENCE AT THEIR PREVIOUS SESSIONS


SUMMARY

This report is intended to inform the Members of the Executive Board of the progress achieved in the follow-up to the decisions and resolutions adopted by the Executive Board and the General Conference at their previous sessions.

This document contains information on the following programme and human resources issues:

I. Implementation of 36 C/Resolution 43 and 190 EX/Decision 5 (II) relating to the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem

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Programme issues

I. Implementation of 36 C/Resolution 43 and 190 EX/Decision 5 (II) relating to the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem
(Follow-up to 190 EX/decision 5 (II))

1. Pursuant to 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/Decision and to the decisions of the World Heritage Committee since its 31st session in 2007 (Christchurch, New Zealand), the World Heritage Centre has spared no efforts to facilitate exchanges between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts regarding the design of the Mughrabi ascent in the Old City of Jerusalem. Despite these efforts, to date no follow-up to the technical meetings held in January and February 2008 has taken place.

2. This item was inscribed on the agenda of the Executive Board at all subsequent sessions. It is also presented annually to the World Heritage Committee within the framework of the item related to the state of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger as regards the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls.

3. At the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee (Saint Petersburg, 24 June to 6 July 2012), the state of conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, was presented to the Committee. Decision 36 COM 7A.23.II, reiterating the terms of the Executive Board 189 EX/Decision 5 (II), was adopted by consensus among the concerned parties. The World Heritage Committee also encouraged “the Director-General to facilitate coordinated action and professional exchanges between all the parties concerned”.

4. At its 190th session, following a roll-call vote in the Programme and External Relations Commission of 28 votes in favour, 23 votes against and 4 abstentions, the Executive Board adopted 190 EX/Decision 5 (II), by which it adjourned the debate on this item to the 191st session. The draft decision 190 EX/PX/DR.10 submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates was annexed to this decision.

5. Following a letter of 2 August 2012 by the World Heritage Centre requesting information on various ongoing projects, including the Mughrabi Ascent, the Permanent Delegation of Israel to UNESCO responded by letter dated 22 August 2012 that “the Israeli authorities have no further information or any reason to add to the most recent Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls State of Conservation Report, sent to the World Heritage Centre in March 2012”.

6. A “note verbale” from the Permanent Delegation of Jordan to UNESCO, dated 9 October 2012, informed UNESCO that the Israeli authorities had resumed work on the Mughrabi ascent since 22 May 2012, including “extensive concrete pouring […], demolishing Islamic walls and a room […], levelling of different areas of the ascent in a manner that adversely affects its structure, dismantling building stones and transferring the historical remains from the site to an unknown destination”, without taking into account previous decisions of the Executive Board and of the World Heritage Committee requesting that “no measures, unilateral or otherwise, shall be taken on the site”. The “note verbale” also stresses the great concern of the Government of Jordan relating to these actions, reporting that they “have adversely altered the site’s characteristics, integrity, authenticity and Islamic cultural heritage” and which “hinder the efforts to finally settle the Mughrabi Gate Pathway dispute in a manner consistent with UNESCO’s consensus decisions and acceptable by all relevant parties”.

7. On 5 and 14 February 2013, UNESCO received two additional “notes verbales” from the Permanent Delegation of Jordan to UNESCO to reiterate the concern of the Jordanian authorities with regard to the works undertaken by the Israeli authorities at the Mughrabi Ascent.

8. Should there be any developments on this matter the Director-General is prepared to issue an addendum to the present document before the 191st session of the Executive Board.

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