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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
18 August 2008

Item 5 of the provisional agenda


    The present document informs the Members of the Executive Board of the progress achieved in the follow-up to the decisions and resolutions adopted by the Board and the General Conference at their previous sessions.
    The nature of this reporting document does not lend itself to financial and administrative implications.

VI. 34 C/Resolution 47 and 179 EX/Decisions 9 and 52:
39. In its report to the Executive Board at its 177th session (177 EX/20 and Add.), and to the General Conference at its 34th session (34 C/15), the Secretariat presented the action taken as follow-up to 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/Decision and to Decision 31 COM 7A.18 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, New Zealand, July 2007), by which it requested “the World Heritage Centre to facilitate the professional encounter at the technical level between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts to discuss the detailed proposals for the proposed final design of the Mughrabi ascent, prior to any final decision”.

40. As mentioned in documents 179 EX/9 and 179 EX/9 Add., two professional meetings took place in Jerusalem on 13 January and 24 February 2008 between Israeli and Jordanian (including Waqf) experts, in order to discuss the proposed design for the Mughrabi ascent. During that period, the World Heritage Centre requested that the advisory bodies (ICCROM and ICOMOS) examine the proposal presented by the Israeli experts as well as the two proposed concepts presented by the Jordanian experts. Their evaluations were forwarded to the concerned parties.

41. All experts agreed that the structures of the Mughrabi ascent exposed after the completion of the archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in 2007 constitute an important testimony to the history of Jerusalem that need to be preserved. The experts stressed the advantages of identifying very simple solutions that could be adapted easily to the nature of the site, with a variety of modalities and full reversibility. They also agreed that conservation action is needed to protect the integrity and authenticity of the site.

42. These professional meetings were conducted in a spirit of mutual trust and understanding and showed the importance of technical dialogue between experts to address complex issues that require consultation and consensus of different stakeholders. In that regard, it was strongly felt by all participants that the various proposals discussed during the meeting had helped to build a consensus in line with the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee, based on a true exchange of ideas, experiences and know-how. Recognizing the critical importance of using, when necessary, such a format for dialogue, both UNESCO and the advisory bodies proposed themselves as facilitators, as appropriate, for similar technical and professional exchanges in future.

43. The “Reinforced monitoring” mechanism, requested by the Executive Board at its 176th session (176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting decision) and by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Decisions 31 COM 5.2. and 31 COM 7A.18) was applied for Jerusalem with regard to the Mughrabi ascent. Four reports were prepared by the World Heritage Centre providing an update of the situation at the Mughrabi ascent and the status of projects. They were transmitted to the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee and forwarded to the concerned parties and the States Parties members of the World Heritage Committee in October 2007, February, March and June 2008.

44. At its 32nd session (2-10 July 2008) held in Quebec City, the World Heritage Committee adopted by consensus and without debate Decision 32COM 7A.18 (annexed to 180 EX/10). In order to reach this consensus, negotiations took place between the concerned parties leading to the adoption of a decision in two parts, the first related to the overall conservation issues of the Old City of Jerusalem and the second concerning the Mughrabi ascent.

45. As regards the Mughrabi ascent, while requesting the World Heritage Centre to continue applying the reinforced monitoring mechanism (at least every three months, until the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2009), this decision requested the Israeli authorities “to continue the cooperation engaged with all concerned parties, in particular with Jordanian and Waqf experts” and asked the World Heritage Centre to “organize a technical follow-up meeting at the site with all concerned parties for additional exchanges of information to enable all necessary inputs to be considered”. Therefore, the World Heritage Centre will make the necessary arrangements, in consultation with the concerned parties, to organize such a meeting in the near future.

46. An addendum to the present document will be issued before the 180th session of the Executive Board in order to inform the Members of the Board on recent developments related to this issue. This addendum will also contain a draft decision.

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