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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
27 August 2009





Item 5.2 of the provisional agenda

JERUSALEM AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF 34 C/RESOLUTION 47



OUTLINE
    Source: 34 C/Resolution 47, 181 EX/Decision 12, 181 EX/Decision 5, Part III.

    Background: By the above-mentioned resolution, the General Conference invited the Director-General to present to it, at its 35th session, a progress report on the implementation of the Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and to include this item on the agenda of its 35th session. By 181 EX/Decision 12 and 181 EX/Decision 5, Part III, the Executive Board invited the Director-General to submit to it a progress report on this matter at its 182nd session.

    Purpose: The Director-General informs the General Conference about the current situation and the steps taken to safeguard the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem since the 34th session. After examination of this matter by the Executive Board, the Director-General intends to submit an addendum to the present document.

    Decision required: The above-mentioned addendum will contain a draft resolution.


1. At its 34th session, the General Conference examined a report by the Director-General concerning the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem (34 C/15), and adopted 34 C/Resolution 47 by which it decided, inter alia, to include this item on the agenda of its 35th session.

The Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem

2. Document 32 C/Resolution 39 (2003) requested the Director-General to set up a committee of experts to propose guidelines for the establishment of an Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem. The World Heritage Centre fielded several technical missions to Jerusalem to elaborate this Action Plan, thanks to the generous financial contribution from the Government of Italy, as well as assistance provided by the Government of Spain. With the agreement of the concerned parties, the Action Plan was elaborated and welcomed by the Executive Board and the General Conference, as well as by the World Heritage Committee.

3. The remaining activities foreseen within the first phase of the Action Plan will soon be completed through the development of a World Heritage Education programme, within the framework of the UNESCO Special Project "Young People"s Participation in World Heritage Preservation and Promotion". The cultural activities (workshops, lectures, visits) are to be carried out in Jerusalem during the summer of 2009, mainly through already foreseen summer camps, with the participation of 10- to 16-year old young people, teachers and educators from different Jerusalem schools.

4. UNESCO has received a donation from the A.G. Leventis Foundation in Cyprus for the restoration of the Saint John Prodromos church in Jerusalem. Following the approval by the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of the commencement of work, the project was initiated by the World Heritage Centre in early March 2009. The activities of the first year are focusing on preliminary studies and the architectural design, in order to define the detailed restoration interventions that will be carried out in the following years.

5. In addition, interest for the funding of the first of the identified priority projects in the Action Plan, namely the restoration of the Armenian Cathedral of St. James, has already been received from the Pro Sacris Locis Foundation. The project is being developed directly by the Foundation, and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has accepted to be associated to the initiative and to provide its technical and scientific assistance.

Development of an architectural heritage conservation institute

6. As announced at the 34th session of the General Conference, an agreement was signed between UNESCO and the European Commission for an amount of €700,000, in order to develop a Conservation Institute in Jerusalem for the training of professionals in the field of architectural conservation. The project is implemented in partnership with the Welfare Association, and the first phase ended with the development of a training curriculum and materials, and the organization of a pilot training session in December 2008. It is expected that the project will end by July 2010.

Establishment of a centre for the restoration of Al-Aqsà manuscripts

7. The project for the Al Aqsà Centre for Restoration of Islamic Manuscripts, located in the Madrasa al-Ashrafiyah within the Haram ash-Sharif and funded by the Welfare Association and the United Arab Emirates, was completed in February 2009. In June 2008, conservation equipment, delayed for three years in Ashdod Port, was finally delivered to the Centre, thanks to the cooperation of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Jordanian authorities which accepted to bear the cost of the storage fees. Two UNESCO missions were then dispatched, in August and November 2008, to supervise the equipment installation and provide staff training. A third phase of the project is presently being funded under the regular budget. The activities include further staff training in restoration and documentation. Additional staff was engaged for the Centre by the Jerusalem Waqf.

Project for the safeguarding, refurbishment and revitalization of the Islamic Museum

8. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has approved the use of US $1,300,000 from its funds-in-trust deposited within UNESCO to refurbish entirely the Islamic Museum located close to the Al-Aqsà Mosque. Two missions were fielded in February and July 2009, in order to prepare a detailed design and plan of activities for the project in consultation with the Jerusalem Waqf. It is foreseen to recruit a local project coordinator, to send UNESCO consultants for the restoration of the building, to prepare an updated inventory of the collections in English and Arabic, to build professional capacity for the staff, to improve display collections, and to define the educational outreach messages. Four additional staff for the Museum will be recruited by the Jordanian authorities. An informal Working Group will be established under UNESCO¡¦s coordination to advise on the museological and technical components of the Museum.

The Mughrabi ascent to the Haram ash-Sharif

9. Since early 2007, the archaeological excavation and further design for a new access to the Haram ash-Sharif through the Mughrabi Gate, carried out by the Israeli authorities, have been considered as a specific issue within the overall context of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem. In the same year, the Executive Board (176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/Decision), the General Conference (34 C/Resolution 47) and the World Heritage Committee (decisions 31 COM 5.2 and 31 COM 7A.18) requested the Director-General and the World Heritage Centre to facilitate the professional dialogue between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts in order to discuss the proposed design of the Mughrabi ascent. Subsequent decisions also recalled that no measures, unilateral or otherwise, should be taken which will affect the authenticity and integrity of the site.

10. Two technical meetings took place in Jerusalem between Israeli, Jordanian and Waqf experts, with the World Heritage Centre, ICCROM and ICOMOS, in January and February 2008. Besides site visits, discussions were held in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of both the Israeli advanced design and the Jordanian concept proposal, their impacts on the physical integrity of the site, and to discuss common and shared principles that could best respect the authenticity of the site and meet the conservation requirements. These discussions were conducted in a spirit of understanding and showed the importance of technical dialogue between experts to address complex issues that require consultation and consensus.

11. However, despite further requests from the Executive Board and the World Heritage Committee, it has not been possible to organize a follow-up meeting since then. At its 181st session, the Executive Board adopted 181 EX/Decision 5 (III), in which it "affirms the necessity of cooperation in order to arrange for access to the Mughrabi ascent site" and "calls on the Director-General to organize a follow-up meeting of experts as soon as possible, once the parties concerned have reached an agreement".

Sessions of the World Heritage Committee

12. Since 2004, the World Heritage Committee has been provided with a state of conservation report on the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1981 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 1982. Therefore, related decisions are also adopted by the World Heritage Committee, reinforcing those of the General Conference and the Executive Board.

13. At its 32nd and 33rd sessions (July 2008 in Quebec City, Canada, and June 2009 in Seville, Spain respectively), the World Heritage Committee adopted Decisions 32 COM 7A.18 and 33 COM 7A.18 by which it "welcomed the Action Plan for the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem developed in the context of the Director-General's comprehensive initiative for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls" and "strongly supported its implementation in coordination with the concerned parties". Concerning the issue of the Mughrabi ascent, the World Heritage Committee, in its decision 33 COM 7A.18, requested "that the Israeli authorities continue the cooperation commenced with all concerned parties, in particular with Jordanian and Waqf experts". The decision also "affirms the necessity of cooperation in order to arrange for access to the Mughrabi ascent site" and "calls on the Director-General to organize a follow-up meeting of experts as soon as possible, once the parties concerned have reached an agreement".

Other issues

14. Among the various issues related to the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, the question of the archaeological excavations is repeatedly brought up. During the period considered, UNESCO continued to bring to the attention of the Israeli authorities, who de facto have administered the Old City of Jerusalem since 1967, the potential impact of the archaeological excavations undertaken in the Old City on the integrity and authenticity of the site.

15. An addendum to the present document will be issued before the opening of the 35th session of the General Conference, in order to inform the Member States on any recent development related to this issue. This addendum will also contain a draft resolution.






Item 5.2 of the agenda

JERUSALEM AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF 34 C/RESOLUTION 47


ADDENDUM


OUTLINE

    This document is an addendum to document 35 C/16, concerning the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of jerusalem, and proposing a draft resolution in this regard.

    Resolution proposed: paragraph 3.


1. Since document 35 C/16 was issued, and following the presentation of document 182 EX/15, which reports on the implementation of the Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as on other projects for the Old City of Jerusalem, the Executive Board of UNESCO adopted 182 EX/Decision 15.

2. It may also be noted that in relation to the Ascent to the Mughrabi Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Executive Board adopted 182 EX/Decision 5(II). In this decision, the Executive Board recalled “181 EX/Decision 5(III), 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/Decision, 177 EX/Decision 20, 179 EX/Decisions 9 and 52”, “Decisions 31 COM 7A.18, 32 COM 7A.18 and 33 COM 7A.18 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st (Christchurch, 2007), 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively”, as well as “the relevant provisions on the protection of cultural heritage including, as appropriate, the four Geneva Conventions (1949), The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, the inscription of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls at the request of Jordan on the World Heritage List (1981) and on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1982), and the recommendations, resolutions and decisions of UNESCO”. It reaffirmed “the purpose and spirit of the professional encounter at the technical level of 13 January 2008, as well as the follow-up meeting of 24 February 2008”, and noted “the Sixth Reinforced Monitoring Report (February 2009) prepared by the World Heritage Centre”. It regretted “in this regard the postponement of the follow-up meeting of experts which was scheduled on 12 November 2008, as called for in Decision 32 COM 7A.18 adopted by the World Heritage Committee in Quebec City and reiterated in UNESCO Executive Board Decision 181 EX/5(III), as well as of the planned visit of Jordanian technical experts to the Mughrabi Ascent site on 27 July 2009, due to circumstances that have impeded Jordanian experts from having access in order to take measurements”. It recognized “the existence of deep concerns regarding the decision taken by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Commission on the town planning scheme for the Mughrabi ascent” and requested that despite that decision, “the process for the design of the Mughrabi ascent be inclusive of all parties concerned, in accordance with the spirit and content of previous World Heritage Committee decisions”. It reaffirmed “that no measures, unilateral or otherwise, should be taken which will affect the authenticity and integrity of the site, in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972 and, as necessary, the relevant provisions on the protection of cultural heritage of The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954”. It noted “the request made by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in Decision 33 COM 7A.18” and asked, in this regard, “that the Israeli authorities resume the cooperation commenced with all concerned parties, in particular with Jordanian and Waqf experts”. It reaffirmed “the necessity of cooperation in order to arrange for access to the Mughrabi Ascent site for Jordanian and Waqf experts”, and reiterated its call on the Director-General “to organize a follow-up meeting of experts as soon as possible, once the parties concerned have reached an understanding”. It also reaffirmed “that the process for the design of the Mughrabi ascent, which allows for the taking into consideration of the designs submitted during the aforementioned professional encounter, is still under way”. Finally, it expressed its thanks to the Director-General “for the action he is taking to facilitate the dialogue and professional exchanges between all the parties concerned”.

3. In view of the information provided in 35 C/16 and Add., the General Conference may wish to adopt the following resolution:

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