Institute expertise at Silk Roads World Heritage meetings

11 December 2013

Tim Williams meeting with His Excellency Damcho Dorji, Minister for Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan and Roland Lin (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris)

Tim Williams has recently returned from a a series of meetings in Central Asia, contributing his expertise in the Silk Roads World Heritage nomination process.

Tim firstly participated in the UNESCO mission to Bhutan from 25-30 November to explore how to help build capacity, ostensibly as part of the Silk Roads serial transnational nomination process, including approaches to developing the national inventory system. The South Asia Silk Roads nomination strategy was also discussed for which Tim has been invited to draft a discussion paper in early 2014.

Tim then travelled to New Delhi for a meeting with the Archaeological Survey of India and Advisory Committee on World Heritage Matters (under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, India) on 2 December at which the South Asia Silk Roads nomination strategy was progressed.

Tim was an invited international expert at the sub-regional closing meeting of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project “Support for documentation standards and procedures of the Silk Roads World Heritage serial transnational nomination in Central Asia”, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 4-5 December. This event marked the final reporting meeting for the Japan Funds-in-Trust project on capacity building and nomination development in Turkmenistan (conducted in May-June 2013) and serial nomination discussions in Nepal (March 2013).

Beginning in 2011, the Japan Funds-in-Trust project has focused on the the documentation of ancient sites of the Silk Roads in China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, while also training their national experts to document archaeological and architectural sites, and in the preparation of World Heritage nominations. Central Asia remains one of the most under-represented regions on the World Heritage List.

This meeting was organized by the World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Office in Tashkent in close co-operation with the Principal Department for the Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Objects of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Uzbekistan and the Institute of Fine Arts of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan.

The project successfully resulted in two serial, transnational World Heritage nominations, now under consideration for the 38th World Heritage Committee Meeting in Doha in June 2014: “The Routes Network of Tian-Shan Corridor”, jointly prepared by China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and the “Penjikent-Samarkand-Poykent Corridor”, joint prepared by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The two nominations will be presented for assessment at the Doha meeting, and will serve as the basis for discussion of the future direction and need for a second phase of work on Silk Roads' cultural heritage in Central Asia.