UNESCO-ICOMOS mission to Butrint, Albania 26-31 October ...whc. Secretary-General of the National...

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    UNESCO-ICOMOS mission to Butrint, Albania

    26-31 October 2003



    The mission members express their gratitude to the Albanian authorities, in particular to Ms Arta Dade, Minister of Culture, for receiving the mission, and address special thanks to the Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Ms Tatjana Gjonaj, and the Secretary-General of the National Commission, Mr Fation Peni, for their help, availability and assistance provided to the mission during its work.

    Background Inscription history

    The property of Butrint was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992 under criterion C (iii); In March 1997 it was reported that the site had been looted during the civil unrest in Albania. The Committee, on the basis of the recommendations of a UNESCO-ICOMOS-Butrint Foundation assessment mission, decided to inscribe Butrint on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1997) with the agreement of the Albanian Government.

    In 1999, the World Heritage Committee decided to extend the site to include not

    only the walled city from the Greek, Roman and Venetian period, but an additional 184 ha to better protect the site.

    Justification for the mission

    In 2001, on the basis of the recommendations made by a second assessment

    mission carried out that year, the Committee requested that a mission should visit Butrint in October 2003 in order to assess if the property can be removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. In July 2003 (27th session), the Committee recalled this mission and requested that a report, taking into account all issues, which led to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, be submitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004. Objectives of the mission According to its Terms of Reference, the mission had the following objectives:

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    - To assess the current situation of the site in terms of legal protection, management arrangements, planning and state of conservation of the site and its components;

    - To assess the implementation of the actions proposed by the UNESCO-ICOMOS mission of April 2001;

    - To provide a summary report to the World Heritage Committee on its findings considering Operational Guidelines paragraphs 81-85;

    - To formulate a recommendation as to whether the site can be withdrawn from the List of World Heritage in Danger, considering the procedures provided in paragraphs 86-93 of the Operational Guidelines.

    Section 1: Assessment of the current situation 1. Legal and institutional framework

    The Minister of Culture, Ms Arta Dade, expressed strong commitment on behalf of Prime Minister Fatos Nano and herself to ensure the effective protection and conservation of the World Heritage Site. This commitment is reflected in the progress made during the past years, in particular by the adoption of a new Law for Cultural Heritage, the reinforcement of the Board of the Butrint National Park, which coordinates the activities affecting the Park, and the designation of the area around Butrint as a RAMSAR site.

    Due to its importance for the Albanian population, Butrint is also seen as a model to follow for the protection of other cultural and natural heritage in Albania. The strong commitment by the current authorities to protect the site should be assured on the long term through the enactment of effective legislation and consensus among political parties.

    A major step has been taken by the adoption on 7 April 2003 of a new Law on Cultural Heritage, which came into force on 5 May 2003. The law was prepared by a commission composed by representatives from the Ministry, universities, museums, lawyers and economists, and afterwards revised by the Council of Ministers. It includes a categorisation of cultural properties, rules concerning their administration, protection areas and a distribution of responsibilities among institutions. There are several decrees by the Council of Ministers for the protection and management of Butrint. These decrees cover the creation in 1998 of the Butrint National Park, its Administration Board and later its statutes. The Board’s composition has been adapted in later decrees. A Law on Protected Zones, for the protection of natural areas of special value, was adopted in June 2002. In October 2002, a Decree by the Council of Ministers defined the land use in the natural area around the World Heritage site of Butrint, since 1999 equal to the extension of the National Park, and the land use of the rest of the area around it, its buffer zone. The total surface of the affected area by this decree is 13 500 ha, which was designed a RAMSAR site in 2003.

    The area of the National Park (3 886 ha), which covers the World Heritage site, is divided in three levels of protection (or land-use categories): areas of special archaeological significance, strictly protected biodiversity areas and natural resource

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    areas where sustainable agricultural practices can take place. Outside the National Park, 652 ha are occupied by human settlements, some of them (Ksamili, Xarra, Vrina) on the borders of the National Park. The rest of the area, 8 962 ha, forms the total buffer zone.

    In 2003 a compilation of regulation in the field of cultural heritage has been published in Tirana, which includes the above-mentioned laws and decrees, the working procedures of the Butrint Board and a translation in Albanian of UNESCO’s 1972 Convention on the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage. The mission received a copy of it in Albanian. A translation of this compilation into English would be very useful, not only for informing the World Heritage Committee but also for the drafting by the Albanian Authorities of the Periodic Report on the implementation of the 1972 Convention and on the State of Conservation of Butrint. Institutional framework

    The Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Science are institutionally competent in the field of cultural heritage, and politically responsible for the World Heritage site. The Ministry of Culture operates in Butrint through the Institute of Monuments, and the Academy of Science through the Institute of Archaeology. There is no administrative hierarchy between both.

    With the establishment of the Butrint National Park and its Board, the Ministry of

    Tourism and Urban Planning and the Ministry of the Environment have also a say in the conservation and management of the National Park and the RAMSAR site. The administration of the Butrint National Park is organised through the Board of the Butrint National Park and the newly created Administration and Coordination Office in Saranda.

    The Board has currently the following members: - The Minister of Culture, Chair, - The Directorate General for Cultural Heritage, (Ministry of Culture) - The Director of the Institute of Monuments, (Ministry of Culture) - The Director of the Institute of Archaeology, (Academy of Science) - The Vice-Minister of Tourism, (Ministry of Tourism and Urban Planning) - Director of Nature Protection (Ministry of the Environment) - The Secretary General of the Albanian National Commission (Ministry of Foreign


    The meetings of the Board take place at the Ministry of Culture under chairmanship of the Minister. The Board adopts an Annual Agreement on the allocation of resources, which is to be implemented by the Administration and Coordination Office of Saranda.

    In order to increase the participation of all the authorities involved in the

    conservation of the National Park, especially since the enlargement of the protected area and its nomination as a RAMSAR site, it is advisable to enlarge the Board with representatives from the Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Defence. There also seems to be a Restoration Board within the Ministry of Culture, which is not involved in the site. Its participation in the Board decisions and involvement in the state

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    of conservation of the site should be clarified. The status whether the Director of the National Park, who is appointed by the Minister of Culture, is a member or not of the Board, should also be clarified.

    The participation in the Board of representatives from the villages of Mursia and

    Ksamili, as seems to be foreseen in the new law, should be made effective as soon as possible, as well as the transfer of 15% of the Park revenues to them for re-investment in conservation needs of the Park (like domestic waste collection). The participation in the Board meetings of non-institutional stakeholders as observers, like the Butrint Foundation, the Packard Centre, the Getty Institute, or the World Bank should be considered.

    For the sake of the effectiveness of the implementation activities, it seems

    necessary to have a clear description of the function of the Park’s Director and to adequately staff the Administration and Coordination Office. At the time of the mission, the staff foreseen for this Office (5 persons) had not yet been officially appointed. The Director of the National Park is also Head of this Office, and informed the mission members that the current guides of the Butrint peninsula may be recruited as staff of the Office in the future, as civil servants.

    The Butrint Foundation The Butrint Foundation, a UK charitable trust, has been active in Butrint since it was set up in 1993. It