June 5-7, 2006 : The meeting of the fifteenth technical committee of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC).

As part of the bi-annual meeting proceedings, the fifteenth technical committee of the ICC was held on June 5-7, 2006. As usual, the meeting was co-chaired by the representatives of the French and Japanese Embassies while the organization and secretariat was ensured by the Bureau of UNESCO in Phnom Penh, with the assistance and collaboration of the APSARA Authority. During its three days session, the meeting convened a wide range and multidisciplinary scholars and specialists to gather recent data and reflections on issues such as conservation – restoration and sustainable development of the Historic Site of Angkor. Through multidisciplinary presentations and discussions, the meeting was an occasion to shed further light on the history, to agree on guidelines for the preservation work of the site and to deepen knowledge about the present state of the temple, the scope of work that would be required to proceed in the conservation program, and the ecological connections between economic development and archeological preservation of Angkor.

Among various recommendations, in accordance with the guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the ICC encouraged the adoption of a Management Plan necessary to the long term safeguarding of the Angkor site. This management plan should specifically include, amongst other things, a general methodological frame for the conservation, restoration and maintenance intervention to be carried out in the monuments. Consequently, all the international missions that carry out conservation work in the Archeological Park of Angkor were encouraged by the ICC to contribute as much as possible to the elaboration of this management plan in order to help the APSARA Authority gather all the relevant guidelines and operational items allowing a proper daily management as well as long term safeguarding of the site of Angkor.

 

 

In relation to the deterioration of stones, a group of researchers from the Blaise Pascal University of Clermont-Ferrand (France) proposed, through a partnership, to undertake a critical assessment of the Ta Keo temple stability and durability by studying the stone’s conditions and their state of deterioration. The ICC recommended the adoption of this proposal and asked for contributions to be made from now on. The project will last for 4 years (2006-2009). Also the ICC recommended that the 3D visual images of Bayon, which were engineered by the Tokyo University as a part of the Japan-Apsara for Safeguarding of Angkor (JASA) programme, to be provided to the APSARA Authority and be placed in the future Welcome Center. Furthermore, to promote worldwide educational awareness of Angkor, the ICC asked that these images should be installed in the official website of the World Heritage Center in Paris.
On the researching aspect, there was an important announcement of new chronological findings for the reigns of King Jayavarman VII (now to be dated 1182 to 1220); King Indravarman II (now to be dated 1220 to 1270); and King Jayavarman VIII (now to be dated 1270 to 1295). These findings are based on the reading of an important Sanscrit inscription, which was carved at the beginning of the XIV century, in the so-called Mangala?rtha temple. However, the findings have not been officially confirmed and the ICC has extended its request to JASA to undertake some surveys underneath of the Central Tower of the Bayon in order to ensure stability. Only these surveys will allow making an in-site verification of the consequences of the new epigraphic data and especially to establish with certainty of the history of the construction of the temple and to check the stability of the Tower in order to decide if it should be or not closed to the public for safety reasons.

The ICC expressed its satisfaction with the competence and the performance of which the APSARA Authority in undertaking in the conservation works. The ICC was, especially, congratulated the APSARA Authority for the entrustment it recently received from the Royal Government of Cambodia to safeguard and to value the important archeological and monumental site of Koh Ker. Such entrustment does not only represent the competence of the APSARA Authority over its jurisdiction and scope of work, but also reflects its the commitment to comprehensively and continuingly strengthen the capacity of its working force as well as its institutional building. To assist the APSARA Authority on its newly entrusted assignment, the ICC recommended that the UNESCO group of Ad Hoc experts undertake a field survey of the site and offer an evaluation of its actual situation. The ICC also extended an appeal to all involved international missions to voluntarily express their interest in contributing to the documenting and the safeguarding of Koh Ker. The will to propose bilateral or multilateral cooperation for the safeguarding of this site should be expressed by the interested parties during the next ICC Plenary Session of December 2006.

On the issues of sustainable development, on May 4, 2006, the APSARA Authority received the ISO 14001 Certificate from Japan Quality Assurance for its pursuit of Environmental Management System (EMS) on the Angkor Archeological Park. The EMS is a mechanism which allows the APSARA Authority, on the one hand, to standardize its environmental policy and design proper measure to ensure minimal impacts on environment from the economic and social development, and to further bridge the intimate linkage and harmonization between “nature to temple and the people” which means to say “environment to culture and the community.” On the other hand, it means to boost the social and organizational esteem in preserving the environment with “the initiation of Cambodia, implementation by Cambodia and for Cambodia.” Among the environmental friendly projects, and on a temporary trial period pending the result of sample survey conducted with different visitors, is the electrical car which primarily designed to reduce the pollution caused by the automobiles’ smoke. Also on this environmental issue, to pursue balance between economic and social development to conservation, the ICC expressed deep concern over the over-utilization of underground water in Siem Reap. Such expression was due to the future prospect that the excessive use of underground water could alter the ecological system of the Siem Reap region and could endanger the monuments in Angkor and Siem Reap city. Alternative sources of water and the effective utilization of water were proposed as solutions to avoid such possibility. For insight and concrete background of information on such concern, the Mekong River Commission will be invited to participate in the next ICC meeting to make a presentation on the relationships between the Tonle Sap Lake and the Mekong River.

Furthermore, the ICC endorsed the APSARA Authority program to diversify the attraction in the historic site of Angkor, a prime tourist destination of Cambodia,. Not only has this diversification helped provide meaningful and memorable experience to tourist, but it helps to prolong their stay in Cambodia. With this program, visitors will be able to experience the richness of Angkor’s social and natural beauties where the smiles of Khmer and the astonishing beauty of flora and fauna are the main features. In this respect, ICC has also recommended that the technical staff of the Department of Tourism Development of Angkor be strengthened. Concerning the proposed project of lighting of the Angkor monuments, the ICC recommended that the program should keep in mind the necessity to respect the visual integrity of the site’s landscape as well as the international standards of protection of World Heritage sites when the implementation of this kind of project is proposed. Also to avoid perturbations of the cultural and natural landscape harmony of Angkor and the surrounding sub-soil of the monuments, the ICC insisted that before implementing the project, a proposal be submitted to the expertise of the Ad Hoc expert group and to the Secretariat of the ICC, both of whom should consequently inform the APSARA Authority of their opinion on this matter..


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