Bagan Struggles to Get UNESCO Recognition

The government will struggle to enlist the ancient city of Bagan as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Daw Sandar Khin, deputy union minister for Culture, said.

“To enlist Bagan as a World Heritage site should not be very difficult but there are some problems such as having a small number of dedicated staff and scarcity of technicians,” she said.

Myanmar’s initial application in 1996 was rejected by UNESCO due to poor management strategies and legal frameworks. The UN body also criticised new constructions and restoration projects undertaken by the former military junta saying that they compromised Bagan’s architectural and archaeological integrity. Many archaeological experts oppose Bagan’s listing as a heritage site as the military had built on top of old structures or reconstructed them completely.

In recognising Bagan as a cultural zone, environmental maintenance and the appreciation of the local people and the tourists are important especially in promoting the willingness to cherish cultural things, the minister said.

“Recognising Bagan as a cultural zone does not mean that we stop regional development. The community desires development but that can be done without affecting the cultural heritage zone. The development and maintenance of the zone should be balanced. I would like this zone cherished more after being recognised as a cultural heritage zone.”

Research on the cultural heritage site according to the terms of UNESCO will be organised, she added.

There are 46 zones in Bagan that is up for enlistment, however, it is unlikely that all of them will be recognised by UNESCO. The Ministry said it will designate the unrecognised zones as National Cultural Zones.

As of 2015, there are 1,031 of World Heritage sites, out of which 802 are Cultural Heritage sites, 197 Natural Heritage sites and 32 Mixed Heritage sites from 163 countries around the world.

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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