Angkor and the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust:
'A Decade of Cooperation'
From 1907 to 1970, when the archaeological site of Angkor was the responsibility of the Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), it benefited from major maintenance and restoration work. Abandonment of the site as the result of war and other upheavals led to extensive and serious damage.
Shortly after the establishment of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust at UNESCO, the Government of Japan decided to support the organization of a First Technical Round Table of Experts on the Preservation of the Angkor Monuments in June 1990 in Bangkok, as a first project. This Round Table had been proposed by UNESCO within the framework of its Plan of Action for the conservation of the Angkor Monuments. This first technical meeting on Angkor, bringing together some 30 experts, Cambodian specialists and representatives of various international institutions and governmental and non-governmental organizations, adopted a series of recommendations for future action.
With the return of peace, and following an appeal by the Director-General of UNESCO in 1991, the international community awoke to the need to safeguard Angkor. In view of the exceptional value and universal significance of this immense site (approximately 400 km2) with its countless historical monuments, the World Heritage Committee decided in December 1992 to include it on the World Heritage List. In order to strengthen action undertaken to preserve this cultural treasure, it also declared the site to be in danger.
In October 1993, the Government of Japan hosted the Intergovernmental Conference on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor. Bringing together some 30 government representatives, notably representatives of Cambodia, together with those of international organizations, financial institutions and NGOs, the Conference adopted the "Tokyo Declaration" establishing in Phnom Penh the International Coordinating Committee on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), in order to support the Cambodian Authorities (APSARA, the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap, created by Royal Decree in February 1995). The ICC has convened regularly since December 1993 under the co-chairmanship of Japan and France and with the assistance of UNESCO as permanent secretary. Japan and France share the cost of these activities.
Conservation and Restoration of Selected Angkor Monuments
Following four preliminary survey missions fielded by the Japanese Government in response to requests from the Royal Government of Cambodia, the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA) was set up in 1994 under the leadership of Professor Takeshi Nakagawa from Waseda University, Tokyo, to carry out a project within the framework of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust.
During the first phase of a long-term project (1994-1999) implemented by JSA with administrative assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Centre (JICE), activities focused on the Bayon temple and the Royal Plaza, and the restoration work for the Northern Library of Bayon was completed.
During the second phase, 1999-2005, the JSA team will continue its activities at Prasat Suor Prat. It will also complete the Masterplan for the preservation of Bayon and take charge of the restoration of the Northern Library of Angkor Wat.
This second phase was the subject of a mid-term evaluation, carried out in July 2002 by two international experts, Professors Jean Barthélémy (Belgium) and Carlo Blasi (Italy), who underlined the quality of the work implemented by the JSA team.
(Extract from "Preservation of Tangible Cultural Heritage through the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust" p.6 © UNESCO)
Copyright : 2013 Permanent Delegation of Japan to UNESCO