- Programs of development must better protect poor populations from negative social and human impacts, and contribute to the redistribution of economic wealth, especially for health care and education and other basic services such as drinking water, electricity, sanitary facilities, urban waste disposal, etc.)
- Eradicating the poverty and reducing inequalities implies both support for new economic activities in favor of urban and rural populations, leading to their effective participation and the respect for their cultural wealth.
- Implementing well-coordinated and sustainable programs for protection and long-term management is necessary since the growth in population and visitor numbers leads to the degradation of the environment and the monuments of Angkor.
- Sustainable development programs should be envisaged both for the World Heritage Site of Angkor, the Region of Siem Reap and Tonle Sap. This development contributes to the diversification of activities linked to culture and tourism, and is integrated within the economic region of the Greater Mekong.
- The APSARA Authority has demonstrated its dynamism and willingness to take care of questions dealing with economic planning, landscaping and the setting up of services. Its capacities and human resources must be strengthened; its roles must be also defined; its cooperation must be reinforced with other public partners.
- The presence of a public initiative and private initiatives notably through the APSARA Authority and the Province of Siem Reap, should allow the handling of the requirements of collective infrastructure and the exploitation of commercial and economic activities. However, the public authorities must pay attention to the balanced regulation of public and private partnerships, as well as the transparency of procedures (land ownership, environmental, financial).
- The diversity of future investments, necessary coordination of the management of natural resources and the alleviation of poverty, as well as the management of programs, necessitates the exchange of information between the partners involved in programs of social, economic, and environmental development. It is recommended in particular that these programs should be discussed within the framework of the ICC.
4. Becoming a World Heritage
On 14 December 1992 at the 16th session of the World Heritage Committee in Santa Fe, USA, the Angkor Complex occupied by several hundreds of monuments, ancient settlements, ancient royal roads, irrigation systems and bridges, and rich in flora and fauna, was inscribed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger. After 12 years of great efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia, in close collaboration with the international community, for safeguarding the Angkor site, certain conditions and recommendations were successfully fulfilled. This fulfillment invited the World Heritage Committee in July 2004 at its 28th session in Suzhou, China, to remove the Angkor site from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and to just legitimately upgrading it to a World Heritage.
5. Creation of the ICC-Angkor
In accordance with the Tokyo Declaration in 1993, the Intergovernmental Conference, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor, known as the ICC-Angkor, was established in the same year.
The ICC-Angkor plays its crucial role in:
- Coordinating all international institutions working for the safeguarding and development of the historic site of Angkor.
- Encouraging international cooperation to promote the knowledge, safeguarding, and sustainable development of the eco-historic site of Angkor.
- Encouraging the involvement of the local communities of the area in the conservation of the Angkor site and development of its region through showcasing their tangible and intangible cultural diversities, providing them equal opportunity to education, training, and employment.
- Encouraging the capacity building of the Cambodian side for the conservation and sustainable development of the Angkor site through strengthening the human and financial resources of the competent authorities, transferring skills from international experts and their Cambodian counterparts, documenting systematically the historical site of Angkor, promoting academic training and research.
The ICC-Angkor is placed under the honorary chairmanship of His Majesty the King Father Norodom Sihanouk to whom the Tokyo and Paris Intergovernmental Conferences paid tribute His initiative and personal commitment to national reconciliation and safeguarding Angkor.
The ICC-Angkor is co-chaired by France and Japan; the Permanent Scientific Secretariat is assured by the UNESCO and the APSARA Authority represents the Royal Government of Cambodia. The ICC-Angkor has its official members coming from 40 countries and 11 organizations working with heritage conservation and sustainable development.
An ad-hoc group of experts is appointed to assist the ICC-Angkor to study and evaluate the scientific and technical aspects of project proposals involving with the conservation and development of the Angkor site.
The ICC-Angkor organizes annually two sessions of meeting and a quadripartite session.
The Plenary Session determines the principal policy directions of the ICC-Angkor in the presence of their co-chairmen (Ambassadors of Japan and France), and the ICC’s member institutions that have decision-making authority. The Plenary Session adopts the recommendations proposed by the Technical Session, decides on matters to be discussed at the next Technical Session and approve new scientific or development projects proposed for the Angkor site.
The Technical Session deals with specific technical matters carried forward from the Plenary Session or arising from scientific and technical issues regarding the Angkor site and its monuments, presented and debated by national and international teams.
The Quadripartite Session is held regularly prior to each ICC meeting, among the Cochairmen and representative of Cambodia and UNESCO. It approves the applications to attend the Plenary and Technical Sessions of the ICC submitted by observers; the list of participants who will make presentations for the next coming ICC meeting.
6. Establishment of the APSARA Authority
On 19 February 1995, with the assistance of UNESCO and the ICC-Angkor, the APSARA Authority was established by the Royal Decree 0295/12/NS/RKT.
Operating under the auspices of the Office of Council of Ministers, and supervised by a Board of Directors, the APSARA Authority is the representative of the Royal Government of Cambodia for the management of all activities related to the Angkor site.
The main missions of the APSARA Authority are included:
- Ensuring for the Region of Siem Reap/Angkor the protection, conservation, and showcasing of national cultural properties;
- Designing and leading the management and development of culture and tourism in the region of Siem Reap/Angkor;
- Contributing to the implementation of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s policy for poverty alleviation.
- Ensuring the capacity building and Development of Human Resource.
The Authority has planned for 2009-2012, 55 projects with an estimated cost about 84 millions US$.
Adopted in May 2008, the APSARA Authority has 14 Departments presided by a Chairman, A Director-General, and several Deputy Director-Generals.
- Department of Siem Reap Urban Heritage Development;
- Department of Conservation of Monuments Outside of Angkor Park.
7. Elaboration of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, Royal Decree, and Sub-Decrees)
In order to protect the Angkor site and its associated archaeological features, a series of protective legislations were enacted.
- Royal Decree 001/NS: Establishing Protected Cultural Zones, May 1994
- Royal Decree 0295/12: Establishment of the APSARA Authority, 19 February 1995;
- Royal Decree 0196/26: Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage, 25 January 1996;
- Royal Decree 0199/18 2nd Decree: APSARA Authority, 22 January 1999;
- Royal Decree 0504/070: Establishing the Protected Cultural Zone of Koh Ker, 5 June 2004;
- Sub-Decree No. 98: Execution of the Cultural Heritage Protection Law, 17 September 2007.
8. International Cooperation (ongoing projects in Angkor)
- Restoration: 8 projects of temple restorations (Restoration of Baphoun temple by École Française d’Extrême-Orient, EFEO, France; Restoration of Bayon temple by UNESCO/Japan/APSARA Safeguarding Angkor, JASA, Japan; Restoration of Ta Prom temple by Archaeological Survey of India; Restoration of Ta Keo temple by Chinese Safeguarding Angkor, China; Restoration at Angkor Wat temple by UNESCO/Ingegneria Geotecnica e Structural snc, Italy; Restoration at Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, Phnom Bakheng and Ta Som temples by World Monuments Fund, USA; Restoration of the Western Causeway of Angkor Wat, phase 2, by Sophia University, Japan; Restoration and Showcasing of Srah Srang Basin by UNESCO/APSARA-Jet Tour Funds in Trust).
- Research: 10 research projects ( Research at Prasat Top West by Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Japan; Archaeological research on greater Angkor Thom territory, Archaeological research in Koh Ker, and Archaeological research of Yasodharasrama in Angkor by EFEO, France; Environmental and archaeological research at Angkor Thom and Research on prehistory and environment in Siem Reap region by International Research Centre for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan; Research on royal road from Angkor to Phimai by Khmer-Thai Joint Research Project; Research on human settlements inside the Angkor Thom Royal Palace site by Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic; Research on stones and Micro-organism at Tanei temple by National Institute for Cultural Properties of Tokyo, Japan; Archaeological research on Phnom Kulen by Archaeology and Development Foundation, Great Britain; Environmental research in Angkor region by Environment Research Development Angkor Cambodia, Japan; Archaeological Research in Koh Ker by Royal Angkor Foundation, Hungary; and Research on Angkorian epigraphy in Angkor by University of Bonn, Germany).
- Stone Conservation: 3 stone conservation projects (Conservation of bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat by German-APSARA Conservation Project, Germany; Stone conservations at Ta Keo temple by Blaise Pascal University, France; Conservation of stone at Angkor and Koh Ker by Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst German Development Service, Germany).
- Sustainable Development: 8 projects (Angkor management plan by New Zealand Agency for International Development-APSARA; Heritage management framework by UNESCO/Australia/APSARA Funds-in-Trust; Living with heritage and Greater Angkor Project by University of Sydney; Restoration school of Pimeanakas temple by Czech Project in Angkor (Czech Republic); Regional heritage training school by Chaillot School, French Ministry of Culture/Cambodian Ministry of Culture/APSARA; Run Ta Ek eco-village for sustainable development by APSARA Authority; Agriculture development in Siem Reap by Agrisud International, France; Planning of Siem Reap town water management system by Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan).
- Completed Projects: 7 projects completed (Development of Banteay Srei Parvis by Switzerland/APSARA; Restoration of the Phnom Bakheng, Phase 1, by World Monuments Fund, USA; Restoration of the Angkor Wat embankment and Pre Rup temple by I.Ge.S., Italy; Archaeological excavation at Banteay Kdei temple and the construction of Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum by Sophia University, Japan; Restoration of Chau Say Tevoda temple by Chinese Safeguarding Angkor, China; Restoration of Prasat Sour Prat, Angkor Wat’s northern library and Bayon’s northern library by Japanese Safeguarding Angkor, Japan; Restoration of Bakong Pagoda by HOLCIM Group of Companies; Research on Phnom Kulen Ceramics by University of Singapore; Archaeological excavations in Rolous region and Prehistoric excavations in Western Baray by EFEO-APSARA Authority; Construction of Angkor Ceramic Museum in Tani village by the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia and APSARA Authority.
9. Final Remark
The Angkor site is now well protected thanks to the great efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the APSARA Authority through closely international cooperation and various supports from the World Heritage Committee, UNESCO, other national and international institutions involving their works with the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of the Angkor Site. So far 29 on-going projects have been undertaken in Angkor by about 30 international teams from 16 countries, while other 7 projects were recently completed. The principles by which the ICC-Angkor and the APSARA Authority have been functioned were recently adopted for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Such great success accomplished by the Royal Government of Cambodia under the righteous leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, invited the World Heritage Committee to accept the inclusion of the Angkor site (1992), the Preah Vihear temple (2008), the Khmer Classical Dance (2003), and the Khmer Shadow Theatre (2005) in the World Heritage List. Recently, Cambodia was also nominated as a member of the World Heritage Committee.
UNESCO, 2010, ICC-Angkor: 15 Years of International Cooperation for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The Kingdom of Cambodia for the first time: Candidate to the World Heritage Committee in 2009 (leaflet issued by the National Commission of Cambodia for UNESCO).
ICOM, 2009, Red List of Cambodian Antiquities at Risk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from Cambodia from the Bronze Age through the Khmer Era (Extended and amended by exchange of Diplomatic Notes on August 26, 2008).
Report of the 21-22 December 2009 National Workshop on Prohibiting Illicit Traffic, Theft, and Transaction of Cultural Properties (Prepared by the National Commission of Cambodia for UNESCO, 2009).