ICC-ANGKOR-SAMBOR PREI KUK 26 and 27 January 2021, Siem Reap

The 34th Technical Session and the 27th Plenary Session of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) took place, under quality sanitary measures, at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra in Siem Reap on the 26th and 27th of January 2021.

Due to the global pandemic, it was a hybrid meeting inviting 75 participants based in Cambodia to the meeting venue including the representatives of the Cambodian government and international community from France, Japan, US, UK, Germany, etc. In addition, some 300 participants all over the world joined it through videoconference, e.g., from France, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, etc. Her Excellency Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, the Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the APSARA National Authority, represented the Royal Government of Cambodia at these two ICC Sessions. And Her Excellency Ms. Eva Nguyen Binh, Ambassador of France to Cambodia, and His Excellency Mr. Mikami Masahiro, Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia also joined the sessions as co-chairs to the meeting.

Despite the current situation marked by COVID-19, the national teams working in Angkor and Sambor Prei Kuk have continued to carry out works throughout 2020, to align with the ICC Recommendations adopted during the technical and plenary sessions of the ICC in December 2019. During the ICC sessions in January 2021, international and national teams of APSARA National Authority have presented ongoing projects and activity reports. In addition, four international teams also delivered presentations on the achievements of the carried-out activities in 2020, i.e., World Monument Fund; China-Cambodia Government Team, Stone Conservation Unit, (GIZ APSARA) and German APSARA Conservation Project.

In her speech, H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, expressed her sincere appreciation for the international and national experts who had worked at Angkor under the challenging situation in 2020. She stated that it was fortunate from the outset of the difficulties for her Ministry and the APSARA National Authority who received benefit from the solidarity of all the Ministries and organizations involved in the Conservation and Development of Angkor. She also expressed the Ministry’s commitment to maintaining a continuous and regular pace of the quality work for the preservation of the Angkor World Heritage site.

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In her opening remarks, H.E. Ms. Eva Nguyen Binh, thanked all the people working daily on the sites and she also stressed the importance of new approaches to promote tourism development and thus prepare for the post-Covid-19 era. She recalled the spirit that led to the inscription of the Angkor site on the UNESCO World Heritage and highlighted the ICC’s role to prevent new projects from affecting such spirit.

In his closing remark, H.E. Mr. Mikami Masahiro, appreciated the progress of work despite the difficult situation under the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed the importance of  considering the sustainability of the Angkor world heritage site and the whole ecological and economic system, taking into account the Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which advocates the necessity of making a resilient system to create a sustainable city and society.

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In his speech, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO Representative to Cambodia, stressed the importance of close collaboration between international and national experts during the current difficult situation, while underlining the key role of culture; conservation and promotion as a socio-economic response to COVID-19. Mr. Alam also stated ”now more than ever, we must ensure that Culture conservation and promotion, remains at the core of the socio-economic response to COVID-19, and subsequent strategy for economic revival and growth. This has put more responsibility on the shoulders of ICC to ensure that the Angkor site, continues to remain a robust conservation model where undue pressure on the site’s development does not pose a threat to the unique values and integrity of this prestigious UNESCO World Heritage property, which belongs to the people of Cambodia, and to all the peoples of the world”

At the end of the Session on 27 January 2021, new Recommendations were approved unanimously by the meeting participants. Some of the important points include: a proposal to the APSARA National Authority to establish a Maintenance Unit within its Department of Conservation of Monuments and Preventive Archeology; the structural consolidation of the Bakan tower foundation corners, restoration of four columns of Preah Poan Gallery at Angkor Wat and restoration of three Buddha statues at Bakan Gallery in Angkor Wat temple. These recommended actions aim at ensuring a quality state of conservation and regular maintenance of the value of the World Heritage site, while contributing to the long-term conservation of the authenticity and integrity of the Angkor World Heritage List.

During the closing session, H.E. Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, announced that the next ICC sessions would be organized in the last week of June 2021.

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