Delegates from Bhutan, China, India and Nepal meet with UNESCO experts in Kathmandu to prepare the first South Asian Silk Roads Transnational World Heritage Nomination

22 September 2014

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris and the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu in close collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal is organizing a two-day workshop on “Nomination strategy for the South Asian Silk Roads” financed under the Korean project “Support for the preparation for the World Heritage Serial Nomination of the Silk Roads in South Asia”, on 23 and 24 September 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The workshop will be attended by representatives and experts from four South Asian countries, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, international experts, UNESCO representatives and about 60 participants from Nepal, to discuss a potential Serial and Transnational World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads heritage routes. 

This meeting will also have the opportunity to share the experience of the first inscribed Silk Roads World Heritage: Initial Section of the Silk Roads, the Routes network of Chang’an - Tian-shan Corridor, jointly prepared by China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan and inscribed in June this year. This is one of the priority transnational heritage corridors put for the first phase of the Silk Roads nomination process. However, the nomination process has not yet begun in South Asia, where the smaller network of routes holds considerable importance. 

Within the framework of the Global Strategy for a Representative and Balanced World Heritage List adopted by the World Heritage Committee, China and the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have already been working with UNESCO on this issue since 2006, supported by several regional workshops and three meetings of the intergovernmental Coordinating Committee of the Serial World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads, attended by representatives from China, the five Central Asian countries, as well as Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal, Japan and the Republic of Korea. 

The present Kathmandu workshop aims at reviewing the state of research on the potential heritage routes of the participating countries and deciding on a joint nomination strategy of the South Asian Silk Roads.  The workshop will also decide on inviting representatives from Bangladesh and Pakistan, to join the preparation process of a joint South Asian Silk Roads World Heritage Nomination.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to better represent the region’s historical and cultural significance through a potential inscription of a South Asian Silk Roads “heritage corridor” on the World Heritage List. 

Nepal had participated in the Silk Roads Coordination Committee meetings since 2009 and engaged in preliminary research and dialogue with scholars and stakeholders in Nepal including national and international experts that highlighted the existence of significant and remarkably intact archaeological features along three main routes within Nepal. However, an assembly of specific documentation of individual sites and overall routes is lacking and much more analysis is needed to understand their links with the main Silk Roads and, consequently, their potential as possible “heritage corridors” for nomination. 

Silk Roads are an interconnected web of routes between the East and West that reflect the interchange between societies and cultural interactions.  The ideas, values and knowledge spread over time through this network and the technological progress resulting from these interchanges contributed significantly to the development and flourishing of many of the world’s great civilizations. Flourished as a two-way intercontinental trading system in particular between the 2nd century BC and end of the 16th century AD, this network of routes started initially from Chang’an (present day Xi’an) and ultimately stretching from East Asia to the Mediterranean region in the West, and down into the Indian subcontinent, stretches up to Antioch, the modern Antakya in what is Turkey today.                                                                                   

The present Kathmandu workshop would testify to the great interest of the participating countries for presenting their unique contribution to Asia’s wealth of cultural heritage sites and monuments that express common historical experiences of the countries along the route. 


Kathmandu, 22 September 2014

Press release UNESCO/KAT 04/2014