The future of Angkor Wat recently debated in Tokyo resulted in some financial pledges
and an agreement to form a coordinating committee to be co-chaired by France and
The Inter-Governmental Conference on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic
Site of Angkor took place on October 12 and 13 and involved delegates from 30 countries
and seven inter-governmental organizations.
Several participants made contributions but the only details forthcoming were that
France and Japan pledged $10 million each and Thailand $1.2 million.
Convened by France and Japan, the Tokyo Declaration outlined 13 points including
giving ultimate control to the Cambodian government, whose people have "sovereignty
over and primary responsibility for the safeguarding and development of the historic
area of Angkor".
A high profile 12-member delegation representing the Cambodian government was led
by State Minister Van Moly Vann who last month temporarily shut down the UNESCO office
in Siem Riep.
That event has been attributed to "misunderstandings" and in Tokyo UNESCO
was given the role of secretariat to the new committee stemming from its role as
secretariat of the conference.
The French and Japanese ambassadors to Cambodia will chair the committee which will
coordinate all assistance offered and will "ensure the consistency of the different
projects, and define, when necessary, technical and financial standards".
His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk was proposed as the honorary president of the committee
which will be made up of Cambodian representatives and officials from international
No time scale was given for the committee's formation but a Cambodian delegate believed
it would be two to three months.
But it appears some decision-making may have to happen before then as the Cambodian
government is set to report to the World Heritage Committee by December.
A member of the UNESCO office in Phnom Penh said certain conditions were attached
to the Angkor site being granted World Heritage status.
Protection zones will have to be defined and the regions governing it established,
according to Cultural Program Officer Veronique Dauge.
UNESCO has been working on a zoning plan known as ZEMP, the Zoning and Environmental
Management Plan which took nearly a year to complete with the help of 25 experts
from 11 countries.
A key feature of ZEMP is the use of a state-of-the-art computer program, the Geographic
Integration System (GIS), which provides an easily accessible database of all aspects
of the 5,000 sq km site.
In Tokyo, UNESCO representative in Cambodia, Ricard Englehart, distributed as recently
made UNESCO video.
The video included guest appearances by archeologist and BLDP representative Son
Soubert, Culture Minister Nouth Narang, and Environment Minister Mok Mareth who all
attended the Tokyo conference.
Ms Dauge said UNESCO hoped the video gave "a good image on the interactive relationship
between the environment and the site" with the emphasis on "conservation
linked with development, not conservation versus development".
UNESCO Paris office presented a report along with the ZEMP plan and stressed the
immediate need for projects in areas such as water management, forestry, restoration
Some countries and organizations wanted to sponsor specific projects but as Culture
Minister Nouth Narang said, the Cambodian government must avoid having Angkor "cut
up like a cake".
To this end, at the beginning of November UNESCO is holding a tri-partite conference
with the Cambodian government and funding bodies such as the United Nations Development
UNDP has funded most of the work at Ankgor since UNESCO became involved four years
ago at the request of King Sihanouk.
The tri-partite conference will see the official presentation of ZEMP and it is hoped
the conference will see a final document for presentation to the World Heritage Committee.
Environmental Planning Consultant Dr Jonathan Wager was responsible for drafting
Speaking prior to the Tokyo conference, he was concerned about rivalries over Angkor
between Japan, France and UNESCO as well as within the Cambodian overnment.
But he thought the dominant theme in the Cambodian government was support of ZEMP.
Main points of the ZEMP draft plan include establishing a park management plan, or
at least a park agency, possibly with the help of the United States.
Details include development of visitor facilities, appropriate transport and access,
site, landscape and forestry management, training of guides, security and general
Sustainable rural development will be encouraged dependent on detailed studies on
water management, transport and road improvements and a development program for various
It is also proposed that the old part of Siem Riep town be declared an urban conservation
zone with planning restrictions, and that some of the area on the airport side be
declared an urban expansion zone.
The Tokyo Declaration noted and welcomed these provisions and stressed that international
cooperation in safeguarding and developing Angkor was important for the reconstruction