During its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), and following the information regarding the Management and Conservation Plan established for the period 2006-2010, the Committee reiterated its decision not to reinscribe Timbuktu on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Having been informed of a construction project on the land opposite the Sankoré Mosque, for a Cultural Centre to safeguard the ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu, the Committee drew the attention of the State Party to the impact this could have on the outstanding value of this important property on the World Heritage List. In its Decision 30 COM 7B.36, the Committee had invited Mali to review this architectural project taking into consideration the recommendations of the March 2006 World Heritage Centre mission.
On 7 February 2007, the State Party submitted its report on the state of conservation of Timbuktu to the World Heritage Centre. This report gave information regarding progress made in the implementation of the management and conservation plan, and provided the following information:
a) Djingareyber Mosque: The problems regarding the evacuation of rainwater have been resolved by paving work around the mosque, thanks to funding under Timbuktu’s “Third Urban Project”. The façades and the minaret of the Mosque were rough-casted on the occasion of the Maouloud Festival in April 2006, and a building for toilets was constructed. The latter is currently undergoing corrective measures as its architecture does not fit in with the Sudano-Sahalien architecture of the Mosque. The report also mentions a big restoration project between the Mali authorities and the Aga Khan Foundation for a duration of four years.
b) Sidi Yahia Mosque: Thanks to conservation work carried out in 2005, the state of conservation of the Mosque has remained satisfactory. Only the paving work at the main entrance and the evacuation of rainwater of the prayer courtyard were carried out in 2006.
c) Mausoleums : The seven large cemeteries (Diamane Hamane, Sidi Mahamoud, Alpha Moya, Sidi Elmoctar, Idje Tchina Sarey, Sidi El Wafi, Cheik Sidi Ahmed ben Amar) were fenced in.
d) The old town faces some problems, as follows: degradaton of buildings, increase of dwellings in ruins, 280 of which require attention for their safeguarding, stagnant waters in the rainy season and finally a progressive shift of earthern covered houses towards those of alhor stone.
e) Sankoré Mosque: The construction of the Ahmed Baba Centre, which began in July 2006, is located in the buffer zone, at about 25m north of the Mosque. This construction site is experiencing delays in the execution of the work due to contractual problems with the South African building company Xaler. The report indicates that the different actors of the project are committed to respecting the UNESCO recommendation regarding the size, typology, construction technology and building materials, as the present state of the architectural project would allow for a modification of its main façade. The seeking of solutions for this modification was consequently entrusted to the Xaler Company. But it is already foreseen that only one wall in the Sudano-Sahelien style be built on the main façade in such a way as to hide the structural posts of the building and limit the visual impact. Moreover, the development of the historic square of Sankoré, taking into account the integration of the new building of the Ahmed Baba Centre, is one of the priority projects in the framework of the “Fourth Urban Project” of Mali which will be executed in agreement with the World Bank. Consequently, the report considered it difficult and even impossible to envisage at this stage a negative impact of the new site for the Ahmed Baba Institute.
The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS draw the Committee’s attention to two important matters which result from the report of the State Party. With regard to the revision of the architectural project of the Ahmed Baba Cultural Centre, the commitment of the State Party to modify the main façade of the project would not be sufficient to limit the negative visual impact of this project on the Sankoré Mosque. To date, the State Party has not yet provided the new technical documents allowing an objective evaluation of this modification. Taking into consideration the commencement of the work since July 2006, there is an urgent need for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission to visit the site and evaluate the progress of the work and advise the Mali authorities on the urgent provisions to be undertaken at the start of the work. With regard to the new restoration project for the Djingareyberre Mosque, and in view its scape envisaged by the Aga Khan Foundation, the Mali authorities are requested to provide all the technical documents on the restoration work foreseen to the World Heritage Centre as quickly as possible, so that they may be studied by ICOMOS; and the Committee should ensure that the said work is in line with the strategic conservation plan and the management plan.