1.         Robben Island (South Africa) (C 916)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

Joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission 6 to 12 February 2004

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

Following the joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission to the property in February 2004 the State Party was requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004) (Decision 28 COM 15A.40) to implement the recommendations of the mission and to submit a detailed report on its progress.  The State Party forwarded to the Centre on 3 February 2005 the following documentation prepared by the Robben Island Museum (RIM), which was transmitted to the Advisory Bodies for review: Progress Report, Services Section Report for incorporation in the Robben Island Museum Integrated Management Plan, Draft Project Proposal Extended Environmental Monitoring at Robben Island World Heritage property in cooperation with Earth Watch Institute, Draft of Memorandum of Understanding between Robben Island Museum and The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA).  The World Heritage Centre noted with satisfaction that RIM had followed up on the mission by establishing a task force to steer its implementation and that a Heritage Manager had been appointed.  The World Heritage Centre has also been informed that conservation and heritage management activities are being organized for the Robert Sobukwe house and for the Lime Stone Quarry. 

ICOMOS and ICCROM noted that the reality of managing a property which is under tremendous visitation pressure places the Robben Island Museum in a very difficult position, and potentially put the property at increasing risk. 

ICOMOS and ICCROM further noted, on the basis of the presented Progress Report, that progress to date has been slow and that of the five major recommendations particularly emphasized by the World Heritage Committee, the following appeared:

a)  Whilst planning for an integrated Conservation Management Plan has recommenced, substantial work still needs to be done in order to complete the exercise;

b)  The Phase 1 ‘Tourism Development Plan’ has not been reviewed or its recommendations implemented, leaving continued tourism pressures on the site;

c)  The Memorandum of Understanding with the Public Works Department has not yet been formalised.  The annual resource provision and timing for maintenance and conservation works for the property remains uncertain;

d)  The 2003 Memorandum of Understanding with South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) has been agreed but is still not yet signed.  No information is available as to whether the mission recommendation for SAHRA to “second staff into RIM to assist in getting the conservation, maintenance and heritage issues regularized” has yet been considered;.

e)  The establishment of a World Heritage Management Authority for the Island, to reinforce the work of the Heritage Manager, has not yet been agreed;

f)  Regional environmental and institutional linkages have been initially explored with potentially useful results, the outcomes of which are yet to be seen.

The World Heritage Centre took note of a newspaper article dated 21 April 2005 reporting that the co-interim director and former prisoner on the Island, was appointed as Chief Executive Officer.  His appointment is a welcome development in view of the restructuring of the management system on Robben Island.  ICOMOS and ICCROM recommend that a framework of priorities and timetable for action, including identification of funding sources, need to be prepared. 

The fact that the RIM progress report addresses only five of the 19 issues recommended for implementation by the Mission Report must also be a matter of concern.  Of the five concerns addressed by the RIM Progress Report, the details given are not sufficient to provide a clear picture of the nature of progress made so far.  Apart from the integrated Conservation Management Plan no timeframes are given for the other issues.  There is no indication in the progress report as to what has been done to investigate or resolve the remaining matters. 

ICOMOS and ICCROM conclude that, with a vulnerable property such as Robben Island, physical deterioration and tourism impacts can have permanent effects that will damage its World Heritage values.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.39

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15A.40, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Commends the State Party of South Africa and the Robben Island Museum for starting the implementation of the recommendations of the joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission;

4. Takes note of the appointment of the Robben Island Museum Chief Executive Officer;

5. Encourages the State Party and the Robben Island Museum to continue the ongoing development of an integrated management plan and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2006, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

6. Urges the State Party and the Robben Island Museum, with the assistance of the Advisory Bodies, to set priorities for the implementation of all the recommendations made by the joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a progress report on the implementation of the recommendations made by the joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission by 1 February 2006, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).