1.         Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) (Mali) (C/N 516)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (v)(vii)

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/516/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-2011)
Total amount approved: USD 98,640
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/516/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

On 22 March 2012 a military coup d’etat ousted the President of the Republic of Mali. The cause of this uprising was the difficulties linked to the conflict in the north of the country that, since mid-January 2012, opposed the Mali army to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), mainly supported by the Islamic groups Ansar Dine and Al Qu’aida in Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). The primary demand of the MNLA rebels concerns the territory called Azawad that covers three regions in north Mali: Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. These regions finally fell into MNLA rebel hands and Islamist groups on 1 April 2012. The populations evacuated the area in great numbers to seek refuge in other cities of Mali or frontier countries.

These regions contain two of the four World Heritage properties: Timbuktu – 1988 (C (ii), (iv), (v), serial property comprising three mosques and 16 tombs, and the Tomb of Askia – 2004 (C (ii), (iii), (iv)) in Gao. The two other World Heritage properties, the Old Towns of Djenné – 1988 (C (iii), (iv)) and the Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) – 1989 (C (v), (vii)) are located in the region of Mopti. In the face of this situation, the State Party addressed a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO dated 6 May 2012, to express the concern of the Mali authorities and requesting UNESCO assistance in the event that the situation should further deteriorate in the future. Thus, the Director-General immediately sent a mission to Bamako from 18 to 20 May, with the objective of gathering detailed information on the current state of conservation of the World Heritage properties and the provisions that the Mali Government intended to put in place in view of the present situation in the northern part of the country. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/516/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

A part of the Land of the Dogons is occupied by rebel groups. This area concerns the Douenza located 150 km from the town of Sévaré-Mopti. The heritage of this area reflects the repercussions of this occupation. Indeed, all symbols of art sculpture or decoration is systematically destroyed. Thus, the Great Toguna (shelter for men) in the centre of Douenza has been destroyed and the carved pillars burnt. This situation has created a massive retreat of the communities towards the south (Bamako, Sikasso or Ségou). The Bandiagara Cultural Mission responsible for the management of the property has no further means (the State subventions have been halted since the beginning of the crisis) to ensure its mission of protection and conservation, which is an obstacle in the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

 

 

Results of the UNESCO mission of 18 to 20 May 2012

On 20 May 2012, the State Party addressed a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO, requesting that the World Heritage Committee inscribe the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 36th session in 2012.

The World Heritage Centre encouraged Mali to prepare a detailed state of conservation report and priorities for intervention on the World Heritage properties in Mali, in particular the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia and to request technical and financial assistance from UNESCO and the international community.

Mali committed to finalizing the documents of adhesion to the Second Protocol relating to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, in order to impose the obligation for the integral protection of its cultural properties, notably all the scientific collections that bear witness to the Golden Age, both spiritual and intellectual, of Timbuktu, as well as all the sites and monuments in this region. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that due to the armed conflict situation in the northern region of Mali, the present conditions do not permit the satisfactory management, protection and conservation of the World Heritage properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia. The situation is particularly worrying in Timbuktu where two tombs have been damaged and the biggest centre for manuscripts in west Africa has been damaged, rendering their conservation, already judged to be fragile, difficult. They also consider that the optimal conditions are no longer present to ensure the preservation of these properties and that they are threatened by a specific and proven imminent danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines.

They note with satisfaction the decision of the State Party to request the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They recommend that the Committee also encourage the State Party to request assistance from UNESCO and the international community to ensure the strengthened protection of the ensemble of its cultural properties, essential for the preservation of Mali culture, rich and tolerant, relating to the heritage of humankind. They confirm the need for the Committee to inscribe Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They are at the disposal of the State Party to prepare necessary corrective measures and the Desired state of conservation. Finally, they recommend that the Committee draw the attention of the State Party to the need to also safeguard all the properties inscribed on the Tentative List of Mali, located in the region of conflict. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.106

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Congratulates the State Party for having immediately expressed its concern regarding the worsening threats to the World Heritage cultural properties, in particular to Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia, and for having requested UNESCO assistance for measures to be undertaken in the event of a future deterioration of the situation;

3.   Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for having sent a mission to Mali to study with the State Party emergency measures to be taken to ensure the preservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and takes note of the report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali threatened by armed conflict in the northern region of Mali;

4.   Expresses its serious concern regarding the situation of armed conflict in the northern region of Mali and the seriousness of threats to the World Heritage properties following the degradation of the Timbuktu tombs, and the threats to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tomb of Askia;

5.   Considers that the optimal conditions are not present anymore to ensure the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia and that they are threatened by a specific and proven imminent danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;

6.   Decides to inscribe Timbuktu (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

7.   Also decides to inscribe the Tomb of Askia (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

8.   Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to prepare, in consultation with the State Party, all the corrective measures as well as a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, once a return to stability is effective in the northern region of Mali;

9.   Launches an appeal to the frontier States Parties to Mali (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal) to cooperate in the preparation of a joint conservation strategy for World Heritage properties of Mali and to combat the illicit traffic of cultural objects, in particular those linked to these properties;

10.  Also launches an appeal to the African Union and the CEDEAO in order that all the necessary measures may be undertaken to protect cultural heritage located in the northern region of Mali and to the international community to provide technical and financial support to ensure the strengthened protection of the World Heritage properties in Mali;

11.  Encourages the State Party to request emergency funding from the World Heritage Fund to implement the priority actions identified during the UNESCO mission, and also requests the assistance of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM to this end;

12.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2013, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and more particularly on the progress achieved regarding their Outstanding Universal Value for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,

2.   Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.   Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

4.   Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.   Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: