1.         Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou (Morocco) (C 444)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1987

Criteria  (iv)(v)

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/444/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 2,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/444/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

August 2000: World Heritage Centre expert mission; October-November 2002: joint UNESCO/UNDP mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/444/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003


Following the request expressed by the Committee during its 26thsession, the State Party submitted, in March 2003, a new report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report dated August 2000, and comprising: 

This report emphasizes that the nomination process had been initiated since 1994 and reactivated in 2001.  During the Inter-ministerial Listing Commission meeting in April 2001, an agreement for the listing of the site was announced on condition that the Communal Council be consulted.  The Council recently gave its favourable decision, and the listing might be announced before the end of 2003.  The State Party has informed the Secretariat that at present the site is protected under a legal instrument that takes into consideration the environmental and cultural characteristics of the Ksar.  Many areas are constrained by non-aedificandi and non-altius-tollendi prohibitions. 

With regard to the strengthening of the CERKAS, the State Party informed the Centre that prior to granting this institution the status of an autonomously managed service (SEGMA), the Ministry of Finance suggested that it define, in a timeframe of two years, its new mission as a service supplier and that it prove that it is sufficiently reliable as regards staffing, technical and financial aspects. In the framework of its activities, CERKAS has carried out since 2001 a systematic inventory by aerial photography of the cultural heritage of the Draa Valley in cooperation with Swiss partners.  Under this project, CERKAS obtained computer equipment and has expanded its team, but its functioning budget has not been increased. In February 2003, it was decided to extend this project to the Ksar.  A project for the creation of an antenna for CERKAS inside the Ksar is being studied. 

In 2002, the State Party informed the Committee that an Inter-ministerial Management Commission for the site had been created and was meeting every two weeks to discuss the state of conservation of the site and measures to be undertaken.  The new report dated March 2003, gave the impression that the Commission had only been constituted during the last visit of an expert from the Centre at Ouarzazate on 31 October 2002.  The Province of Ouarzazate and CERKAS will be the coordinators for the Provincial Services and will ensure the permanent secretariat of the Interministerial Management Commission.  The report indicates that at present the members of the Bureau of this Commission have not yet been designated, and that no rules of procedure or regular budget have been fixed.  The State Party, which should have provided concrete information as to the creation of a working group responsible for the preparation of a management plan, informed the Centre that currently a working group (CERKAS) was undertaking a new reflection on the formulation of objectives and strategy for site intervention with the support of the UNESCO Office in Rabat and UNDP. 

CERKAS has also undertaken the inventory of all the existing documentation at site, as well as a study of its cadastral situation.  In parallel, the State Party underlined that the site is in a state of quasi-total abandon and is greatly degraded.  In spite of efforts to control degradation thanks to a provincial commission, the number of offences committed in the old Ksar continues to increase. There is an urgent need to establish efficient means to control these offences and to identify the responsible parties before undertaking any kind of safeguarding or presentation activities.  The lack of any kind of global vision or a coherent methodology does not facilitate the mission of CERKAS.  The report indicates the need for the following actions: - signature of an Interministerial Convention making the safeguarding of the site a national priority and expressing the firm commitment of all the departments; setting up of a system of financial aid exclusively for the inhabitants to encourage them to repair and restore their properties.


The Centre sent the report from the Secretary General of the Moroccan Ministry of Culture on the state of progress in the management and development of this World Heritage site to ICOMOS for comment. This frankly acknowledges the lamentable state of conservation of this partly abandoned site and sets out the problems confronting the problems of conservation and management of this and comparable sites in the south of Morocco, more recently exacerbated by a significant growth of tourism, a passive attitude on the part of the local inhabitants, a negative attitude by property owners towards proposals for purchase, leasing, or partnership, and internal dissensions.

In 1990 the Ministry of Culture set up a Centre for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of the Architectural Heritage of the Atlas and Sub-Atlas Zones (CERKAS). Protection of the Ksar Aït Ben Haddou was identified as its priority project. A number of projects, including the restoration of the mosque, paving of alleys, cleaning and rehabilitation of covered passages, and the installation of protective gabions against flooding, were carried out between 1992 and 1995, financed by UNDP. However, the role of CERKAS was drastically curtailed when its contracts with UNDP, UNESCO, and other international bodies expired in 1994.

Following the creation of a provincial regulatory commission two years ago, regular inspections of the site have been carried out to identify illicit constructions and other offences against the regulations. In spite of this, the number of such offences continues to rise. It is recognized to be a matter of urgency to introduce effective measures for combating these offences and identifying those responsible for them. The report highlights the urgent need for statutory protection of the site, an action that has been delayed because of the complex legal status of the properties that make it up. It also argues strongly for CERKAS to be reconstituted as a public or autonomous agency and given resources adequate to perform its role. Despite the setting up of several committees for the purpose, there is still no management plan for the site.

In October 2002 a management committee was set up, with representatives from the various interests involved. The coordinators will be the Province of Ouarzazate and CERKAS, which will be responsible for the creation of a working team and providing the necessary resources. Preliminary work has begun on the outlines of the plan. ICOMOS commends the State Party for the action that it has taken, but, whilst appreciating the reasons for delay, expresses regret that the original timetable for action has not been adhered to. It recommends that the Committee should express guarded approval of what has been accomplished, while at the same time urging the State Party to redouble its efforts to improve the present unsatisfactory situation at KsarAït Ben Haddou. 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.41

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having taken note of the report submitted by the State Party in March 2003, concerning the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report dated August 2000,;

2. Expresses its concern regarding the information on the state of abandon of the property, the increase of offences in the old Ksar and its state of degradation, the lack of legal protection, delay in the establishment of a technical and administrative structure responsible for the property as well as in the elaboration of a management plan for its safeguarding and presentation;

3. Recalls its concern regarding the implementation of projects at the property when the listing procedure is not yet completed, especially in the absence of an appropriate management plan, prepared according to the recognized international scientific standards, as well as a management structure capable of guaranteeing the general technical coordination and control of the various initiatives;

4. Reiterates once again its request to the Moroccan authorities to adopt, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, the necessary legal and financial measures for the creation of a specialised technical team and the preparation of the management plan of the property, and to this end, encourages the State Party to request emergency assistance from the World Heritage Fund if necessary;

5. Urges the State Party to finalise the procedure for the national listing of the property and to create by decree an institution, with legal authority, resources and adequate financial means to elaborate a management plan and its technical and administrative implementation at the property, before 31 December 2003,

6. Decides to reconsider the property's inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 28th session in 2004;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2004, a progress report on the implementation of the afore-mentioned measures in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session  in 2004.