The World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008) noted that it considered the World Heritage property to be seriously threatened and encouraged the State Party to ensure that contemporary interventions would not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. The World Heritage Committee further urged the State Party to improve site management by implementing the recently adopted Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan, by urgently appointing a site manager for the property and also by coordinating the support of international partners around World Heritage Committee recommendations. Finally the Committee requested the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.
The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage property on 30 January 2009. The report notes the need for an interim Committee of Management (Safeguarding Committee) while waiting for the management mechanisms requested by the World Heritage Committee in its previous sessions and which require significant operating and budget support. The State Party report noted that it remained in favour of the organisation of an international donors meeting in co-operation with UNESCO, an initiative which awaited the signature of an agreement between the World Heritage Centre and the Department of Culture. The State Party also reports on three very significant projects which constitute significant advances in conservation of the property (including the rehabilitation of the Faidherbe Bridge, improvements to the mouth of the Senegal River, and of the Rognat South building). The State Party report also notes that in spite of the improvement of the situation, the soon-to-be-created Safeguarding Committee will be confronted by some serious challenges including the continuing appearance of new structures incompatible with the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, and which will need demolition or rectification, and that a list of such properties will be provided to the World Heritage Centre. And finally, the State Party report notes that it awaits Periodic Reporting Exercise modalities to be defined by the 33rd session, in relation to preparation of Statements of Outstanding Universal Value.
A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission was carried out from 14-20 February 2009 to the World Heritage property. The mission listed a number of successful rehabilitation workshops taking place in relation to restoration projects. These are being supported through significant levels of international co-operation involving Spain, Wallonia-Brussels, and France. The mission report also regretted that modern constructions ignoring prevailing material use and architectural typologies continue to appear, and to affect the integrity of the property.
The mission also noted that the State Party had not responded to requests made by the Committee at its 32nd session to improve site management: the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan had still not been implemented, and the designation of a site manager had not taken place. The mission further noted that the conservation and management plan requested by the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission of 2006 had not been implemented, and the administrative and physical conditions necessary to establish the Maison du Patrimoine had not been provided. The mission noted that this continuing legal and management void was responsible for the lack of control exercised on the issuing of building permits for rehabilitation, restoration and new construction.
On the positive side, the mission noted the signature of a Decree on 20 February 2009 establishing a Safeguarding Committee for Saint-Louis, linking representatives of the State, the municipality, and key public leaders, to assistin implementing the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan.
The mission report made the following recommendations:
- The Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan must be urgently implemented, and harmonized with the Plan for Urban Development, particularly in relation to the buffer zone;
- The recently established Safeguarding Committee should begin to function while waiting for appointment of a site manager;
- The site manager must be appointed urgently to work under the direction of the safeguarding Committee, and to implement the decisions of the World Heritage Committee, and to direct the activities of the Maison du Patrimoine;
- The process of elaborating a conservation and management plan, as an indispensable complement to the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan, must be begun urgently in order to co-ordinate effectively interventions on site. This plan will help anticipate conservation problems and regulate land use including re-use of many large pieces of land both private and belonging to the Ministry of Defense;
- It is important to find ways to give more visibility to excellent examples of restoration work, including use of heritage plaques and awards;
- The idea of a donor’s meeting for 2010-2011 should be re-launched;
- Efforts for enhancement and sustainable tourism should be supported and encouraged in Saint-Louis and the region.
The mission, in evaluating the state of danger of the property noted an improvement in the overall state of conservation of the property, linked to the strong mobilization of all the concerned actors. It also noted however the urgent need to implement the various management mechanisms mentioned above, and to take further efforts to create a synergy among all efforts directed to implementing the requests of the World Heritage Committee, notably in terms of reinforcing the heritage craftsmanship and skills which are lacking. The mission concluded by noting that there are no ascertained and potential dangers, and therefore no need at present to continue consider the possibility of inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are concerned that the State Party has not been able to fully respond to the requests made by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session to improve site management, including implementation of the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan, and the designation of a site manager, and that preparation of a conservation and management plan has not begun, and further that in the management void identified by the mission, illegal and inappropriate constructions which threaten the integrity of the property and its Outstanding Universal Value continue to take place.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that in the absence of progress made in improving the state of conservation of the property in 2010, in particular on issues related to improving site management and implementing the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan, a new joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM monitoring mission will have to be undertaken to examine possible and ascertained or potential threats (as defined by Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines) and to assist in setting up an appropriate mechanism for the sustainable conservation of the property,for review by the World Heritage Committee.