1.         Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin) (C 323bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    1985-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Corrective measures identified

a) Finalize the national legislative and administrative system for the protection of the cultural heritage of Benin;

b) Create new boundaries for the property and clearly indicate the buffer zone for the protection of its integrity;

c) Evaluate and update the property’s conservation and management plan, continue the restoration and conservation actions for the treatment of at least half of the structural elements of the property which are still considered to be gravely deteriorated. 

Timetable for the implementation of corrective measures:

2006:

a) Finalize the national legislative and administrative system for the protection of the cultural heritage of Benin;

b) Create new boundaries for the property and clearly indicate the buffer zone for the protection of its integrity;

c) Evaluate the property’s conservation and management plan,

2007:

a) Update the property’s conservation and management plan,

b) Continue the restoration and conservation actions for the treatment of at least half of the structural elements of the property which are still considered to be gravely deteriorated.  

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/323/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1985-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 113,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/323/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount allocated to the property: In 1998, USD 400,000 were granted by the Japanese Government for the restoration of the Behanzin Palace. In 2005, USD 25,000 were granted by Riksantikvaren (Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage) for the implementation of an action plan defined in Decision 28 COM 15A.14.

Previous monitoring missions

2004: Joint ICOMOS/World Heritage Centre mission; 2006: World Heritage Centre/CRATerre-ENSAG/Getty Conservation Institute monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) No national legislative system for the protection of cultural heritage;

b) No delimitation and protection measures for the buffer zone;

c) Management plan not yet updated;

d) Grave degradation of nearly two thirds of the mud brick buildings. 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/323/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

Since October 2004, the State Party has initiated a series of activities, as foreseen in the framework of the action plan defined by the Committee in its Decision 28 COM 15A.14, to enable the Committee to consider the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007. The action plan defined by the Committee focuses on the implementation of three major activities (a) the creation of a national system for the protection of cultural heritage; (b) the establishment of a buffer zone around the property; (c) the evaluation and updating of the management plan and; (d) the continuation of the conservation activities to safeguard the remaining original vestiges of mud brick constructions.

In September 2005, the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee granted financial assistance of USD 17,298 to the State Party. The amount was earmarked for the following activities:

a) the production of technical documents for the promulgation of a municipal decree concerning the buffer zone of the site;

b) the purchase of computer equipment to improve the administrative and financial management of the site;

c) the organisation of a technical mission of international experts to evaluate the previous management plan, to make recommendations for the new plan, and to draw up a strategic plan for the conservation of the mud brick structures still standing.

From 12 to 18 February 2006, a technical mission of experts from the World Heritage Centre, the Centre international de construction en terre (CRATerre-ENSAG) and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) visited Benin to evaluate the progress made in the implementation of the action plan. The mission made the following observations:

a) Legal framework:

A draft law for the protection of cultural and natural heritage specifically pertaining to the culture of Benin was transmitted to the President of the Republic on 31 October 2005, for examination by the National Assembly.

b) Creation of a buffer zone:

Delimitation with three main zones and regulations adapted to each of the zones has been elaborated. Prior to its validation by municipal decree, all concerned parties are being informed and consulted. A mechanism to monitor the application of urban regulations is also on the verge of being set up.

c) Evaluation of the 1999 Management Plan:

Even if significant progress has been made in the management system of the site (existence of a management board, financial control, creation of an accountant position, mobilisation of financial resources for conservation work), proving a true and visible national capacity for intervention, this concerns only a limited part of the site (one third of the site). Technical solutions still remain to be found for restorations, to make them longer lasting. At the same time, degradation continues on the remaining two thirds of the property, and certain components are at great risk, such as the Kpengla and Houegbadja Palaces. Finally, major orientations for the future management plan (2007-2012), the drafting of which should begin in June 2006, have already been identified. They concern in particular: (i) strengthening of capacities for particular actions; (ii) improvement of the preventive conservation measures and restoration procedures; (iii) improvement of the presentation and interpretation of the site.

d) Work to eliminate threats to the structures (short- and medium-term)

The most significant structures, essential to the recognition of the universal value of the Royal Palaces of Abomey, have been jointly identified by the experts and the Benin authorities. Urgent intervention should be recommended for them. In order to comply with the Committee’s action plan, clear priorities have been identified for the following palaces: Agoli Agbo Palace, Kpengla Palace, Agadja Palace, Houégbadja Palace, Akaba Palace, and Dossèmè Quarter.

Finally, the mission recommended that ICOMOS undertake a mission in 2007 to assess the progress made in the implementation of the Committee’s action plan, in order to make recommendations for the removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007. 

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7A.16

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7A.13, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Congratulates the State Party for the efforts made concerning the establishment of a national cultural heritage law, the acquisition of a property title for the site, the delimitation of a buffer zone around the property, and for the management system of the site;

4. Encourages the State Party to pursue the implementation of the action plan and the work to eliminate threats to the structures;

5. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission to the property to evaluate the implementation of the action plan and to make recommendations to the Committee for the removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger and to report on this to the Committee at its 31st session in 2007;

6. Decides to retain the Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-06/30.COM/7A and WHC-06/30.COM/7A.Add.Rev),

2. Maintains the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

   • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 30 COM 7A.22)

   • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley, (Decision 30 COM 7A.23)

   • Azerbaijan, Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (Decision 30 COM 7A.29

   • Benin, Royal Palaces of Abomey (Decision 30 COM 7A.16)

   • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.1)

   • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 30 COM 7A.31)

   • Côte d'Ivoire, Comoé National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.2)

   • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.3)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.8)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.6)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Virunga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.7)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Garamba National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.4)

   • Democratic Rep. of the Congo Salonga National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.5)

   • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 30 COM 7A.19)

   • Ethiopia, Simien National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.9)

   • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 30 COM 7A.15)

   • India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Decision 30 COM 7A.13)

   • Islamic Republic of Iran, Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Decision 30 COM 7A.25)

   • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 30 COM 7A.20)

   • Jerusalem, Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (Decision 30 COM 7A.34)

   • Nepal, Kathmandu Valley (Decision 30 COM 7A.26)

   • Niger, Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 30 COM 7A.10)

   • Pakistan, Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Decision 30 COM 7A.27)

   • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 30 COM 7A.32)

   • Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Decision 30 COM 7A.28)

   • United Republic of Tanzania, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara (Decision 28 COM 7A.17)

   • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 30 COM 7A.14)

   • Venezuela, Coro and its Port (Decision 30 COM 7A.33)

   • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 30 COM 7A.21)