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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/444/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2005)
Total amount approved: USD 22,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/444/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

Reactive Monitoring mission in September 2003; World Heritage Centre mission in November 2003; UNESCO-Rabat mission in March 2005; Joint UNESCO-ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission in April 2006.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Near total abandonment of the property;

b) Gully erosion;

c) Rock falls due to erosion;

d) Increased offences in the old ksar and its degradation;

e) Delays in the establishment of a technical and administrative structure responsible for the site;

f) Lack of a Conservation management plan for the property;

g) Uncontrolled tourism and visitor pressure.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

As requested by the Committee, the State Party submitted a report, dated 25 January 2006, in which it provided information about the progress made regarding conservation and management of the property. The multi-sectoral committee, presided by the Governor of Ouarzazate and composed of CERKAS (Centre de Conservation et de Réhabilitation du Patrimoine Architectural des Zones Atlasiques et Subatlasiques), a delegation of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Housing, division of Urbanism and local authorities, continued their work on site to prevent and control violations against planning and building regulations. The Ministry of Culture and CERKAS, assisted by CRATerre (Centre International de la Construction en Terre) and in coordination with UNESCO Rabat and UNDP, had started the drafting of a site management plan following the decentralization of the USD 20,000 international assistance from the World Heritage Fund. Issues of conservation and the physical deterioration of the site were being addressed with a strategy for action, involving a wide range of stakeholders and under supervision of the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the report included details of the request for human and financial resources made to the Prime Minister and to be allocated to CERKAS to strengthen local management on site.

UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS undertook a reactive monitoring mission to assess whether the site met the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The mission took place from 21 to 25 April 2006. It reviewed the implementation of the decisions of the World Heritage Committee, evaluated the overall state of conservation of the site, assessed if it met the criteria for danger listing and elaborated a programme of priorities to strengthen conservation and management.

The mission noted that conditions on site were not as alarming as previous reports had suggested and that rehabilitation work had been recently carried out on many structures, with due respect for authenticity, including the ramming of earth into shuttering. Nevertheless, inappropriate development did take place, especially in some recently constructed small shops, and a carpet workshop for women now under construction in the Ksar that had a concrete post and beam structure. The recommendation to establish a management structure has partly been implemented, as two committees had been established, at the local and the inter-ministerial level, while a request for reinforcement of CERKAS had been submitted to the Prime Minister.

The mission concluded that the State Party was engaged at several levels, from the local to the national, in setting up structures, plans and guidelines, as requested by the World Heritage Committee, through consultation and coordination processes. While full implementation had not yet taken place, the first results and impact of the work of the committees and CERKAS on the state of conservation of the site were noticeable and positive. There was a professional and technically competent conservation manual, prepared by CRATerre, that had just been published, with support from UNESCO, with the majority of interventions being implemented accordingly; this manual is going to be used to sensitize and educate the property owners and the general public in the Ksar; a management plan is under preparation based on an integrated approach with long-term vision, including visitor control; as well as an emergency action plan with priorities that the mission adapted for benchmarking.

Furthermore, the mission assessed the validity of the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger and concluded that at the moment the Outstanding Universal Value of Ksar Aït-Ben-Haddou had not been compromised. Only the issue of Lack of conservation policy might have possibly justified consideration for danger listing, but the on-going process to set up an adequate conservation framework appeared to have gained sufficient momentum and the necessary elements were being put in place. The mission was of the opinion that this policy could be established soon and proposes to allow the process of conservation management more time to develop satisfactorily. To facilitate this, the mission established benchmarks for the future assessment of the effectiveness of measures taken by the State Party.

These benchmarks, to be effectively implemented by 1 February 2008 included:

a) Establishment of an effective and transparent management structure, with legal powers, adequate financing and technical staffing. The mission noted that CERKAS should be given this role and be strengthened, technically, professionally and financially, to establish a permanent presence on site.

b) Establishment of a mechanism for collection of revenues (from the film industry, visitors, marketing, etc.) and re-distribution to benefit conservation management of the site. The mission further noted that until such mechanism has been established, a financial injection by the Government of Morocco is needed to reinforce CERKAS and its conservation activities.

c) Establishment of a Special Decree or by-laws to mandate interventions regarding ownership issues in relation to planning activities, particularly for structures in a critical state.

d) Finalization of the Draft and formal adoption of the management plan.

e) Continuation of preventive conservation measures with increased programming in respect of the buildings requiring urgent intervention to prevent further decay and deterioration, to be developed simultaneously with setting up the management plan.

Failure to respond to the benchmarks, and the absence of guardianship and continuous conservation and monitoring through a permanent management structure on site, might lead the Committee to reconsider Danger listing in the future.

The State Party should be commended for the efforts made to address the many conservation challenges on this site. The recent World Heritage Centre-ICOMOS mission made a clear distinction between perceived and real threats to the outstanding universal value of the site. However, it is to be noted that the completion of an effective integrated site management plan requires the full participation of the management authority who will have the responsibility to implement the plan; at this stage, while two overview Committees identified in the report (a local committee that comprised representatives of local and national stakeholders, and an inter-ministerial Committee, focused on improving cooperation at the highest level) have been created, it should be understood that these Committees can not substitute for a much needed local management authority, not yet in place. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS strongly support the recommendation of the mission report that a separate management entity “would be needed that has a permanent presence on site, with the authority to work on the day-today management, and capable of reporting to all parties.” 

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


Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7B.45

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decisions 28 COM 15B.6 and 29 COM 7B.43, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004) and 29th (Durban, 2005) sessions respectively,

3. Takes note of the report of the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission which took place from 21-25 April 2006;

4. Commends the State Party for having committed itself at the highest level to address the issues of concern expressed through the decisions of the Committee, particularly through the creation of local and inter-ministerial committees that guide action and notes with satisfaction the initiation of a site management plan based on an integrated approach;

5. Notes that, although the property's Outstanding Universal Value has not been compromised, without strengthened management supported by an integrated site management plan, the situation could become critical;

6. Urges the State Party to implement the recommendations issued by the World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission of 2006 and endorses the following benchmarks to be effectively implemented by 1 February 2008 for the future assessment of the effectiveness of measures to be taken by the State Party:

a) Adoption and implementation of a permanent and effective separate Management structure;

b) Establishment of a mechanism for collection of revenues on site and re-distribution to benefit conservation management of the property;

c) Establishment of a Special Decree or by-laws to mandate interventions regarding ownership issues in relation to planning activities, particularly for structures in a critical state;

d) Finalization, formal adoption and implementation of the management plan;

e) Continuation of preventive conservation measures with increased programming in respect of the buildings requiring urgent intervention to prevent further decay;

7. Requests the State Party to finalise the draft of the management plan and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007;

8. Recommends that the State Party invite a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission before the next session of the Committee in 2007 to monitor progress and support the Moroccan Government in its activities to achieve the benchmarks by 1 February 2008;

9. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with an updated report by 1 February 2007 on the state of conservation of the property, and on the progress achieved in meeting each of the above-mentioned benchmarks, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in 2007.