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

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

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

April 1985: UNESCO mission; July 1995: experts mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The twelve Royal Palaces of Abomey which are situated in a vast area of 44 hectares are the shared responsibility of the Royal Families and the Heritage Directorate of Benin. Since 1955 this site received support from the PREMA Benin II Project, financed by the Italian Government. This project has permitted the restoration of the Abomey Museum installed in two of the twelve palaces of the classified site (Guézo and Glélé), as well as the conception and the implementation of a better conservation policy for the buildings. Preventive action has been taken; a maintenance manual has been prepared and recommendations for the management of the site elaborated. The training of craftsmen, including representatives of the Royal Families and personnel from the Heritage Directorate, has also been assured, thanks to funding from the World Heritage Fund.

Furthermore, the Abomey Museum has received funds from the Getty Conservation Institute, the Organizational Committee for the Francophonie Summit and funds granted by the Director-General of UNESCO to the UNESCO National Commission, which have permitted the restoration of the bas reliefs, the implementation of restoration work of several buildings and the reconstruction of another (Fagbassa Palace of King Guézo).

Although in the framework of the PREMA Benin II Project action had been undertaken for the benefit of the whole site, and in particular the collection of complete documentation (gathering of nearly 140 works and documents) with also support from the World Heritage Fund, the conservation activities only concerned the Museum itself, which is about one-fifth of the classified site.

The World Heritage Centre, in partnership with the PREMA Benin II Project, concerned by the state of conservation of the palaces, has furthermore completed the work carried out by a mission, in July 1995, to indicate the precise classified boundaries and to take into consideration the anthropological dimension of the site, which is very much alive. In its report, the mission emphasized the need to establish a management plan for the whole site, including the officials of the Heritage Directorate (DPC); local associations, the Town Hall of Abomey and the Royal families. The Committee, having taken note in December 1995 of the recommendations of the above-mentioned report, "commended the Benin authorities and invited them to prepare, in co-operation with CRATerre-EAG and ICCROM, a conservation and management plan to be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-first session (December 1997)." Although the statutes of the management structure had already been defined, it was not yet operational. A special effort should be made to allow for the clear expression of the original culture, its evolution in history and its present status. The initial framework for a conservation and management plan has prepared to be presented for discussion during the International Conference organized in September 1997, at the time of the termination of the PREMA Benin II Project, and which brings together 80 Benin and international specialists. However, in view of the size of the site, its complexity and the number of existing structures, this plan should be tested and revised before being presented to the Committee.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.B.24

VII.24 Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin)

Having taken note of the amount of work accomplished at the site:

i) collection and analysis of documentation;

ii) elaboration of a maintenance plan for the buildings;

iii) training of craftsmen in co-operation with representatives of the Royal families;

iv) consideration of the anthropological dimension of the site;

v) site of living culture, international meeting "Present-Past-Future" on the Royal Palaces of Abomey which was held in Abomey in September 1997, bringing together international and governmental organizations;

vi) request for international assistance presented by Benin in November 1997 for the elaboration of the conservation plan,

the Committee invited the Benin authorities on the one hand, to continue their efforts to present to the twenty-second session of the Committee the draft conservation and enhancement plan of the whole site, taking into account the report's recommendations and conclusions of the above-mentioned meeting, and on the other, to co-ordinate international technical and financial support from which the site could still benefit.