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Timbuktu

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 2012*
  • Civil unrest
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
  • War
  • Other Threats:

    Inappropriate design and scale of new Ahmed Baba Cultural Centre in the vicinity of the Sankoré Mosque; lack of detailed drawings supplied to the Committee

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

On 22 March 2012 a military coup d’etat ousted the President of the Republic of Mali. The cause of this uprising was the difficulties linked to the conflict in the north of the country that, since mid-January 2012, opposed the Mali army to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), mainly supported by the Islamic groups Ansar Dine and Al Qu’aida in Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). The primary demand of the MNLA rebels concerns the territory called Azawad that covers three regions in north Mali: Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal. These regions finally fell into MNLA rebel hands and Islamist groups on 1 April 2012. The populations evacuated the area in great numbers to seek refuge in other cities of Mali or frontier countries.

These regions contain two of the four World Heritage properties: Timbuktu – 1988 (C (ii), (iv), (v), serial property comprising three mosques and 16 tombs, and the Tomb of Askia – 2004 (C (ii), (iii), (iv)) in Gao. The two other World Heritage properties, the Old Towns of Djenné – 1988 (C (iii), (iv)) and the Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) – 1989 (C (v), (vii)) are located in the region of Mopti. In the face of this situation, the State Party addressed a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO dated 6 May 2012, to express the concern of the Mali authorities and requesting UNESCO assistance in the event that the situation should further deteriorate in the future. Thus, the Director-General immediately sent a mission to Bamako from 18 to 20 May, with the objective of gathering detailed information on the current state of conservation of the World Heritage properties and the provisions that the Mali Government intended to put in place in view of the present situation in the northern part of the country. 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2012
Requests approved: 7 (from 1981-2012)
Total amount approved : 188,315 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 4 May 2012, the Cheick Sidi Mahmoud Tomb of Timbuktu, one of the 16 tombs comprising the property inscribed on the World Heritage List, was damaged by the Ansar Dine Group. The door and the windows were torn down, and the white curtain that separates the sepulcher from the place of worship where the faithful pray, was burnt. People present at the time of the incident were violently threatened. Several stelae were destroyed. This degradation of the tomb of this erudite place marks the worsening of threats to World Heritage in Timbuktu. The same Ansar Dine group also vandalized the Cheick Mouhamed Tamba-Tamba Tomb, also part of the inscribed World Heritage property. This tomb is located within the military camp occupied by the Ansar Dine group.

Three weeks earlier, on 10 April 2012, the former premises of the Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research (IHERI-AB) that constitutes the biggest centre for manuscripts of West Africa, created in 1974 with UNESCO support, were damaged as well as other cultural institutes in Timbuktu by the Ansar Dine group. The IHERI-AB possesses a valuable collection of nearly 30,000 documents with many dating back to the Golden Age of Timbuktu, the cultural crossroads and centre of learning. During their visit, the rebels questioned the importance and value of the manuscripts, which has worried the owners of the private libraries of manuscripts for fear of threats of destruction and confiscation. This situation is a cause for concern on the part of UNESCO and the international community, all the more so as it exposes the manuscripts to illicit traffic and even destruction that may occur during their transfer, as many of them are originals of great commercial value and also in a fragile and bad state of conservation.

Moreover, the new building of the IHERI-AB located opposite the Sankore Tomb, built in 2009 with support from the Government of South Africa, to welcome researchers worldwide and better conserve the manuscripts than in the former building, has also been occupied and transformed into a mosque by the Ansar Dine group.

The Timbuktu Cultural Mission, the decentralized service of the State responsible for the management of the World Heritage property, is closed due to the conflict, and therefore cannot ensure the daily management in the protection and conservation of the property.

 

Results of the UNESCO mission of 18 to 20 May 2012

On 20 May 2012, the State Party addressed a letter to the Director-General of UNESCO, requesting that the World Heritage Committee inscribe the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 36th session in 2012.

The World Heritage Centre encouraged Mali to prepare a detailed state of conservation report and priorities for intervention on the World Heritage properties in Mali, in particular the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia and to request technical and financial assistance from UNESCO and the international community.

Mali committed to finalizing the documents of adhesion to the Second Protocol relating to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, in order to impose the obligation for the integral protection of its cultural properties, notably all the scientific collections that bear witness to the Golden Age, both spiritual and intellectual, of Timbuktu, as well as all the sites and monuments in this region. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2012

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that due to the armed conflict situation in the northern region of Mali, the present conditions do not permit the satisfactory management, protection and conservation of the World Heritage properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia. The situation is particularly worrying in Timbuktu where two tombs have been damaged and the biggest centre for manuscripts in west Africa has been damaged, rendering their conservation, already judged to be fragile, difficult. They also consider that the optimal conditions are no longer present to ensure the preservation of these properties and that they are threatened by a specific and proven imminent danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines.

They note with satisfaction the decision of the State Party to request the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They recommend that the Committee also encourage the State Party to request assistance from UNESCO and the international community to ensure the strengthened protection of the ensemble of its cultural properties, essential for the preservation of Mali culture, rich and tolerant, relating to the heritage of humankind. They confirm the need for the Committee to inscribe Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They are at the disposal of the State Party to prepare necessary corrective measures and the Desired state of conservation. Finally, they recommend that the Committee draw the attention of the State Party to the need to also safeguard all the properties inscribed on the Tentative List of Mali, located in the region of conflict. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2012
36 COM 7B.106
Mali World Heritage properties (Mali)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Congratulates the State Party for having immediately expressed its concern regarding the worsening threats to the World Heritage cultural properties, in particular to Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia, and for having requested UNESCO assistance for measures to be undertaken in the event of a future deterioration of the situation;

3.   Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for having sent a mission to Mali to study with the State Party emergency measures to be taken to ensure the preservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and takes note of the report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali threatened by armed conflict in the northern region of Mali;

4.   Expresses its serious concern regarding the situation of armed conflict in the northern region of Mali and the seriousness of threats to the World Heritage properties following the degradation of the Timbuktu tombs, and the threats to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tomb of Askia;

5.   Considers that the optimal conditions are not present anymore to ensure the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia and that they are threatened by a specific and proven imminent danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;

6.   Decides to inscribe Timbuktu (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

7.   Also decides to inscribe the Tomb of Askia (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

8.   Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to prepare, in consultation with the State Party, all the corrective measures as well as a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, once a return to stability is effective in the northern region of Mali;

9.   Launches an appeal to the frontier States Parties to Mali (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal) to cooperate in the preparation of a joint conservation strategy for World Heritage properties of Mali and to combat the illicit traffic of cultural objects, in particular those linked to these properties;

10.  Also launches an appeal to the African Union and the CEDEAO in order that all the necessary measures may be undertaken to protect cultural heritage located in the northern region of Mali and to the international community to provide technical and financial support to ensure the strengthened protection of the World Heritage properties in Mali;

11.  Encourages the State Party to request emergency funding from the World Heritage Fund to implement the priority actions identified during the UNESCO mission, and also requests the assistance of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM to this end;

12.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2013, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and more particularly on the progress achieved regarding their Outstanding Universal Value for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

36 COM 7B.107

The World Heritage Committee:

1.   Recalling the high-level UNESCO mission to the State Party of Mali that was sent in May 2012 at the decision of the Director-General of UNESCO, in response to the disastrous occupation of the cultural property of the Timbuktu shrines by armed groups, and met with the senior government officials, including the Prime Minister and the Minister of Culture in order to offer support to the people of Mali,

2.   Further recalling that during the UNESCO high-level mission, both the Government of Mali and UNESCO agreed to reinforce the protection of all cultural properties which are fundamental for the preservation of the Malian culture, described by the Government as both “rich and tolerant, and forming an integral part of the heritage of humanity”,

3.   Welcoming the declaration of the Secretary General of the United Nations of 1 July 2012 supporting the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the countries of the region to assist the people of Mali to resolve the crisis,

4.   Noting with great sadness the destruction of the mausoleums which are part of the World Heritage property of Timbuktu,

5.   Expresses its gratitude to the international community for the manifestations of concern and for the appeals for the cessation of these repugnant acts of destruction;

6.   Strongly condemns these acts of destruction and calls upon the perpetrators responsible to immediately halt these unacceptable actions;

7.   Rejects any correlation between the recent inscription of the property of the Timbuktu shrines on the List of World Heritage in Danger and the acts of vandalism that are being perpetrated, which deprive the world and future generations from enjoying Mali’s precious heritage;

8.   Calls upon the international community, to provide the support required at the request of the State Party of Mali in ensuring that its cultural properties are conserved and protected for present and future generations;

9.   Requests the Director-General of UNESCO to consider the creation of a Special Fund to assist Mali in its efforts to support the conservation of its cultural heritage, and to this end, appeals to all Member States of UNESCO, to the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to provide financial resources to this Fund;

10.   Further requests the Director-General of UNESCO to dispatch a mission to Mali when possible, with a view to assessing, together with the national authorities concerned and the local authorities, the extent of the damage to and destruction of the property and the urgent conservation needs in order to safeguard its integrity and its Outstanding Universal Value;

11.  Decides to apply the Reinforced monitoring mechanism to the property and to report back to the World Heritage Committee;

12.  Decides that a report on progress made in that context be submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session for consideration and follow-up action

36 COM 8C.1
Establishment of the World Heritage List in Danger (Inscribed Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-12/36.COM/7B and WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-12/36.COM/8B and WHC-12/36.COM/8B.Add),
  2. Decides to inscribe the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 36 COM 7B.106)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 36 COM 7B.106)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 36 COM 8B.5)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 36 COM 7B.102)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 36 COM 7B.93)
36 COM 8E
Adoption of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,

2.   Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.   Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

    • Australia:  Great Barrier Reef; Lord Howe Island Group; Gondwana Rainforests of Australia; Wet Tropics of Queensland; Fraser Island; Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte); Heard and McDonald Islands; Macquarie Island; Purnululu National Park;
    • Bangladesh: Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat;
    • Cambodia: Angkor;
    • China: Mount Taishan; The Great Wall; Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang; Mogao Caves; Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian; Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area; Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu; Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains; Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa; Lushan National Park; Mount Emei Scenic Area, including Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area; Old Town of Lijiang; Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing; Mount Wuyi; Dazu Rock Carvings; Mount Qincheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System; Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom; Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries – Wolong, Mt Siguniang and Jiajin Mountains;
    • Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea: Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve;
    • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Complex of Koguryo Tombs;
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Virunga National Park; Garamba National Park; Kahuzi-Biega National Park; Salonga National Park;
    • Egypt: Wadi Al-Hitan (Whale Valley);
    • Estonia: Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn;
    • Ethiopia: Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela; Lower Valley of the Awash; Lower Valley of the Omo; Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town;
    • Gambia: Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites;
    • Gambia and Senegal: Stone Circles of Senegambia;
    • Ghana: Forts and Castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions; Asante Traditional Buildings;
    • India: Taj Mahal; Keoladeo National Park; Sundarbans National Park; Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks;
    • Indonesia: Borobudur Temple Compounds; Prambanan Temple Compounds;
    • Islamic Republic of Iran: Bam and its Cultural Landscape;
    • Kazakhstan: Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi; Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly;
    • Madagascar: Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve; Royal Hill of Ambohimanga;
    • Malaysia: Gunung Mulu National Park;
    • Mali: Timbuktu; Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons); Tomb of Askia;
    • Mongolia: Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape;
    • Nepal: Sagarmatha National Park; Kathmandu Valley; Chitwan National Park; Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha;
    • New Zealand: Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand; New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands;
    • Nigeria: Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove;
    • Pakistan: Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro;
    • Philippines: Baroque Churches of the Philippines; Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park;
    • Republic of Korea: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple; Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Pangeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks; Jongmyo Shrine; Changdeokgung Palace Complex; Hwaseong Fortress; Gyeongju Historic Areas; Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites;
    • Solomon Islands: East Rennell;
    • Thailand: Historic City of Ayutthaya;
    • Turkmenistan: State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”; Kunya-Urgench;
    • United Republic of Tanzania: Serengeti National Park; Kondoa Rock-Art Sites; 
    • Uzbekistan: Historic Centre of Bukhara; Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz; Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures;
    • Viet Nam: Ha Long Bay; My Son Sanctuary; Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park;
    • Zambia and Zimbabwe: Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls;
    • Zimbabwe: Great Zimbabwe National Monument; Khami Ruins National Monument; Matobo Hills;

4.   Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.   Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

    • World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
    • World Heritage properties in Africa;
    • World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
    • World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
    • World Heritage properties in Europe and North America. 
Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.106

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2. Congratulates the State Party for having immediately expressed its concern regarding the worsening threats to the World Heritage properties, in particular to Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia, and for having requested UNESCO assistance for measures to be undertaken in the event of a future deterioration of the situation;

3. Thanks the Director-General of UNESCO for having sent a mission to Mali to study with the State Party emergency measures to be taken to ensure the preservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and takes note of the report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali threatened by armed conflict in the northern region of Mali;

4. Expresses its serious concern regarding the situation of armed conflict in the northern region of Mali and the seriousness of threats to the World Heritage properties following the degradation of the Timbuktu tombs, and the threats to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Tomb of Askia;

5. Considers that the optimal conditions are not present anymore to ensure the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties of Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia and that they are threatened by a specific and proven imminent danger, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Decides to inscribe Timbuktu (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

7. Also decides to inscribe the Tomb of Askia (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

8. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to prepare in consultation with the State Party all the corrective measures as well as a Desired State of Conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, once a return to stability is effective in the northern region of Mali;

9. Launches an appeal to the frontier States Parties to Mali (Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger) to cooperate in the preparation of a joint conservation strategy for World Heritage properties in the northern region of Mali and combat the illicit traffic linked to these properties;

10. Also launches an appeal to the African Union and the CEDEAO in order that all the necessary measures may be undertaken to protect cultural heritage located in the northern region of Mali and to the international community to provide technical and financial support to ensure the strengthened protection of the World Heritage properties in Mali;

11. Encourages the State Party to request emergency funding from the World Heritage Fund to implement the priority actions identified during the UNESCO mission, and also requests the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM to assist in this optic;

12. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2013, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties in Mali and more particularly on the progress achieved regarding their Outstanding Universal Value for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.

Report year: 2012
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 1990-2005, 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 36COM (2012)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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