1.         Tomb of Askia (Mali) (C 1139)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2004

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2012-present

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

Following the coup d’état in March 2012, the town is occupied by Islamist groups. This situation led to the absence of maintenance and management of the site although it is threatened to collapse

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress

Corrective measures identified

In progress

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1139/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 54,200
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1139/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: UNESCO Emergency Fund: USD 40,000 

Previous monitoring missions

May 2012: Emergency UNESCO mission to Bamako; October and December 2012: World Heritage Centre monitoring missions to Bamako. February 2014: UNESCO assessment mission to Gao

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1139/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the Tomb of Askia on 22 March 2014. The Report is available at the following Internet link: https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/173/documents/. This report mainly concerns the activities carried out in the framework of the UNESCO Action Plan adopted on 18 February 2013, following Decision 37 COM 7A.20. The State Party informs the Committee that the return of the administration to Goa has not been easy as the town remains under the terrorist threat from armed groups that continue to carry out sporadic attacks. The resumption of activities of the Gao Cultural Mission, the body responsible for the management of the Tomb of Askia, has also been hindered. But during this period of insecurity, the communities of Gao, through the actions of young patriots and the Management Committee, have continued to protect the site. Following the liberation of the town by the French and Malian troops in January 2013, the Management Committee has undertaken maintenance work using their own resources, thus enabling the property to withstand the bad weather in August 2013, despite the absence of the annual work that was always carried out in times of peace.

In spite of the absence of the Gao Cultural Mission, the property has continued to be administered by the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage and its Technical Support Cell created on 6 August 2013 (Decision No. 000138). A joint UNESCO- Mali mission organized on 11 February 2014 took place in this slightly improved security context, with logistical support from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). On completion of the mission, the experts noted that the efforts of the population were temporary and the prayer halls of the mosque required important conservation work before the next rainy season. The mission therefore recommended that a mission of specialists in earthen architecture be dispatched to carryout a full diagnostic of the site prior to commencing the work. The mission also coincided with the nomination of a new manager of the Gao Cultural Mission, however, the nominee lacked the necessary work space and equipment.

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

In addition to the information provided in the report, the efforts undertaken by UNESCO and Mali to raise funds have already resulted in the collection of 3 million dollars of the 11 million dollars required for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of cultural heritage affected by the crisis, including Gao,, from the following donors: Switzerland, European Union, International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), Kingdom of Bahrain, African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), Croatia, Andorra, and Mauritius. This fund-raising activity will enable the commencement of the rehabilitation work at the property, once the diagnostic mission is completed.

The organization of a joint UNESCO-Mali evaluation mission, despite difficult security conditions, is noted with satisfaction. The urgency of beginning the more important conservation work before the next rainy season, security conditions permitting, is also noted. Further, it is urgent to carry out an in-depth architectural diagnostic to better identify all the weak structural points of the two mosques. To this end, the preparation of terms of reference for the execution of the full diagnostic, to also include soundings of the roof, is recommended. The need to carry out an assessment of the other components of the property, notably the Necropolis around the Prayer Hall, and the area for the great prayer at the Tabaski Feast (Feast of Sacrifice), is also recalled.

It should be furthermore noted with concern that the management plan prepared for the period 2002-2007 is still not updated and it is recommended that this issue be included as a priority in the urgent actions for the property. It is also recommended to the World Heritage Committee to express its deep concern with regard to the fact that the functioning of the Gao Cultural Mission is still not effective, despite the nomination of a new manager. It is particularly worrying that this person has no work space or equipment to enable him to work effectively.

The preparation of a rehabilitation and reconstruction strategy for the damaged cultural heritage of North Mali, that includes the rehabilitation of the Tomb of Askia, is noted with satisfaction. It is recommended that a reactive monitoring mission be fielded to the Tomb of Askia to assess the rehabilitation work of all the components of the property, and the global state of conservation of the property.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7A.25

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7A.20, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party for having organized the joint UNESCO/Mali mission of 11 February 2014, despite difficult security conditions;
  4. Notes with satisfaction the preparation of a rehabilitation and reconstruction strategy for the damaged cultural heritage of North Mali, that includes the rehabilitation of the Tomb of Askia;
  5. Requests the State Party to undertake the necessary actions to enable the urgent detailed architectural diagnostic to take place, to better identify all the weak structural points of the two mosques, and urges the commencement of the necessary conservation work before the next rainy season, security conditions permitting;
  6. Expresses its concern that the management plan prepared for the period 2002-2007 has not yet been updated, and the activities of the Gao Cultural Mission have not yet recommenced, despite the nomination of a new manager, due to lack of work space and equipment and also due to the security situation in the region;
  7. Further requests the State Party to proceed with the revision of the 2002-2007 management plan in close consultation with the Management Committee of the property;
  8. Thanks all the countries and institutions that have financially contributed to the UNESCO-Mali Action Plan adopted on 18 February 2013 in Paris, and more particularly Switzerland, European Union, International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), Norway, The Netherlands, Kingdom of Bahrain, African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), Croatia, Andorra and Mauritius;
  9. Requests furthermore that the State Party invite a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission to evaluate the general state of conservation of the property and the progress achieved in the rehabilitation of all the components of the property, prepare all the corrective measures, as well as a Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report on the state of conservation of the property including the implementation of the above-mentioned points, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  11. Decides to retain the Tomb of Askia (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 38 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-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: