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    1985-2007

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1985-2014)
Total amount approved: USD 118,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/323/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 450,000 from the Government of Japan and from the Riksantikvaren (Norwegian Cultural Heritage Directorate)

Previous monitoring missions

May/June 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/CRAterre-ENSAG/Getty Conservation Institute mission; February 2007: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; December 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2016: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring 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 2017

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in April 2016. Subsequently, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property on 8 December 2016 and updated information on 2 March 2017. A summary of this report and the mission report are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/323/documents. The State Party provides the following information:

The following actions are planned for 2017:

The Reactive Monitoring mission made it possible to collect the following additional information:

As part of the national strategy to make Abomey one of the main tourism hubs by enhancing the heritage, the State Party informed the Centre that feasibility studies are underway for restoration works and museum projects in Abomey (Estimated cost: 123 billion CFA francs – approx. USD 204 million).

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

The information provided in the State Party's report reflects its efforts to address the main concerns expressed in recent Committee decisions. It is encouraging to note that the State Party has foreseen funding for the evaluation of the 2007-2011 lapsed management plan and for the development of a new management plan for the property. The completion of the management plan remains the highest priority. It is recommended that the Committee take note of the State Party's intention to revise the management plan and urges it to finalize the plan as soon as possible.

Restoration works on the parts of the property damaged by the January and December 2015 fires have been completed. However, it is regrettable that the report does not provide sufficient information on the December fire. It is also recommended that the Committee take note that the State Party has carried out the restoration work on the parts of the property damaged by the fires.

While acknowledging the progress made, the overall state of conservation of the property remains a concern. It is imperative that measures be taken to prevent degradation related to vandalism, fire, insecurity, insalubrity, and termite attacks. It is regrettable that the State Party does not provide information on the development of the risk management plan and on fire prevention measures. It is also a matter of concern that some of the rehabilitation work on the components of the property, including the construction of private residences of the royal families on the property and in the buffer zone, are not in conformity with the rules and principles of heritage conservation, safeguarding and protection.

The State Party’s decision to appoint an official with special responsibility for the management of the collections and administration of the Historical Museum of Abomey, together with a building overseer, is commendable, but the recruitment has still not been carried out.

Various tourism and cultural projects proposed by the State Party, national and foreign partners, and in particular activities undertaken in the framework of cooperation with the city of Albi, should be continued. The results of ongoing feasibility studies for the upgrading of Abomey as a tourism hub will be submitted to the Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.

It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to develop a holistic tourism management strategy as part of the management plan.

Insofar as the various dysfunctions noted continue to be a serious threat to the property, it is recommended that the Committee acknowledge the actions carried out but that it express its concern about the general state of conservation of the property and the inadequacy of progress since the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2007, and that it encourages the State Party to implement, as soon as possible and in close collaboration with the various stakeholders, all the recommendations of the mission reports of 2012 and 2016.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.66

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.37, adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Noting that the State Party has made available funds for the evaluation and revision of the management plan, urges the State Party to act as soon as possible to start this process and to transmit these documents to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Takes note that the State Party has carried out renovation work on the eight huts of the Houégbadja Palace and parts of the Gbéhanzin Palace, which had been damaged by fires in 2015;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that intrusive or non-conforming construction work on the property is prevented, and that priority is given to finalizing the plan for the management of risks, disasters and other hazards to the property, including fires, and to transmit it to the World Heritage Centre, and recalls the obligation to inform the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any significant project or restoration that could modify the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, or of any incident;
  6. Also takes note of the feasibility studies for projects aiming to enhance Abomey as a tourism hub launched by the State Party and encourages it to develop a holistic tourism strategy in the framework of the management plan;
  7. Recognizes the actions taken since the State Party's last report in 2015 but expresses its concern about the general state of conservation of the property and the insufficient progress since the property was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger In 2007, and requests the State Party to implement as soon as possible all the recommendations of the 2012 and 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions;
  8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.