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Timbuktu

Mali
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • War
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Occupation of the property by armed groups
  • Lack of management structure at the site (problem resolved in 2019)
  • Armed conflict
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Occupation of the property by armed groups
  • Absence of management
  • Destruction of 14 mausoleums and degradation of the three mosques in the serial property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

In progress 

Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6622 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount granted: USD 100,000 from the Italian Funds-in-Trust; USD 55,000 from the UNESCO Emergency Fund; USD 2,100,000 from the Action Plan Fund for the rehabilitation of cultural heritage and the safeguarding of ancient manuscripts in Mali; 2013: USD 37,516 from The Netherlands Funds-in-Trust; approx. USD 313,000 granted in 2020 from the European Union (out of a total contribution of USD 556,036 for activities in Mali).

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 8 (from 1981-2018)
Total amount approved : 189,352 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

2002, 2004, 2005, 2006: World Heritage Centre missions; 2008, 2009 and 2010: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; May, October and December 2012: UNESCO emergency missions to Mali; June 2013: UNESCO assessment mission to Timbuktu; April 2017: UNESCO Expert mission to assess the state of conservation of Mali's World Heritage properties

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 28 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report (available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1139/documents/), providing the following information in response to Decision 43 COM 7A.55 of the Committee:

  • The different municipal and regional authorities are increasingly mobilized in the conservation of the property and the implementation of the corrective measures;
  • The Management Committees for the Djingareyber and Sidi Yahia mosques have been renewed and the traditional corporation of masons has designated a new chief. They have committed to removing the containers and small tin houses from the medina, and wish to have a legal regulatory intervention framework to better prevent inadequate architectural interventions;
  • Torrential rains in 2019 have caused the partial collapse of the roof of the Sidi Yahia mosque. Repair work was carried out by the corporation of masons. Rain also damaged the small minaret of the Djingareyber mosque. Despite repair work, the entire façade needs to be rehabilitated;
  • An architect expert mandated by UNESCO to examine the damage noted a lack of vigilance in the monitoring of the Sidi Yahia mosque;
  • The Djingareyber mosque Committee wished to construct a building in the courtyard to welcome the worshippers, with support from Barkhane Forces, but without consulting the Cultural Mission. It was finally accepted to halt and demolish the work already undertaken;
  • The increasingly hard winters and the more violent and frequent sandstorms have perturbed the annual recurrence of rough rendering of the mosques, exposing them to risks of erosion and collapse. Henceforth, rough rendering shall be better planned;
  • The maintenance of the mausoleums is neglected since the implementation of the rehabilitation programme. A request was addressed to the families responsible for the mausoleums to organize an association to coordinate maintenance;
  • The cemeteries housing the mausoleums are surrounded by rubbish and degraded due to the absence of guardians and maintenance. The fencing of the two cemeteries have been repaired, whilst those of the mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud and Cheikh Sidi Elmoctar have collapsed due to silting;
  • The Cultural Mission continues to lack financial, human and logistical means and only has obsolete and old equipment;
  • The problem of vibrations caused by heavy vehicles in the vicinity of the mosques remains current;
  • The different stakeholders are not familiar with the texts relating to the 1972 Convention, and the illiteracy of the workers render the Maintenance Guide for the Mausoleums useless;
  • New funding from the European Union began in March 2020.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The State Party’s commitment to the conservation of the property is noted and appreciated, in particular the mobilization of the municipal and regional authorities and through the renewal of the Management Committees for the mosques. Increased mobilization of the Management Committees in the maintenance activities of the mosques and their surroundings is required to prolong the actions carried out over past years. The desire expressed by these Committees to dispose of a legal and regulatory intervention framework as well as their need to strengthen their capacities, illustrates this renewed commitment.

However, the insufficient monitoring of possible inadequate interventions on the urban fabric of the medina is demonstrated by the construction of a building in the courtyard of the Djingareyber mosque with massive masonry pillars, without involving the Cultural Mission or the designated mason for the mosque. On 18 February 2020, the World Heritage Centre addressed a letter to the State Party concerning this issue and requesting the suspension of this construction, in non-conformity with the architecture of the mosque. This letter also indicated that on-going construction of new buildings within the medina out of line with its architecture was likely to affect the visual integrity of the property and possibly impact its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

On 16 April 2020, the State Party informed the Secretariat of the demolition of the constructions within the mosque and that solutions have been found to make the new constructions conform with the traditional architecture of the medina. However, a mission led by the Head of the UNESCO Office in Bamako in November 2020 again noted the anarchic construction of a hangar in the courtyard of the mosque, the lack of leveling of the roof of the mosque which could cause infiltration of rainwater, concrete block constructions around the mosque, and the lack of maintenance of the rehabilitated mausoleums. On 30 December 2020, the State Party informed the UNESCO Office in Bamako of the Management Committee’s decision to demolish the constructions in the main courtyard of the mosque, to level the roof of the mosque, to completely cover the walls of the houses around the mosque with alhore stone, and to replace the tin doors and windows with local wood joinery.

This demonstrates the importance of implementing the Management and Conservation Plan to further raise awareness of the local population and private owners of the heritage prerogatives of the property, and to ensure that the local authorities apply and, when necessary, strengthen the enforcement of urban regulations. It should also be recalled that the State Party should inform the World Heritage Centre before launching any major construction project, in compliance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

The partial collapse of the Sidi Yahia mosque roof following torrential rains in August 2019 and the deterioration of the state of conservation of the Djingareyber mosque is a cause for concern at several levels, as confirmed by the architect expert after examination of the damage. In the case of Sidi Yahia, damage is mostly due to lack of monitoring, while the Djingareyber mosque, that has not been rough-plastered since 2017, suffers from a weakening in traditional conservation mechanisms.

As indicated by the State Party, it would appear that the substantial financial support granted over several years, despite its evident beneficial impact, has installed an expectancy with regard to UNESCO and other partners, by which the maintenance of the heritage would now depend upon their continued financial support, and this at the cost of the intrinsic traditional conservation practices and mechanisms that have preserved the heritage value of the property over centuries. Therefore, it is necessary to revitalize this central aspect of the heritage, especially through awareness raising actions and mobilization of all the stakeholders at the local community level by ensuring an appropriate communication in this respect.

Nevertheless, in addition to the continuing unstable security situation, the impact of climate change has become a cause of major concern, generating hard winters and increasingly frequent and violent sandstorms. A dialogue with the local actors would appear to be necessary to study the measures and needs to be undertaken in the future to respond to this phenomenon and its impacts.

Finally, it should be noted that in application of the conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Admad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for his responsibility in the destruction of several cultural properties in Timbuktu, in particular several mausoleums as well as the sacred door of the Sidi Yahia mosque, a ceremony to award a symbolic euro to the Government of Mali and to UNESCO for the damage suffered by the Malian people and the community of Timbuktu took place on 30 March 2021. On 27 September 2016, Mr. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was found guilty and sentenced to nine years in prison and the payment of 2.7 million euros in reparation to victims, following which individual and collective reparation began in January 2021. While appreciating the outcome of this procedure, it will be important to ensure that the potential impacts of these repairs and the actions to be carried out within the framework of collective reparations, representing a total amount of 428,000 euros, be taken into account in future reports on the state of conservation of the property.

In the light of all these issues, and taking account of the sanitary conditions, it is recommended that the Committee maintain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7A.2
Timbuktu (Mali) (C 119rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.54, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku,2019),
  3. Expresses its appreciation for the efforts deployed in the conservation of the property, notably by reinforcing the mobilisation of the municipal and regional authorities, and the local community through the Management Committees of the mosques and the masons’ corporation;
  4. Thanks the State Party for its intervention through the Management Committee for the Djingareyber mosque to halt the construction work for a building in the courtyard of the mosque, as well as the Management Committee of the mosque for having accepted the demolition of the work already undertaken in non-conformity with the mosque architecture, and reminds the State Party of the need to inform the World Heritage Centre prior to the start of a major construction project, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Notes with satisfaction the cessation of new on-going constructions in the medina for the necessary corrections to be made in conformity with its traditional architecture, and also reminds the State Party of the need to implement the 2018-2022 Management and Conservation Plan, in particular as regards the urban framework, in order to revitalize awareness, interaction and coordination of the stakeholders at all institutional levels, and to ensure the enforcement of urban regulations;
  6. Requests the State Party to further raise awareness of the local population and with the private owners of the heritage prerogatives of the property and to strengthen the enforcement of urban regulations;
  7. Expresses its concern with regard to the degradation caused by a lack of maintenance and monitoring of the mosques and mausoleums, thus exposing them to risk of collapse, especially during the winter period, and also requests the Management Committees of the mosques and the families responsible for the conservation of the mausoleums to increase maintenance and monitoring;
  8. Also expresses concern about the diminishing traditional conservation practices and mechanisms, in particular in ensuring the annual rough plastering of the mosques, and the possible incomprehension of the local stakeholders of the role and responsibilities of external national and international partners, and further requests the State Party in collaboration with these national and international partners, to ensure that adequate measures, notably revitalization, are taken for the safeguard of the intrinsic traditional conservation practices and mechanisms of the property;
  9. Further expresses concern, in addition to the continuing unstable security situation, about the impact of climate change that has become a major issue generating increasingly hard winters and frequent and violent sandstorms, and encourages the State Party to initiate a dialogue with local stakeholders to study the measures and needs required to respond to this phenomenon and its future impacts;
  10. Notes with satisfaction that, in application of the conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for his responsibility in the destruction of several cultural properties in Timbuktu, a ceremony for the presentation of a symbolic euro to the Government of Mali and UNESCO for the harm suffered by the Malian people and the community of Timbuktu took place on 30 March 2021, and that individual and collective reparations began in January 2021, and further requests the State Party as well as the Secretariat to ensure that the potential impacts of these reparations and the actions to be taken in the context of collective reparations are taken into account in future reports on the state of conservation of the property;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session;
  12. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  13. Also decides to retain Timbuktu (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
44 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 44 COM 7A.28)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 44 COM 7A.29)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 44 COM 7A.32)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 44 COM 7A.35)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.39)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.40)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.41)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.42)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.43)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.45)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 44 COM 7A.5)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.55)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.52)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 44 COM 7A.6)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 44 COM 7A.7)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 44 COM 7A.8)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 44 COM 7A.10)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 44 COM 7A.47)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 44 COM 7A.11)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 44 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 44 COM 7A.13)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 44 COM 7A.14)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 44 COM 7A.15)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 44 COM 7A.48)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 44 COM 7A.1)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 44 COM 7A.2)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 44 COM 7A.3)
  • Mexico, Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Decision 44 COM 7B.56)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 44 COM 7A.30)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 44 COM 7A.49)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 44 COM 7A.17)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 44 COM 7A.16)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 44 COM 7A.36)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 44 COM 7A.37)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.50)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 44 COM 7A.33)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 44 COM 7A.53)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 44 COM 7A.18)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 44 COM 7A.19)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 44 COM 7A.20)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 44 COM 7A.21)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 44 COM 7A.22)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 44 COM 7A.23)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 44 COM 7A.4)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 44 COM 7A.51)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 44 COM 7A.54)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 44 COM 7A.31)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 44 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 44 COM 7A.25)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 44 COM 7A.26)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 44 COM 7A.27).
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7A.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.54, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku,2019),
  3. Expresses its appreciation for the efforts deployed in the conservation of the property, notably by reinforcing the mobilisation of the municipal and regional authorities, and the local community through the Management Committees of the mosques and the masons’ corporation;
  4. Thanks the State Party for its intervention through the Management Committee for the Djingareyber mosque to halt the construction work for a building in the courtyard of the mosque, as well as the Management Committee of the mosque for having accepted the demolition of the work already undertaken in non-conformity with the mosque architecture, and reminds the State Party of the need to inform the World Heritage Centre prior to the start of a major construction project, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Notes with satisfaction the cessation of new on-going constructions in the medina for the necessary corrections to be made in conformity with its traditional architecture, and also reminds the State Party of the need to implement the 2018-2022 Management and Conservation Plan, in particular as regards the urban framework, in order to revitalize awareness, interaction and coordination of the stakeholders at all institutional levels, and to ensure the enforcement of urban regulations;
  6. Requests the State Party to further raise awareness of the local population and with the private owners of the heritage prerogatives of the property and to strengthen the enforcement of urban regulations;
  7. Expresses its concern with regard to the degradation caused by a lack of maintenance and monitoring of the mosques and mausoleums, thus exposing them to risk of collapse, especially during the winter period, and also requests the Management Committees of the mosques and the families responsible for the conservation of the mausoleums to increase maintenance and monitoring;
  8. Also expresses concern about the diminishing traditional conservation practices and mechanisms, in particular in ensuring the annual rough plastering of the mosques, and the possible incomprehension of the local stakeholders of the role and responsibilities of external national and international partners, and further requests the State Party in collaboration with these national and international partners, to ensure that adequate measures, notably revitalization, are taken for the safeguard of the intrinsic traditional conservation practices and mechanisms of the property;
  9. Further expresses concern, in addition to the continuing unstable security situation, about the impact of climate change that has become a major issue generating increasingly hard winters and frequent and violent sandstorms, and encourages the State Party to initiate a dialogue with local stakeholders to study the measures and needs required to respond to this phenomenon and its future impacts;
  10. Notes with satisfaction that, in application of the conviction by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi for his responsibility in the destruction of several cultural properties in Timbuktu, a ceremony for the presentation of a symbolic euro to the Government of Mali and UNESCO for the harm suffered by the Malian people and the community of Timbuktu took place on 30 March 2021, and that individual and collective reparations began in January 2021, and further requests the State Party as well as the Secretariat to ensure that the potential impacts of these reparations and the actions to be taken in the context of collective reparations are taken into account in future reports on the state of conservation of the property;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session in 2022;
  12. Decides to continue to apply the Reactive Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  13. Also decides to retain Timbuktu (Mali) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2021
Mali
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 1990-2005, 2012-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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