1.         Robben Island (South Africa) (C 916)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1999

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

2004: Joint ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN mission; 2005: joint ICOMOS/IUCN mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Visitor pressure;

b) Lack of comprehensive Conservation management plan;

c) Lack of specific annual plans of operation;

d) Difficulties with operational aspects of maintenance and conservation implementation including lack of preventive maintenance funding and programming;

e) Lack of appropriate conservation of the built heritage;

f) Lack of proactive management of tourism pressure;

g) Lack of integration of natural values in management of the property;

h) Need for organizational restructuring of the management authority for the property.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/916/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

On 30 January 2009, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. The report focuses on the implementation of projects and activities under the Integrated Conservation management plan (ICMP). The following issues are raised in the report.


a) Management structure

In response to the management and organizational issues, the report noted that an interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was appointed and a three phase approach to a) stabilizing the institution, b) developing a new organizational and management structure, and c) appointing a permanent CEO for the Robben Island Museum, was instituted. At present, work is still ongoing on Phase one, that of institutional stabilization. The report does not mention progress towards establishing a statutory authority under the World Heritage Convention Act 1999 for managing the property.

The report also notes positively an improvement in coordination with the Department of Public Works (DPW), owner of the property. This coordination includes a number of preventive maintenance projects as well as “bulk services” such as supply of potable water, waste removal services, electricity generation, and water borne sewerage. There is no mention, however, of a more formalize agreement or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the management authority of the property and the DPW, as mentioned in earlier recommendations.

b) Conservation of built heritage

The report notes a number of physical conservation and preventive maintenance projects that have been identified and planned at various parts of the property including the Maximum Security Prison, the Sobukwe Complex, the Administration Building and the harbour parking area, the Bluestone Quarry, the road to the Lime Quarry, as well as a number of boats. Each of these projects is being carried out in phases with progress reported to date and work still to be done highlighted.

c) Visitor planning and management

A focus has also been placed on interpretation, visitor planning and management. The rehabilitation of the visitor’s centre, and development of a phased, integrated interpretation, visitor and use plan are underway at the Maximum Security Prison, and research and exhibition development are underway at the Sobukwe Complex, and other parts of the property. Further work is being carried out on the planning of routes from one complex to another on the island.

d) Management of the Natural Heritage and Archives

The report notes progress on the conservation of natural heritage resources on the island. Work has included costal clean-up efforts, ongoing monitoring and management of flora and fauna, and monitoring and removal of alien flora and fauna.

Finally the report notes that efforts are ongoing to improve the management and conservation of the Mayibuye Archives, located at the University of the Western Cape. Although not located on the property itself, this archive is considered an important element in the understanding of the property and its history.


The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies encourage the State Party to establish, as one of the outcomes of the reorganization process, a statutory authority with a clear management structure aimed at protecting the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. A formalized agreement (MoU) between the management authority and DPW is recommended to strengthen the reorganized management structure of the property. The phased yearly approach for conservation projects should be commended within the larger structure of the management plan. In order to assess the effectiveness of the management plan and structure in conserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that a reactive monitoring mission be undertaken to the property during 2010/2011.


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


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.50

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.53, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Notes the continued progress by the State Party on the implementation of the Integrated Conservation management plan, specifically in relation to physical conservation and preventive conservation work, ongoing improvements in interpretation and visitor management, and better cooperation with the Department of Public Works ;

4. Encourages the State Party to continue working on stabilizing and reorganizing the institutional/managerial aspects of the property, including the creation of a statutory authority under the World Heritage Convention Act with a permanent Chief Executive Officer, and to implement the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Public Works and to make available resources for all the planned maintenance works ;

5. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property, in 2010/2011, to assess the effectiveness of the management plan and structure in conserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Also requests the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2011, a detailed progress report on management/institutional aspects of the property as well as ongoing conservation, maintenance, interpretation, and visitor management.