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World Heritage Convention

Decision 44 COM 7B.1
Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin) (C 323bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.103, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the revision of the Management Plan, and the appointment of a new Management Committee, a Site Manager and a conservator for the Museum and commends the State Party for undertaking firm measures against illegal occupation within property;
  4. Notes with satisfaction that work has started on the development of a fire prevention plan, that a fire hydrant has been brought back into service and that fire breaks have been re-established, and reiterates its request to the State Party to install in the immediate future appropriate fire detection systems in the main buildings, and ensure all fire extinguishers are operable;
  5. Notes the efforts of the State Party to initiate conservation work to rehabilitate degraded parts of the property, but expresses concern that no details have been provided to show how this work has been undertaken or justified to ensure that authenticity and integrity have been respected;
  6. Expresses great concern that the continuing vulnerabilities of the palace remain, and requests the State Party to continue its efforts against the illegal development and encroachment of the property;
  7. Also welcomes the revised Management Plan and reinforcement of the management team as positive steps, but considers that they alone are not enough to achieve the fundamental changes needed to safeguard the fabric of the 10 palaces that make up the whole property, and to the governance, planning and other control processes;
  8. Also notes that, if the palaces are to retain their authenticity and integrity, urgent action has to be undertaken, and also requests the State Party to draft a specific Recovery Plan as a matter of urgency, and submit to the World Heritage Centre the outline of such a Recovery Plan for review by the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and ICCROM), based on adequate surveys and research, to establish a baseline from which to measure progress, and which includes a phased and feasible programme of restoration and conservation, based on documentation and surveys, and appropriate changes in governance to allow the involvement and support of relevant stakeholders and authorities;
  9. Thanks the Government of the Norway for their financial support to the property;
  10. Reiterates its recommendation to the State Party to consider establishing a comprehensive strategy for the sustainable funding of the property’s conservation;
  11. Further welcomes the extension of the Museum project to encompass the restoration and rehabilitation of the palaces, and a programme to support sustainable traditional and heritage training; and further requests the State Party to ensure that these elements are integrated into the Recovery Plan, and detailed proposals are submitted for review before they are finalised;
  12. Further notes that the designs for the proposed museum have been modified with lower roofs and an architectural language that respects local traditions, requests furthermore the State Party to re-locate the building or make it much smaller and less dominant, so that the Amazon court continues to be intelligible as a large ceremonial open space, and to submit volumetric studies for review before any further detailed plans are developed for the Amazon court, and requests moreover the State Party to carry out Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) as a pre-requisite for development projects and activities within or around the components of the property in conformity with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines before any decisions are made;
  13. Further requests the State Party to continue dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in the framework of the timetable for the implementation of the project for the Museum of the Epic of the Amazons and Kings of Dahomey, to allow for a sustained exchange of documentation and to ensure the preservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  14. Requests furthermore the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property as soon as possible to consider its state of conservation and the potential threats it is facing, to assess the implementation of the recommendations made by the previous mission of 2016, and to formulate, in consultation with the State Party, concrete recommendations, including on the issues to be addressed in the Recovery Plan;
  15. 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.
Decision Code
44 COM 7B.1
States Parties 1
State of conservation reports
2021 Royal Palaces of Abomey
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision