Cablegate: Burkina Faso Requests U.S. Support for World Heritage Site

R 161203Z MAR 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. This is an action request, please see paragraph 2.

2. On February 16, 2009, Post received a dipnote officially
requesting U.S. support for Burkina Faso's request to name the
Loropeni Ruins in Western Burkina Faso as a UNESCO World Heritage
Site during the upcoming June World Heritage Committee meeting in
Seville, Spain. Post requests Department guidance on preparing a
response to this request.

3. Informal translation of dipnote:

Dipnote Complimentary Opening

The Ministry is forwarding a letter dated January 21, 2009 from the
Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Communication and Spokesman for the
Government, regarding Burkina Faso's candidacy for designation of the
Loropeni Ruins as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ministry
appreciates the Embassy's assistance in communicating this
information to the appropriate American authorities.

Dipnote Complimentary Closing

4. Informal translation of Letter from the Ministry of Culture:


I would like to inform you that my country is a candidate for
designation of the Lorpeni Ruins as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Attentive action on Burkina Faso's application to consolidate its
role in the cultural concert of nations will be very much appreciated
as well as any advice.

Complimentary Closing

5. Informal translation of dossier

Loropeni Ruins

The Loropeni Ruins are stone constructions (laterite boulders
cemented with a gravel mortar) dating from before the 11th century of
our era.

The Loropeni Ruins are situated in the rural Commune of Loropeni,
Poni Province, in the South-West Region of Burkina Faso.

They are a testament to the development of an original concept of
fortified housing structures. They are built from a massive rampart
in a rectangular shape measuring approximately 100 meters in length,
six meters high, with a wall depth of 1.4 meters at the base, which
thins toward the top.

They are included in the group called the Ruins of Lobi, which
occupies the geographic space that today includes Burkina Faso, Ivory
Coast, and Ghana.

They constitute the material witness of a regional civilization at a
given moment in its history.

These remnants, which have guarded their mysterious character intact,
demonstrate the indigenous capabilities that certain African people
had to develop elaborate technical solutions, through the judicious
use of materials available in their environment and a complex work

They are a fortified site that served not only as a place of
habitation, but also as a defense system.

Burkina Faso recognized early the great cultural value of the
Loropeni Ruins, which resulted in 1996 in their designation as a
National Heritage Site.

On this basis, our country, in collaboration with the World Heritage
Center of UNESCO, submitted in 2005 to the World Heritage Committee a
proposal to include the site on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

The deliberations of the World Heritage Committee held in Vilnius in
July 2005 recommended additional study.

To carry out these additional research works, a call was made to
various high-level competent authorities.

This included noted archeologists, historians, geomorphologists,
botanists as well as international experts.

At the end of this research, a workshop allowed a group made up of
national and international experts as well as technical experts to
review the fruits of these studies.

This workshop allowed the experts to enrich the different reports
with the objective of responding to the need for additional
information expressed by the World Heritage Committee.

It is on the basis of these final documents that the candidacy
dossier to be included as a World Heritage Site was delivered to the
World Heritage Center in January 2009.

The next session (33rd) of the World Heritage Committee will take
place from the 22nd to the 30th of June 2009 in Seville, Spain, and
it is at this session that Burkina Faso's candidacy will be examined.


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