This communique was endorsed at the Biennial General Assembly during the 16th West African Archaeological Association (WAAA/AOAA) Colloquium held at the University of Ghana, Legon from July 9-12, 2019. On behalf of the Executive Board of the Association and entire members, I will be very grateful if this communique is adopted and implemented so as to inure to our collective benefit in West Africa.





We, members of the West African Archaeological Association (WAAA/AOAA), gathered at the General

Assembly Meeting of the 16th Colloquium of WAAA, which took place from 9 to 13 July 2019 do

acknowledge with gratitude the generosity of the University of Ghana and the Department of Archaeology and

Heritage Studies in hosting this biennial colloquium for a second time in a row.


• The 2018 Recommendations of the UNESCO and African World Heritage Fund (AWHF)

Workshop on World Heritage and Educational Institutions in Africa at Great Zimbabwe,

Zimbabwe and at Saint-Louis, Senegal;

• The 2017 Resolution of the 15th Colloquium of the West African Archaeological Association

(WAAA/AOAA): ‘Call from Accra for Protection of Sites of Cultural Heritage by Ecowas


• The 2015 African Union’s Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want’ which addresses issues

related to education and heritage as catalysts for sustainable development;

• The 2015 ‘Policy Document for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into

the processes of the World Heritage Convention’ adopted by the General Assembly of States

Parties to the World Heritage Convention.

Recognizing that:

• there is the need to integrate World Heritage curriculum in the academic programmes of West

African educational institutions as a result of lack of skilled heritage managers and


• there is inattention to the sustainable management of World Heritage Sites in West Africa.

This is in addition to antiquated antiquities laws and lack of effective enforcement of various

legislations to make heritage impact assessment practices mandatory in West Africa;

• sub-Saharan Africa is the most under-represented region on the World Heritage List with 93

properties (51 cultural sites, 37 natural sites, 8 mixed sites), even though it boasts of a heritage

of unrivalled natural and cultural diversity that constitutes the very essence of its identity;

• despite the adoption of the Global Strategy for a representative balanced and credible World

Heritage List in 1994, the Africa region hosts only 9 per cent of all World Heritage sites,

while Europe and North America Regions accounts for 47 per cent of properties inscribed on

the List;

• the theme of the colloquium ‘Archaeology and World Heritage Sites in West Africa’

reinforces the clarion call and recommendations of UNESCO and the African World Heritage

Fund ‘that heritage institutions and institutions of higher learning must jointly engage in

research to develop and submit credible and justifiable nomination files as part of the

upstream process and to address management issues at World Heritage properties;’

• the aim of this Colloquium was centred on brainstorming and dialoguing on the role of

archaeology in facilitating our contributions to the documentation and inventory of sites, site

management and good conservation practices, the preparation of tentative lists and

nomination files, innovation and job creation with archaeological and heritage resources as

well as the creation of home-grown academic theories and practices to enhance this discourse,

We, the members of WAAA/AOAA note that:

1. being conscious of the Observer Status of the West African Archaeological Association at the

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the membership of WAAA/AOAA recommends that all ECOWAS member states and their higher educational institutions implement the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention so as to sufficiently address the issues intrinsic to the Convention in West Africa;

2. the low inscription rate of heritage sites in West Africa must be increased through high quality

nomination dossiers based on close collaboration between academic institutions, specialized

institutions in World Heritage and the governments of member states;

3. the budgets of member states of ECOWAS allocated to the heritage sector must be increased

substantially to enhance value-added archaeological research and inscription of new sites on

the Tentative and World Heritage Lists;

4. the support given to Academic heritage institutions in the member states must be increased to

strengthen the creation of curricula oriented towards increasing the number of trained African

heritage professionals and experts in the fields of heritage management and conservation;

5. there is the need to enhance academic guidance and sufficient integration of World Heritage

studies, heritage management and conservation studies into the existing programmes of

academic institutions in West Africa.

We, the Members further:

6 Urge the ECOWAS Commission and Member States to come out with policy statements on

the need for the return and restitution of looted and dubiously acquired African objects that

are held in private collections and museums outside Africa (European /North American

museums) and museums of member states, if any;

7 Urge Member states to rehabilitate/reconstruct their old museums and build new community

museums with well-equipped laboratories, expertise and adequate security systems in order

to host and conserve restituted and endangered art objects and antiquities of Africa;

8 Recommend the practice of community archaeology to involve local people in studies of

their heritage in order to enhance local understanding, appreciation and conservation of

heritage assets and to promote public education about World Heritage properties and

UNESCO heritage conventions;

9 Request ECOWAS Member States and their heritage institutions and institutions of higher

learning to accelerate the implementation of the above recommendations.

This document is adopted by agreement of Members at the General Assembly of the 16th Colloquium of

WAAA/AOAA at the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana.

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