UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as part of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, is dedicated to the protection of “certain places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value and…form part of the common heritage of mankind.” As such, it has recently expressed concern over the safety of the sixteen UNESCO designated World Heritage sites in Timbuktu, Mali. This part of West Africa is rich in important buildings and artifacts including more than 100 000 historical manuscripts which cover a variety of different subjects. The historical significance and the sensitivity of the conservation of these artifacts have been addressed by the Timbuktu Educational Foundation. The NGO, which is commited to protecting the manuscripts, has referred to them as “part of the intellectual heritage of West Africa.” The organization cites the manuscripts as important proof of the advanced intellectual and cultural status of the city of Timbuktu, and as important evidence of African and Islamic thought and intellectual contributions to the world.

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