Limited distribution                             WHC-94/CONF.003/INF.008  
                                                        21 November 1994  
                                                       Original: English  
                         UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL,  
                           WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE  
                              Eighteenth session  
                               Phuket, Thailand  
                              12-17 December 1994  
     Information note: Nara Document on Authenticity. Experts meeting,  
     1-6 November 1994  
At the sixteenth meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held at Santa  
Fe, USA, issues concerning authenticity of cultural heritage were  
discussed at length in the context of the test of authenticity found in  
the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage  
Convention. At the suggestion of ICOMOS, the World Heritage Committee  
requested that the concept and application of authenticity to cultural  
heritage be further elaborated through international discussions among  
The Government of Japan generously offered to sponsor a major  
international conference of experts at the historic city of Nara, Japan,  
to further examine authenticity in relation to the World Heritage  
To prepare for the Nara conference, the Norwegian and Canadian  
governments, in collaboration with ICOMOS, ICCROM, and the World Heritage  
Centre, sponsored a preparatory workshop in Bergen, Norway, from 31  
January to 2 February 1994. The workshop proceedings were published by  
Riksantikvaren of Norway under the title Conference on Authenticity in  
Relation to the World Heritage Convention.  
Nara Document on Authenticity:  
At the Nara Conference on Authenticity, held from 1-6 November 1994,  
forty five participants from twenty eight countries discussed the many  
complex issues associated with defining and assessing authenticity. It  
was noted that in some languages of the world, there is no word to  
express precisely the concept of authenticity.  
The results of the experts' deliberations are contained in the Nara  
Document on Authenticity. The World Heritage Committee will note that  
there was a general consensus that authenticity is an essential element  
in defining, assessing, and monitoring cultural heritage. The experts  
gave particular attention to exploring the diversity of cultures in the  
world and the many expressions of this diversity, ranging from monuments  
and sites through cultural landscapes to intangible heritage. Of  
particular importance in the view that the concept and application of  
authenticity as it relates in cultural heritage is rooted in specific  
cultural contexts and should be considered accordingly.  
The experts considered that an expanded dialogue in different regions of  
the world and among specialist groups concerned with the diversity of  
cultural heritage was essential to further refine the concept and  
application of authenticity as it relates to cultural heritage. Such  
on-going dialogue will be encouraged by ICOMOS, ICCROM, and the World  
Heritage Centre, and will be brought to the Committee's attention as  
The World Heritage Committee is encouraged to take into consideration the  
principles and views contained in the Nara Document on Authenticity in  
its evaluation of properties nominated for inclusion on the World  
Heritage List.  
1.    We, the experts assembled in Nara (Japan), wish to acknowledge the  
     generous spirit and intellectual courage of the Japanese  
     authorities in providing a timely forum in which we could challenge  
     conventional thinking in the conservation field, and debate ways  
     and means of broadening our horizons to bring greater respect for  
     cultural and heritage diversity to conservation practice.  
2.   We also wish to acknowledge the value of the framework for  
     discussion provided by the World Heritage Committee's desire to  
     apply the test of authenticity in ways which accord full respect to  
     the social and cultural values of all societies, in examining the  
     outstanding universal value of cultural properties proposed for the  
     World Heritage List.  
3.   The Nara Document on Authenticity is conceived in the spirit of the  
     Charter of Venice 1964, and builds on it and extends it in response  
     to the expanding scope of cultural heritage concerns and interests  
     in our contemporary world.  
4.   In a world that is increasingly subject to the forces of  
     globalization and homogenization, and in a world in which the  
     search for cultural identity is sometimes pursued through  
     aggressive nationalism and the suppression of the cultures of  
     minorities, the essential contribution made by the consideration of  
     authenticity in conservation practice is to clarify and illuminate  
     the collective memory of humanity.  
Cultural diversity and heritage diversity  
5.   The diversity of cultures and heritage in our world is an  
     irreplaceable source of spiritual and intellectual richness for all  
     humankind. The protection and enhancement of cultural and heritage  
     diversity in our world should be actively promoted as an essential  
     aspect of human development.  
6.   Cultural heritage diversity exists in time and space, and demands  
     respect for other cultures and all aspects of their belief systems.  
     In cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect  
     for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of  
     the cultural values of all parties.  
7.   All cultures and societies are rooted in the particular forms and  
     means of tangible and intangible expression which constitute their  
     heritage, and these should be respected.  
8.   It is important to underline a fundamental principle of UNESCO, to  
     the effect that the cultural heritage of each is the cultural  
     heritage of all. Responsibility for cultural heritage and the  
     management of it belongs, in the first place, to the cultural  
     community that has generated it, and subsequently to that which  
     cares for it. However, in addition to these responsibilities,  
     adherence to the international charters and conventions developed  
     for conservation of cultural heritage also obliges consideration of  
     the principles and responsibilities flowing from them. Balancing  
     their own requirements with those of other cultural communities is,  
     for each community, highly desirable, provided achieving this  
     balance does not undermine their fundamental cultural value.  
Values and authenticity  
9.   Conservation of cultural heritage in all its forms and historical  
     periods is rooted in the values attributed to the heritage. Our  
     ability to understand these values depends, in part, on the degree  
     to which information sources about these values may be understood  
     as credible or truthful. Knowledge and understanding of these  
     sources of information, in relation to original and subsequent  
     characteristics of the cultural heritage, and their meaning, is a  
     requisite basis for assessing all aspects of authenticity.  
10.  Authenticity, considered in this way and affirmed in the Charter of  
     Venice, appears as the essential qualifying factor concerning  
     values. The understanding of authenticity plays a fundamental role  
     in all scientific studies of the cultural heritage, in conservation  
     and restoration planning, as well as within the inscription  
     procedures used for the World Heritage Convention and other  
     cultural heritage inventories.  
11.  All judgments about values attributed to cultural properties as  
     well as the credibility of related information sources may differ  
     from culture to culture, and even within the same culture. It is  
     thus not possible to base judgments of values and authenticity  
     within fixed criteria. On the contrary, the respect due to all  
     cultures requires that heritage properties must considered and  
     judged within the cultural contexts to which they belong.  
12.  Therefore, it is of the highest importance and urgency that, within  
     each culture, recognition be accorded to the specific nature of its  
     heritage values and the credibility and truthfulness of related  
     information sources.  
13.  Depending on the nature of the cultural heritage, and its cultural  
     context, authenticity judgments may be linked to the worth of a  
     great variety of sources of information. Aspects of the sources may  
     include form and design, materials and substance, use and function,  
     traditions and techniques, location and setting, and spirit and  
     feeling, and other internal and external factors. The use of these  
     sources permits elaboration of the specific artistic, historic,  
     social, and scientific dimensions of the cultural heritage being  
     CONSERVATION: all operations designed to understand a property,  
     know its history and meaning, ensure its material safeguard, and,  
     if required, its restoration and enhancement.  
     INFORMATION SOURCES: all physical, written, oral, and figurative  
     sources which make it possible to know the nature, specificities,  
     meaning, and history of the cultural heritage.  
[NB  This text was adopted at the close of the Nara Conference. It  
     remains subject to further minor modification to reconcile fully  
     the English and French versions.]