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Reflection on Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts and other negative and divisive memories

Monday, 18 January 2021

In view of the increasing number of nominations submitted or under preparation related to sites associated with memories of recent conflicts, the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018) in three of its decisions requested to undertake a comprehensive reflection and convene an Expert Meeting on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts.

The comprehensive reflection is supported by three documents: the Report of the expert meeting held in Paris in December 2019, an independent study conducted by Dr. Cameron and Dr. Beazley and the updated version of the ICOMOS discussion paper.

In its Decision 42 COM 5A (Manama, 2018), the World Heritage Committee, noting the discussion paper by ICOMOS on Evaluations of World Heritage Nominations related to Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts, decided to convene an Expert Meeting on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts to allow for both philosophical and practical reflections on the nature of memorialization, the value of evolving memories, the inter-relationship between material and immaterial attributes in relation to memory, and the issue of stakeholder consultation, and to develop guidance on whether and how these sites might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention.

In its Decision 42 COM 8B.24 (Manama, 2018), while recalling the reservations it has expressed concerning the inscription of sites related to negative memories, the Committee decided to adjourn consideration of the nomination of the Funerary and Memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front), Belgium and France, until a comprehensive reflection has taken place and the Committee at its 44th session has discussed and decided whether and how sites associated with recent conflicts and other negative and divisive memories might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines.

In its Decision 42 COM 8 (Manama, 2018), the Committee also decided that the evaluation of “sites associated with recent conflicts” shall be undertaken once a comprehensive reflection has taken place and the Committee at its 44th session has discussed and decided how these sites might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines.

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The expert meeting was held in Paris from 4 to 6 December 2019 and was organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre thanks to the financial support of the governments of Australia, France, Kuwait, Republic of Korea and UNESCO, as well as in-kind support from the African World Heritage Fund. The meeting brought together 29 experts from different constituencies and backgrounds from all regions of the world, including representatives of the Advisory Bodies, UNESCO Category 2 Centres, World Heritage Centre as well as the Communication and Information Sector, Education Sector and Science Sector of UNESCO. Ms Isabelle Longuet (France) was chosen as Chairperson of the meeting and Ms Eugene Jo (ICCROM), as Rapporteur.

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An independent study on sites associated with recent conflicts and other negative and divisive memories was prepared at the request of the World Heritage Centre, with the financial support of the Republic of Korea. This study benefitted from the discussions of the expert meeting in December 2019 and further review by some members of the expert group. The study draws on background documents and relevant studies related to sites of recent conflicts and the use of World Heritage inscription criterion (vi), as well as literature related to public history and memorialization.

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Encouraged by the World Heritage Committee to further deepen its analysis and broaden the participation of experts in this new reflection, ICOMOS updated its discussion paper on “Sites associated with memories of Recent Conflicts and the World Heritage Convention” to consider the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention, as well as its key concepts, and how sites assorted with memories of recent conflicts relate to these. The updated paper has been prepared on the basis of extensive consultation, with ICOMOS National Committees and International Scientific Committees, but also with several international experts, from all regions of the world, which together reflected a wide variety of expertise.

Presentation

English French

When

Monday, 18 January 2021

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Decisions (3)
Code: 42COM 5A
Title: Report of the World Heritage Centre on its activities and the implementation of the World Heritage Committee’s decisions

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/5A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 5A adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017) and Decision 40 COM 5D adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
    General:
  3. Takes note with appreciation of the activities undertaken by the World Heritage Centre over the past year in pursuit of the Expected Result to ensure that “tangible heritage is identified, protected, monitored and sustainably managed by Member States, in particular through the effective implementation of the 1972 Convention”, and the five strategic objectives as presented in Document WHC/18/42.COM/5A; 
  4. Welcomes the proactive role of the Secretariat for enhancing synergies between the World Heritage Convention and the other Culture and Biodiversity-related Conventions, particularly the integration of relevant synergies aspects in the revised Periodic Reporting Format and the launch of a synergy-related web page on the Centre’s website;
  5. Also welcomes the increased collaboration among the Biodiversity-related Conventions through the Biodiversity Liaison Group and focused activities, including workshops, joint statements and awareness-raising;
  6. Takes note of the Thematic studies on the recognition of associative values using World Heritage criterion (vi) and on interpretation of sites of memory, funded respectively by Germany and the Republic of Korea and encourages all States Parties to take on board their findings and recommendations, in the framework of the identification of sites, as well as management and interpretation of World Heritage properties;
  7. Noting the discussion paper by ICOMOS on Evaluations of World Heritage Nominations related to Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts, decides to convene an Expert Meeting on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts to allow for both philosophical and practical reflections on the nature of memorialization, the value of evolving memories, the inter-relationship between material and immaterial attributes in relation to memory, and the issue of stakeholder consultation; and to develop guidance on whether and how these sites might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention, provided that extra-budgetary funding is available and invites the States Parties to contribute financially to this end;
  8. Also invites the States Parties to support the activities carried out by the World Heritage Centre for the implementation of the Convention;
  9. Requests the World Heritage Centre to present, at its 43rd session, a report on its activities.
    Thematic Programmes:
  10. Welcomes the progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Thematic Programmes and Initiatives, notes their important contribution towards implementation of the Global Strategy for representative World Heritage List, and thanks all States Parties, donors and other organizations for having contributed to achieving their objectives;
  11. Acknowledges the results achieved by the World Heritage Cities Programme and calls States Parties and other stakeholders to provide human and financial resources ensuring the continuation of this Programme in view of its crucial importance for the conservation of the urban heritage inscribed on the World Heritage List, for the implementation of the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape and its contribution to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals related to cities as well as for its contribution to the preparation of the New Urban Agenda, and further thanks to China and Croatia for their support for the implementation of the Programme;
  12. Also acknowledges the results achieved of the World Heritage Marine Programme, also thanks Flanders, France and the Annenberg Foundation for their support, notes the increased focus of the Programme on a global managers network, climate change adaptation strategies and sustainable fisheries, and invites States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and other stakeholders to continue to provide human and financial resources to support for the implementation of the Programme;
  13. Further acknowledges the results achieved in the implementation of the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme, in particular the development of the Sustainable Tourism and Visitor Management Assessment tool and encourages States Parties to participate in the pilot testing of the tool, expresses appreciation for the funding provided by the European Commission and further thanks the Republic of Korea, Norway, and Seabourn Cruise Line for their support in the implementation of the Programme’’s activities;
  14. Further notes the progress in the implementation of the Small Island Developing States Programme, its importance for a representative, credible and balanced World Heritage List and building capacity of site managers and stakeholders to implement the World Heritage Convention, thanks furthermore Japan and the Netherlands for their support as well as the International Centre on Space Technology for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) and  the World Heritage Institute of Training & Research for the Asia & the Pacific Region (WHITRAP) as Category 2 Centres for their technical and financial supports and also requests the States Parties and other stakeholders to continue to provide human, financial and technical resources for the implementation of the Programme;
  15. Takes note of the activities implemented jointly by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and ICOMOS under the institutional guidance of the World Heritage Centre, in line with its Decision 40 COM 5D, further requests the World Heritage Centre to disseminate among the States Parties the second volume of the IAU/ICOMOS Thematic Study on Astronomical Heritage and renames this initiative as Initiative on Heritage of Astronomy, Science and Technology;
  16. Also takes note of the progress report on the Initiative on Heritage of Religious Interest, endorses the recommendations of the Thematic Expert Consultation meetings focused on Mediterranean and South-Eastern Europe (UNESCO, 2016), Asia-Pacific (Thailand, 2017) and Eastern Europe (Armenia, 2018), thanks the States Parties for their generous contribution and reiterates its invitation to States Parties and other stakeholders to continue to support this Initiative, as well as its associated Marketplace projects developed by the World Heritage Centre;
  17. Takes note of the activities implemented by CRATerre in the framework of the World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme, under the overall institutional guidance of the World Heritage Centre, and of the lines of action proposed for the future, if funding is available;
  18. Invites States Parties, international organizations and donors to contribute financially to the Thematic Programmes and Initiatives as the implementation of thematic priorities is no longer feasible without extra-budgetary funding;
  19. Requests furthermore the World Heritage Centre to submit an updated result-based report on Thematic Programmes and Initiatives, under Item 5A: Report of the World Heritage Centre on its activities, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.

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Code: 42COM 8B.24
Title: Funerary and Memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front) (Belgium, France)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Recalling the reservations it has expressed concerning the inscription of sites related to negative memories,
  3. Recognizes that the evaluation undertaken by ICOMOS may be considered effective until its 45th session in 2021;
  4. Decides to adjourn consideration of the nomination of the Funerary and Memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front), Belgium and France, until a comprehensive reflection has taken place and the Committee at its 44th session has discussed and decided whether and how sites associated with recent conflicts and other negative and divisive memories might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines;
  5. Encourages States Parties to provide support to the undertaking of the comprehensive reflection, including through contributions or hosting an expert meeting;
  6. Notes that the nomination of the Funerary and Memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front), Belgium and France, could only be considered by the Committee upon further review by the Advisory Bodies in light of Committee decision referred to above and upon receipt of additional information to be provided by the States Parties concerned.

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Code: 42COM 8
Title: Nominations - General Discussion

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/8B and WHC/18/42.COM/INF.8B.3,
  2. Recalling Decisions 42 COM 8B.24, 42 COM 8B.35 and 42 COM 5A (Manama, 2018),
  3. Considering that, in compliance with the Convention and the Operational Guidelines, Outstanding Universal Value is recognised at the time of inscription of a property on the World Heritage List and that no recognition of Outstanding Universal Value is foreseen prior to this stage, decides to include the review of the referral procedure and its application for examination in the framework of the next revision of the Operational Guidelines at its 43rd session in 2019;
  4. Also decides that the evaluation of “sites associated with recent conflicts” shall be undertaken once a comprehensive reflection has taken place and the Committee at its 44th session has discussed and decided how these sites might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines;
  5. Further decides to convene an Expert Meeting on the World Heritage and integrated art to allow for reflection and to develop guidance on whether and how works of art as integral components of nominated properties may be proposed as basis for conveying Outstanding Universal Value, provided that extra-budgetary funding is available and invites the States Parties to contribute to this end;
  6. Finally decides to include in the draft agenda of its 43rd session a general item 8 to allow discussion on the nomination process.

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