Reflection on Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts and other negative and divisive memories
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.
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.
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.
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.
Monday, 18 January 2021
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