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Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

Kerstin Manz

World Heritage – from concept to implementation Abstract Since its adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972, the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage has witnessed increasing success both in terms of concrete heritage protection measures in the States Parties to the convention and in terms of heightening awareness of cultural and natural heritage around the world. The World Heritage Convention is the first international treaty to address the safeguarding of both cultural and natural heritage using the overriding concept of “outstanding universal value”. The first two Articles of the Convention define the notion of heritage, whereby cultural heritage is referred to as immovable heritage and defined in three categories: monuments, groups of buildings, and sites. Drafted as a consensus document that needs to be applicable in all regions of the world, these categories allow further interpretation. Over the last thirty years, the concept of cultural heritage has been developed further and broadened to include urban ensembles (historic cities), cultural landscapes, associative sites, industrial sites and modern architecture. Not only is this reflected in the World Heritage List – the most widely acknowledged and visible result of the Convention’s work – but also in the changes that have been made over time to the “Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention”, directing each step of the Convention work. While the implementation of the Convention in view of conservation is clearly defined through the official texts, the aspects of communication, information, promotion and utilisation of the World Heritage at site-level can be subject to individual interpretation, and depend on specific national policies. In addition to describing the use and functioning of the Convention as a powerful tool for international heritage protection, this paper presents specific case studies on utilisation and promotion.

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Introduction

Since its adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972, the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage has witnessed increasing success both in terms of concrete heritage protection measures in the States Parties to the convention and in terms of heightening awareness of cultural and natural heritage around the world. The World Heritage Convention is the first international treaty to address the safeguarding of

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Kerstin Manz: World Heritage – from concept to implementation

both cultural and natural heritage using the overriding concept of “outstanding universal value”. While World Heritage is a mental construct reflecting the mind set of the era of its creation, it is above all an idealistic goal that has succeeded in uniting nations through a common idea of sharing. This idea is intrinsically linked to UNESCO’s major role in promoting peace through its fields of competence, culture, education and science. As Russell Train, one of the founding fathers of the Convention, put it at the Convention’s 30 th anniversary in 2002: “From the beginning, I have seen the purpose of the World Heritage as being something more than simply helping to assure protection and quality management for unique natural and cultural sites around the world – as critically important as that goal is. Above and beyond that goal, I see the programme as an opportunity to convey the idea of a common heritage among nations and peoples everywhere. I see it as a compelling idea that can help to unite people rather than divide them. I see it as an idea that can help to build a sense of community among people throughout the world. The vision I leave with you is that the World Heritage should not only ensure the protection of the world’s unique natural and cultural sites but should help to instil in the world’s peoples a new sense of our kinship with one another as part of a single, global community.” The Convention was therefore not only the first international document to unite the aspects of culture and nature, as mentioned above, but also to define common grounds for the identification and protection of a universal heritage. Batisse and Bolla  point out that at the time of its adoption the World Heritage Convention was also the first international instrument to define and protect cultural heritage. This fact deserves particular emphasis as it may be forgotten in the context of today’s interpretation and appreciation of a variety of cultural heritage. Before 1972, only the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954 (Hague Convention) had addressed this very specific aspect of cultural heritage protection. It is only during recent years that other international treaties concerning the safeguarding of cultural heritage have been adopted by the international community, such as the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage in 2003 and the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions in 2005 (see Implementation 3 later in this document).

2 The World Heritage concept and its definition of cultural heritage The World Heritage Convention is aimed at protecting heritage of ‘outstanding universal value’ that calls for the common responsibility of the interna 

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UNESCO/WHC (2003b): 38. Batisse, Bolla (2003).


Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

tional community. While the term of ‘outstanding universal value’ is an integral part of the notion of World Heritage, it is not defined in the text of the World Heritage Convention.  As a substitute, the Convention stipulates how to establish criteria for determining whether a property belonging to the cultural or natural heritage is of ‘outstanding universal value’. Furthermore, “to be deemed of outstanding universal value, a property must also meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity and must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding.” The first two Articles of the Convention define the notion of heritage, whereby cultural heritage is referred to as immovable heritage and defined in three categories: monuments, groups of buildings, and sites. Drafted as a consensus document that needs to be applicable in all regions of the world, these categories allow further interpretation. Cultural heritage: ▪ monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; ▪ groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; ▪ sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view; These three cultural categories have been translated into six criteria in the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in order to define precisely the specific character and the outstanding universal value of each site. (i) represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or (ii) exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design; or (iii) bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared; or (iv) be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; or (v) be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or land-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; or  

Extensive discussions reflected in UNESCO/WHC (2003b): 134–137. Paragraph 78 of the Operational Guidelines (2005).

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Kerstin Manz: World Heritage – from concept to implementation

(vi) be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (the Committee considers that this criterion should justify inclusion in the List only in exceptional circumstances and in conjunction with other criteria cultural or natural); For the sake of completeness, the aspect of natural heritage shall be mentioned as well, given that the three natural categories and their four criteria are also based on man-made concepts and scientific knowledge from a certain time. This is particularly obvious for the category of “areas with scientific, conservation and aesthetic value”, and criterion seven that mentions “[...] exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”. Natural heritage categories: ▪ outstanding physical, biological and geological formations; ▪ habitats of threatened species of animals and plants; ▪ areas with scientific, conservation or aesthetic value; Translated into the following criteria for inclusion of natural properties on the World Heritage List: (vii) contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance; (viii) be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features; (ix) be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; (x) contain the most important and significant natural habitats for insitu conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. The establishment of the World Heritage List is the most visible aspect of the Convention’s implementation and reflects the interpretation of heritage and its outstanding universal value over the course of the Convention’s existence in different countries and regions. The first cultural World Heritage sites to be inscribed in the late 1970s were mainly single monuments representing major religious and secular buildings as well as archaeological sites in the European and Mediterranean region. Some examples of the first sites inscribed in the years 1978 and 1979 are Aachen Cathedral (Germany), Krakow’s Historic Centre (Poland), and Amphitheatre of El Jem (Tunisia) as well as natural sites such as Yellowstone (USA) and Galapagos Islands (Ecuador). However, the Island of Gorée (Senegal) was also inscribed in 1978 exclusively under criterion (vi), thereby recognising the outstanding associative value of this important site for slave trade and reconciliation.

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Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

Over the last thirty years, however, the concept of cultural heritage has been further developed and broadened to include urban ensembles (historic cities), vernacular architecture and rural villages, cultural landscapes, industrial sites and modern architecture. Some examples of the cultural sites last inscribed in July 2005 are Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpetre Works (Chile), Le Havre – the City rebuilt by Auguste Perret (France), and The Incense Route – Desert Cities in the Negev (Israel). An important step forward was the recognition of the concept of cultural landscapes by the World Heritage Committee in 1992 and its inclusion in the Operational Guidelines so that the World Heritage Convention became the first international legal instrument to recognise and protect cultural landscapes. The definition of cultural landscapes as “combined works of nature and of man” in Article 1 of the Convention helped to significantly advance the Convention’s goal to link natural and cultural heritage. The aspect of human coexistence with the land was emphasised taking into account the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal.

Fig. 1 World Heritage Sites

 

von Droste, Plachter, Rössler (1995). Cultural landscapes are grouped according to the following three categories in Annex 3 of the Operational Guidelines 2005: 1. the clearly defined landscape designed and created intentionally by man such as gardens and parks, 2. the organically evolved landscape as a result of social, economic, administrative, and/or religious imperatives in response to its natural environment, and 3. the associative cultural landscape reflecting powerful religious, artistic or cultural associations of the natural element.

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Kerstin Manz: World Heritage – from concept to implementation

Recently, the notion of ‘historic urban landscapes’ has been developed. The ‘Declaration on the Conservation of Historic Urban Landscapes’ encourages the incorporation of this broadened understanding of urban areas and of monuments in urban context into future nominations of sites as well as into the evaluation of site-specific problems. Today (as of July 2005), a total of 812 World Heritage properties are inscribed on the World Heritage List showing a strong imbalance in favour of cultural properties (628) compared to 160 natural and 24 mixed cultural and natural properties in 137 signatory states (see Fig. 1). In line with the Convention’s role to enhance international cooperation, transboundary and trans-national sites have increasingly been proposed by the signatory states and inscribed on the List.

3 The Implementation of the World Heritage Convention Implementation 1: Legal framework and institutionalisation

The Convention as an international treaty sets the framework for the protection of World Heritage sites, international cooperation, and defines the different entities that implement the Convention. At a workshop on legal aspects of the Convention in 2002 the participants concluded that the World Heritage Convention as a unique legal instrument “has the capacity to reconcile [...] opposing interests [such as] culture and nature, national legislation and common heritage of humanity, permanent sovereignty and international solidarity, cultural identity and universality”.  Other particular features of the Convention include the establishment of a World Heritage Committee, a World Heritage List, a List of World Heritage in Danger, a World Heritage Fund, a system of international assistance for, and reporting by States Parties, the involvement of organisations (nongovernmental and intergovernmental) in the evaluation of World Heritage nominations and monitoring of World Heritage properties and a designated Secretariat. The ‘Who is who’ of the main actors in the Convention work reads as follows: the General Assembly of all States Parties (with 180 States Parties), the World Heritage Committee (21 members10) and its World Heritage Bureau (7 members), the Secretariat of the Convention (UNESCO World Heritage Centre), and the Advisory Bodies IUCN-World Conservation Union, ICOMOS-International Council on Monuments and Sites, as well as ICCROMInternational Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property. Based on the aforementioned criteria, sites are proposed for inscription by each country on whose territory the sites are located. Given the intergovernmental character of UNESCO’s work and thus also the Convention’s imple

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The Declaration was adopted by the General Assembly of the Convention on 10 th October 2005.



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UNESCO/WHC (2003b): 135.



As of March 2005. http://whc.unesco.org/en/comittee/


Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

mentation, the responsibility lies with each State that signs the Convention – the sovereignty of each signatory State is thus guaranteed. The details of the actual implementation of the Convention, however, are defined in the ‘Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention’, mentioned earlier. The latest version dated February 2005 reflects to what extent the Convention has become an increasingly complex system since its adoption in 1972. This is partly due to the growing number and the diversified types (and problems) of sites inscribed on the List but also due to the requirements of partnerships and programmes set up for their promotion and safeguarding. As an example, the guidelines and authorisation for use of the World Heritage emblem (see Fig. 2) are defined in the Operational Guidelines11, and the legal protection of the emblem was eventually granted this year.

Fig. 2 World Heritage emblem

Implementation 2: World Heritage listing and its practical consequences Based on the Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention, the main goals of the Convention are the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of World Heritage. These articles also outline a rough work plan by asking to “ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation through: (a) general policy giving cultural and natural heritage a function in the life of the community and integrating protection into comprehensive planning programmes; (b) services for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage with an appropriate staff; (c) scientific and technical studies and research; (d) appropriate legal, scientific, technical, administrative and financial measures necessary; and (e) establishment or development of national or regional centres for training.”12 While the implementation of the Convention in view of conservation is clearly defined through the official texts, the aspects of communication, information, promotion and utilisation of the World Heritage status at site-level is subject to individual interpretation, and depends on specific national policies. With the public visibility of World Heritage, the listing of sites triggers off both positive and negative effects at a site level. Practical consequences of the World Heritage status can thus include enhanced legal protection and financial support of conservation work. It further promotes the pride of the local communities as well as the interest of the global community in the site.

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paragraphs 258–279. Article 5 of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, 1972.

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Kerstin Manz: World Heritage – from concept to implementation

Usually an increase in visitors’ numbers is noticed directly after inscription on the World Heritage List. Tourism and visitation, though, is well known to be a double-edged sword13, and it depends greatly on the local management whether it helps to improve the economic well-being of the local population without creating threats to the sites’ state of conservation and integrity. In the framework of the World Heritage Centre’s work, the ‘Sustainable Tourism Programme’ has been launched to help mediate the risks of site visitation and turn tourism into a valuable instrument for local and regional development. Implementation 3: World Heritage Convention as part of an ensemble of UNESCO standard-setting instruments for cultural heritage As mentioned above, cultural heritage has recently been the focus of new standard-setting instruments adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO’s member states. With the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage in 2003 and of the Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions in 2005, a broader understanding and varied types of cultural heritage have been given an international forum and a basis to be recognised and safeguarded. The new conventions will undoubtedly help to balance the geographical representation of cultural expressions in the regions in the world. Future challenges will include discussions on how these conventions can complement one another best without creating competition – a task to be undertaken by UNESCO, its Advisory Bodies, and the scientific community.

4 Final considerations The World Heritage Convention provides remarkable evidence for heritage and its interpretation over recent decades. It also shows how identification and protection of heritage can be institutionalised on an international level – with all its constructive and hampering effects. It very clearly reflects that ‘heritage is also political’, as has been repeatedly stated during the HERMES symposium in Krakow. It is often noted that the World Heritage Convention is at risk of losing its credibility due to the ever growing List of World Heritage properties. It is also often mentioned that, being an intergovernmental instrument, the Convention lacks a strong penalising device to avoid the destruction of heritage. Ongoing discussions on these points oppose two interpretations of the goals of the Convention: the idea to keep the World Heritage List an exclusive continuation of the ‘seven wonders of the world’, and the approach that a higher number of World Heritage properties also ensures the safeguarding of more sites for future generations. Given the intergovernmental nature of the work of the Convention, and given that over 40 signatory States do not have any World Heritage properties listed, the growth of the List is likely to continue. However, the credibility of the World Heritage Convention and its List can be addressed by considering merging properties of similar character into serial properties both on the national and the trans-national level. Not only would this have the ‘cosmetic’ result of decreasing the number of properties, but it would also imply taking the next step in the implementation of the Conven13

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“Tourism is like fire – it can cook your meal or burn your house down”, Asian saying.


Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

tion by endorsing cooperation among properties and countries. Nonetheless, the implementation of the Convention can be seen as an overall success. While the growing number of sites may also be interpreted as a positive sign, it is the attention paid to World Heritage in the media and public debates and continuing increased awareness of heritage conservation which are the most important indicators of this success. For the promotion and utilisation of cultural heritage on a regional and local level, World Heritage properties can serve as examples. Benefiting from international attention and ideally from best standard conservation tools, such sites help to draw attention to a region and raise awareness among all stakeholders. In this spirit, I wish to conclude by recalling one result of an expert meeting in 2003 where the participants pointed out that “universal and local values are part of a continuum, not a hierarchy, and should not be separated. Indeed, it is not viable to identify or manage universal value without acknowledging and maintaining value of place to the local peoples”.14

UNESCO Conventions Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Paris, 16th November 1972. Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17th October 2003. Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions, Paris, 20 th October 2005.

Bibliography Batisse, Michel; Bolla, Gerald (2003): The Invention of World Heritage. Paris. Boukhari, Sophie (1996): Beyond the monuments: a living heritage. – In: UNESCO sources 80: 7–16. Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission e.V., Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus (eds; 2002): Natur und Kultur. Ambivalente Dimensionen unseres Erbes. Perspektivenwechsel. Michalowski, Andrzej (eds; 2000): The Regional Expert Meeting on the Cultural Landscapes in Eastern Europe. Białystok, Poland 29 September – 3 October 1999. Warszawa: Ośrodek Ochrony Zabytkowego Krajobrazu, Narodowa Instytucja Kultury (= Studia i Materiały). 14

UNESCO/WHC (2004e): 166.

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Pressouyre, Léon (1996): The World Heritage Convention, twenty years later. Paris: UNESCO. UNESCO/WHC (2002a): World Heritage – Archaeological Sites and Urban Centres. Paris. UNESCO/WHC (2002b): Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: a Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 1). UNESCO/WHC (2002c): Investing in World Heritage: Past Achievements, Future Ambitions. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 2). UNESCO/WHC (2003a): World Heritage – Monumental Sites. Paris. UNESCO/WHC (2003b): World Heritage 2002 – shared legacy, common responsibility. Paris. UNESCO/WHC (2003c): Identification and Documentation of Modern Heritage. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 5). UNESCO/WHC (2003d): Mobilising Young People for World Heritage. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 8). UNESCO/WHC (2004a): World Heritage Cultural Landscapes – 1992–2002. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 6). UNESCO/WHC (2004b): Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 7). UNESCO/WHC (2004c): Partnerships for World Heritage Cities: Culture as a Vector for Sustainable Urban Development. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 9). UNESCO/WHC (2004d): Monitoring World Heritage. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 10). UNESCO/WHC (2004e): Linking Universal and Local Values: Managing a Sustainable Future for World Heritage. Paris (= World Heritage Paper Series; 13). UNESCO/WHC (2005): Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Paris. von Droste, Bernd; Plachter, Harald; Rössler, Mechtild (eds; 1995): Cultural Landscapes of Universal Value. Components of a Global Strategy. Jena: Fischer. von Droste, Bernd; Rössler, Mechtild; Titchen, Sarah (eds; 1998): Linking Nature and Culture. Report on the Global Strategy, Natural and Cultural Heritage Expert Meeting 25 – 29 March. Amsterdam.

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Practical Aspects of Cultural Heritage

Author Kerstin Manz, born 1971 in Berlin, Germany Education / Professional career: ▪ Master Studies in geography, cartography and art history in Berlin; ▪ Postgraduate studies in cultural and tourism management at Paris I–Sorbonne 2002–03 ▪ Research assistant at the Institute for Regional Geography (IFL), Leipzig, 1998–2001; ▪ Research assistant at the Institute for urban and regional planning of the Ile-de-France region (IAURIF), Paris 2001–2002; ▪ Programme specialist at the Europe and North America Unit of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris, with regional responsibility for Western Europe and North America, and thematic responsibility for the Cities Programme and cultural tourism, since April 2003. Contact UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Paris/France E-mail: k.manz@unesco.org

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HERMES Volume 1 - Manz