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Posts Tagged ‘UNESCO Conventions’

Authenticity, Value and Community Involvement in Heritage Management under the World Heritage and Intangible Heritage Conventions

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage and Intangible Heritage Conventions illustrate a broader trend towards greater appreciation of the role of communities concerned in identifying, managing and protecting their heritage today. This paper will discuss requirements for greater community involvement in heritage identification and management under the two Conventions, with special attention to the determination of heritage value and the question of authenticity. The Nara Document on Authenticity of 1994, incorporated into the Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention in 2005 (: Annex 4), encouraged a broader definition of authenticity that is sensitive to cultural context. Nevertheless, the determination of heritage value and authenticity remains in the hands of experts rather than communities associated with World Heritage properties. Although there is no reference to authenticity in the Intangible Heritage Convention, States Parties are specifically requested to ensure that it is communities, groups or individuals concerned who identify the value of their own intangible heritage. Yet because of a lack of oversight mechanisms under the Convention, it is difficult to ensure that this is done, especially since there is no permanent mechanism for community representation to the Organs of either Convention.
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A community convention? An analysis of free, prior and informed consent given under the 2003 Convention

When the 2003 Convention was drafted a decade ago, one of its aims was to overcome the perceived exclusions and shortcomings of the earlier UNESCO heritage conventions, perceived as not community-driven and often Eurocentric in approach. The intention was to adopt a legally binding instrument, which allowed for stronger representation of heritage expressions of the South, which placed communities and grass-roots initiatives at the centre of its activities, and which would strengthen the recognition of, and support for, heritage practitioners. On the occasion of the Convention’s tenth anniversary, this paper offers a review of the Convention’s success rate in community involvement by focusing on two aspects: the degree to which communities were the driving forces or strongly involved partners in the preparation of candidature files for the Convention’s Intangible Heritage Lists and the way in which their free, prior and informed consent was documented. Based on these findings the paper reflects on potential further improvements towards the Convention’s aims within the forthcoming nomination cycles.
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