The History of World Heritage and it Relevance to a Global Strategy for Future Inscriptions

  • Author: Douglas C. Comer
  • Topic: Heritage studies
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

A global study carried out by ICOMOS from 1987 to 1993 revealed that
Europe, historic towns and religious monuments, Christianity, historical periods
and ‘elitist’ architecture (in relation to vernacular) were all overrepresented
on the World Heritage List; whereas, all living cultures, and especially
‘traditional cultures’, were underrepresented. Despite this, as a recent
ICOMOS report notes, “The World Heritage Convention has been
dubbed the flagship programme of UNESCO, setting the standard for conventions,
instruments and programs for conservation. The number of States
Parties to the World Heritage Convention now numbers 186, making its
reach nearly universal.” Further, more States Parties have signed this document
than have signed any international treaty. To understand better how
this situation came about, and how to rectify imbalances in the World Heritage
List, it is helpful to know something of the historic events that led to the
creation of the List, as well as how ICOMOS, which advises the World Heritage
Committee on nominations of cultural sites to the World Heritage List,
and on cultural matters in general, is organized. Vital parts of ICOMOS are
the scientific committees, which function as wells of expertise from which
facts and educated and informed opinion can be drawn. Perhaps the largest
of the scientific committees is the International Scientific Committee for Archaeological
Heritage Management (ICAHM). This presentation will review
the history and organization of the World Heritage Convention, ICOMOS,
and ICAHM, and the ways in which ICAHM plans to contribute to the Global
Strategy for Future Inscriptions, as well as in supporting inscribed archaeological
sites through monitoring and consultation.

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