Understanding Rights Practices in the World Heritage System: Lessons from the Asia Pacific

What are the major factors shaping, preventing or enhancing human rights-based approaches in the world heritage system?

Summary

The world heritage system aims to protect sites of outstanding universal value. The human rights system aims at advancing democracy and human rights. Both represent global flagship values. 981 world heritage « properties », spread over 160 countries, were recognised by UNESCO between 1972 and 2013. Recently, the agenda of « Our Common Dignity » involves a collective effort to strengthen rights-based approaches in world heritage work. Even if the rights and heritage regimes in theory converge, a number of elements hinder effective practice. Emerging literature points to the critical, yet often problematic, nature of heritage recognition in relation to human rights. The Asia-Pacific region is particularly revelatory in terms of the diverse, social, legal and institutional challenges concerned.

The research team worked in Australia, Vietnam, Nepal and the Philippines as well as on the international level to explore the realization of human rights in the World Heritage system at a site, national and international level. To harmonize the team’s approaches, they defined four groups of human rights they wanted to analyse more closely:

  • Land, property and resource rights
  • Participation and consultation rights
  • Livelihood and development rights
  • Minority, indigenous peoples and cultural rights

The team combined legal reviews, in-depth case studies on World Heritage sites, interviews with heritage scholars and national level roundtables to gather insight.

If you would like to know more about the research results, check out the policy briefs with concrete recommendations the team published on each of the countries HERE. The research team organised an international science policy meeting in January 2016, resulting in the Caux Call for Action, which can be found at the end of the Working Paper

Keywords

  • World heritage
  • Human rights
  • Anthropology
  • International studies
  • Interdisciplinarity

Disciplines

  • Anthropology
  • Architecture
  • Human rights
  • Law
  • Urban planning

Collaborations

Non Governmental Organisations:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

States & Public Collectivities:

  • Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Relevant Countries

Australia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam

Status

This project, started in 2014, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Peter Bille Larsen
Coordinator
University of Lucerne

Bettina Beer
Co-Coordinator
University of Lucerne

Malot Ingel
Principal Member
Other

Alexander Morawa
Principal Member
University of Lucerne

Pranita Shrestha
Principal Member
Norges teknisk-naturvitenskaplige universitet

Sudarshan Raj Tiwari
Principal Member
Tribhuvan Vishwavidalaya

Luu Anh Tuyet
Principal Member
Other

Bipin Adhikari
Associated Member
Kathmandu University School of Law

Tim Badman
Associated Member
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Hans Christie Bjønness
Associated Member
Norges teknisk-naturvitenskaplige universitet

 

Ben Boer
Associated Member
University of Sydney

Kristal Buckley
Associated Member
Deakin University

Nguyen Duy Luong
Associated Member
Other

Nghiem Thi Kim Hoa
Associated Member
Other

Ian Lilley
Associated Member
University of Queensland

Nguyen Linh Qiang
Associated Member
Other

Lucille Karen (Kay) Malilong-Isberto
Associated Member
Other

Gonzalo Oviedo
Associated Member
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Amund Sinding-Larsen
Associated Member
ICOMOS Norway