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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?

Project 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.

Academic Output

Working Paper

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

This research project – and working paper – is about generating a better understanding of the intersection between World Heritage and Human Rights with a focus on the Asia Pacific region and global level processes. It involved an international research team composed of

1 anthropologists, legal scholars, architects and heritage practitioners. The research team ,

coordinated from the University of Lucerne, involved researchers from Vietnam Academic of Social Sciences, Kathmandu University, Norwegian Technical University, Deakin University, Quang Binh University, University of Sydney and the University of Queensland as well as independent scholars from the region. It was undertaken in close partnership with the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as well engaging with institutional representatives from UNESCO, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The team consisted of a part-time coordinator position in Lucerne, two student assistants and national teams of researchers.

Executive Summary

This research project sought to identify major factors shaping, preventing or enhancing the implementation of rights-based approaches in the World Heritage system in general and in the Asia-Pacific regions in particular. It combines analysis and case-studies of World Heritage sites and legal frameworks in Australia, Nepal, Philippines and Vietnam together with analysis of global policies and decision-making processes. Undertaken in partnership with ICOMOS and IUCN, two Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention, the research has played a significant role in stimulating debate and generating knowledge about the multi-facetted intersection between human rights and world heritage processes.

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

Usefull Links

  • Book: World Heritage and Human Rights: https://www.routledge.com/World-Heritage-and-Human-Rights-Lessons-from-the-Asia-Pacific-and-global/Larsen/p/book/9781138224223
  • Project Website: http://projects.snis.ch/rights-world-heritage-system/

Status

completed

Disciplines

Themes

Regions

Countries

Australia, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam

Host Institution

Coordinator

Year