18 April 2021 | Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures

Logo18 April IcomosIn 1982, ICOMOS established 18 April as the International Day for Monuments and Sites, followed by UNESCO adoption during its 22nd General Conference. Each year, on this occasion, ICOMOS proposes a theme for activities to be organized by its members, National and International Scientific Committees, partners, and anyone who wants to join in marking the Day.

Acknowledging global calls for greater inclusion and recognition of diversity, the International Day for Monuments and Sites 2021 invites participants to reflect on, reinterpret, and re-examine existing narratives.
ICOMOS encourages you to come together to share your experiences – of course in compliance with instructions from local and national authorities so as to ensure the safety of participants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Complex Pasts: Diverse Futures

Conservation of cultural heritage requires critical examination of the past, as much as its practice demands provision for the future. Debates on the omission and erasure of certain narratives, and the privileging of particular stories over others, have come to a head in recent years. Addressing contested histories hence involves complex conversations, avoiding biased views and interpretations of the past.

The World Heritage Convention (1972) states: “deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural or natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world” – however imbalances in recognition, interpretation and ultimately, conservation of various cultural manifestations continue to exist.

ICOMOS wishes to engage in promoting new discourses, different and nuanced approaches to existing historical narratives, to support inclusive and diverse points of view.

Uncovering and generating more inclusive narratives can span a wide range of conservation issues, from toppled monuments of oppression within shared civic spaces to the treatment of ancestral sites, and indigenous domains across cultural landscapes. Today, many monuments and sites stand with their multi-layered history and importance which call for inclusive approaches.








In this United Nations Decade of Action for Sustainable Development, ICOMOS recognises the need to put a focus on heritage that represents diverse cultures and communities (SDG10), promotes the equal rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community (SDG5) in order to illustrate a more tolerant and peaceful future (SDG16).







We therefore invite you to join this renewed call to action: fair and just futures require open, tolerant, and empathetic interpretations of heritage philosophies and practices in the present, starting with self-reflection.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites 2021 draws its inspiration from the cross-cutting discourse hosted by ICOMOS initiatives, including but not limited to: the inaugural ‘Diversify/Decolonise Heritage!’ Workshop (launched in July 2020), various symposia dedicated to the themes of ‘Shared Cultures, Shared Heritage, Shared Responsibility’, workshops on Human Rights and Heritage Management, the webinars addressing ‘Indigenous Peoples and World Heritage’ and ‘People + Peace: The Role of Cultural Heritage in Building a More Just and Peaceful World Through Education, Diversity and Community Inclusion’ as examples of the work carried out by ICOMOS Committees and Working Groups on these important issues.

Pathways towards more inclusive narratives have emerged through many existing initiatives, ranging from climate action, rights-based approaches to heritage along with the SDGs Decade of Action, and the Culture-Nature Journey.

The International Day for Monuments and Sites 2021 presents an opportunity to provide an open platform for wide involvement and participation!

Get Involved!

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, most events will be accessible online. We encourage you to contact the organizers of events in your country, and you can share your events by writing to: calendrier[at]icomos.org

Potential formats for participation can include, but are not limited to:

  • 1-2 minute (max) video submissions from each ICOMOS National Committee, International Scientific Committee and Working Group, showcasing local and regional approaches towards generating inclusive narratives. The videos may be shared across ICOMOS Social Media Platforms or sent to calendrier[at]icomos.org. Make sure to include descriptions, quotes or facts to accompany any video, as well as hashtags.
  • Photographic submission with captions to explain current approaches, changing narratives and goals for the future. In all cases, please make sure that you retain the rights to any image you post and post it on Social Media.
  • Organize Virtual Roundtables, Host Webinars, propose Workshops to reflect on the gaps in current theory and practice and invite others to join the discussion. Using Twitter threads, tell a story about your complex pasts to present more inclusive stories and to build diverse futures. Don’t forget to use images and hashtags!

Use designated hashtags to join in the celebration!
#18April #ICOMOS #ComplexPast #DiverseFutures #IDMS2021

To strengthen ICOMOS’ actions to link heritage as driver of achieving sustainable development, organisers are also requested to include relevant SDGs icons (SDGs 5, 10, 11,15, 16) to strengthen the messages to be shared in these discussions.
These icons can be found here.

Let us know how you will celebrate!

Please inform the ICOMOS International Secretariat of planned 18 April initiatives so that we can publish them on the ICOMOS website and share your activities among the members of the worldwide ICOMOS family.

Please send the information to: calendrier[at]icomos.org using the format below (please use short sentences to enable a concise presentation and mention “18 April event – your Committee” in the email subject line):

  • Title
  • Who? Organisers
  • What? Short presentation of the activity
  • When?
  • Where? Country, town
  • Official contact
  • Official website
  • Attachments: Poster / leaflet

If you are participating through a photographic or graphic submission, please make sure you hold the rights of the images and add the image credits to your message to the Secretariat along with a written authorization for ICOMOS to use the images and share them on our website, social media and online and printed annual reports free of charge in perpetuity.

Key References

téléchargementDownload the 18 April 2021 leaflet in: English - French - Spanish 


EnglishDownload the IDMS posters in around 30 languages:

Arabic  -  Armenian  -  Assam  -  Bengali  -  Bosnian  -  Chinese  -  Croatian  -  English  -  Filipino  -  French  -  Gujarati  -  Hebrew  -  Hindi  -  Italian  -  Japanese  -  Latvian  -  Macedonian  -  Marathi  -  Norwegian  -  Odia-Odisha  -  Portuguese  -  Punjabi  -  Russian  -  Serbian  -  Slovenian  -  Spanish  -  Tamil  -  Turkish  -  Urdu






See also

Picto doigt18 April 2020 | Share your events on ICOMOS's interactive map!

Picto doigt  Looking Back on 18 April 2020 - Thank You!


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