The ICOMOS Recovery and Reconstruction Project – Its Aims and a Way Forward
Introduction and Background
Discussion on the subject of reconstruction has been difficult, because reconstruction has often been considered as a taboo for heritage conservation. The Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention also states that reconstruction would be justifiable only under “exceptional circumstances” (para.86 of the OG ). Hence debates on reconstruction have taken place within a particular conception of authenticity. The main focus of the debates has been what aspects of heritage should be taken into consideration to assess the aspects and conditions of authenticity. Focus has traditionally been placed on the material aspects of heritage, while other aspects could be considered only if the information on such aspects was proven to have sufficient credibility. This broader approach has been accepted to analyze the authenticity on doctrinal and practical levels. However, when the social dimensions of heritage have been changed through immigration, conflict, and other social phenomena, more elaborate analysis seems necessary.
Unfortunately, what the international community currently faces is far more complex due to large-scale destruction of heritage sites by natural disasters or armed conflicts. The scale of destruction of heritage sites that has occurred during the last few years all over the world is surely the biggest since the WWII. There is no proper doctrinal analysis on such a large-scale destruction of heritage. How to handle such situations is one of the most urgent tasks facing heritage communities today.