Sites associated with memories of Recent Conflicts and the World Heritage Convention - ICOMOS Second Discussion Paper

ICOMOS is pleased to share its second discussion paper on “Sites associated with memories of Recent Conflicts and the World Heritage Convention. Encouraged by the World Heritage Committee to further deepen its analysis and broaden the participation of experts in this new reflection, ICOMOS prepared this second discussion paper to consider the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention, as well as its key concepts, and how sites assorted with memories of recent conflicts relate to these.

It has been prepared on the basis of extensive consultation, from ICOMOS National Committees and International Scientific Committees, but also from several international experts, from all regions of the world, which together reflected a wide variety of expertise.

The paper highlights the difficulties to reconcile the characteristics and values of such sites with the key concept of the World Heritage Convention, but more fundamentally with the purposes of the World Heritage Convention.

One of the strengths of the World Heritage Convention is the way it has reflected changing perceptions of heritage over time. The reflection on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts raises questions related to how far that flexibility can extend in accommodating emerging new types of heritage, whether there are some directions that the World Heritage Convention cannot follow, and, thus, whether its scope needs limits. This is not an entirely recent concern: it was already raised at the World Heritage Committee in 1979 during discussions on the inscription Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland. If the purposes of the World Heritage Convention relate to positive messages and to UNESCO’s Peace Mandate, then consideration needs to be given to how the World Heritage List supports such purposes through defining appropriate constraints/ limits on the scope of heritage that can be inscribed.

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