Charters and other doctrinal texts

CCommons By non


All ICOMOS doctrinal texts are distributed under the Creative Commons licence "Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives CC BY-NC-ND".

This license allows you to download and share the texts freely, provided that you credit ICOMOS by name and do not modify them in any way.



(see also "Monuments and Sites" - vol. I, 2004)


Venice Charter and cultural heritage sites


Archaeological heritage


ArchitecturalHeritageArchitectural heritage


CulturalLandscapesCultural landscapes

CulturalRoutesCultural routes

CulturalTourismCultural tourism


HistoricCitiesTownsVillagesandGardensHistoric cities, towns, villages and gardens


IndustrialHeritageIndustrial heritage


MilitaryHeritageMilitary heritage

MuralPaintingsMural paintings


PolarHeritagePolar heritage


UnderwaterCulturalHeritageUnderwater cultural heritage


VernacularArchitectureVernacular architecture








Charter for the preservation of Quebec's heritage

Charter for the preservation of Quebec's heritage

Deschambault Declaration
Adopted by the Conseil des monuments et des sites du Québec,
ICOMOS Canada French-Speaking Committee, April 1982.


The postwar period has witnessed the worldwide spread of various currents of thought that seem to adjust people's way of living to new socio- economic conditions, and to criticize the consequences of industrialization, of urbanization on a massive scale, of progress at all costs, and of the consumer society. Whether extreme or moderate, these ideologies have helped to make people aware of certain human values that merited preservation. These things of value include the architectural, artistic or simply material remains that our predecessors have bequeathed us.

The basic principles of heritage preservation were set forth in the

Venice International Charter of 1964, which was signed by experts from many countries. The aim of this charter was to regulate and promote efforts to safeguard national heritages. Subsequently, at Amsterdam and Nairobi this initial undertaking was further developed by the addition of other basic principles that expressed an increased desire not only to pass on an accumulated heritage, but also to broaden the concept of heritage itself. Henceforth, people wanted to ensure the preservation of all aspects of national heritage.

This movement began to have a noticeable influence on Quebec from 1960 on. The Quebec government's first action in this field was to create a Ministry of Cultural Affairs which made it possible to pass the Cultural Properties Act in 1972. At that moment our heritage acquired value in the eyes of the law. However, even before this Act was passed, the community had organized itself into groups that differed in structure, but shared a common desire to become involved in safeguarding their environment and culture, and to develop strategies that would make the different levels of government aware of the issue.

This individual and collective commitment resulted in significant achievements in the areas of preservation, stimulation of community participation and development. Whether through municipal, provincial or federal programs, large-scale projects or more modest actions, the people of Quebec have shown that they are interested in their heritage and are determined to revive it.

The Conseil des monuments et sites du Québec offers this charter in support of these efforts. The Charter is intended as an orientation guide, a reference tool, a remedy and above all a code of ethics that we should adopt in dealing with our heritage. While this charter draws upon previous experience and on international currents of thought, the principles of preservation and development it contains may be applied by all individuals and organizations that are concerned with the protection of the natural, cultural and historical aspects of the Quebec heritage.

The first aim of this charter, which has been specifically drafted for Quebec, is to try to identify our cultural personality, and thereby define the special nature of our heritage. Secondly, the charter seeks to encourage people to think before they act; and finally, it proposes a framework for action that is positive and objective, that provides incentive, and that takes into account both the particular problems of Quebec and contemporary doctrines of heritage development.


The experience of Quebec is similar to that of other nations in that the specific character of its culture has been determined by its history which has taken place in a particular environment. The main features of this environment are a harsh climate, a vast territory, the relatively recent establishment of a North American civilization that is European in origin, the French fact, Catholicism and a particular pattern of human settlement.

Wrested from the American Indians who were its original inhabitants, Quebec became first a French, then a British colony, and finally a part of the Canadian confederation. Quebec's political history has been marked by the struggle to preserve its French and Catholic roots on a North American continent where the majority of the population is and has been English-speaking.

Nevertheless, a variety of elements has contributed to the development of our social fabric. In the course of time, immigrants from different places have been added to the amalgam of the three peoples who originally fought over the territory of Quebec. Sometimes immigration occurred all at once, as in the case of the Loyalists and the Irish; and sometimes it was spread over time, as happened with the Italians and the Chinese. Little by little, the immigrant phenomenon has altered the physiognomy and mentality of Quebec's population.

Our material heritage has been marked not only by this mixture of cultural traits, but also by certain fashions that have had international currency. Of these, the Victorian influence is certainly the most important, but we also find traces of Art Nouveau, the skyscraper era and many other esthetic or technological vogues.

Economic life, that mainspring of societies, has probably had the greatest impact on the distribution of Quebec's population. From the very beginning, more or less densely populated communities were concentrated in areas that had acquired importance because of the fur trade. Seigniorial estates and English townships provided the framework for the development of agriculture. Many elements of our society were drawn northward by the forest products and mining industries. Finally, the spectacular growth of the United States had repercussions of the utmost importance on our economic model and our way of life: massive urbanization, high rate of consumption, establishment of large industrial centres and development of means of transportation for natural, human and energy resources.

Many other factors have contributed to the shaping of our image. The preponderance of Catholicism prompted the proliferation of churches and convents and gave rise to an art that was centered on the sacred. The rigors of the climate forced people to make adaptations in every aspect of their way of life. As for the distribution of population, it was for the most part determined by the waterways of the St. Lawrence basin.

It would be pointless to offer here an exhaustive list of all the geographic, social, historical and economic factors that have contributed to the development of our cultural fabric. Suffice it to say that this ferment of ideas, habits and customs, taking place as it did in a particular geographic context, has given rise to traditions, a folklore, a mentality, ways of doing things, and architecture, a social structure and, in sum, an art of living that is uniquely Quebecois. Though the elements that make up this culture have not all been integrated to the same degree, nor in the same way, their importance cannot be doubted. They constitute our heritage, which is nourished and strengthened by the past, and continues to flourish in the lives of the present generations. We cannot allow this dynamic growth to be cut off from its roots.


We felt the need to publish this charter because all too often our heritage is threatened, when it is not forgotten or destroyed. This problem, of course, is not peculiar to Quebec. Modernization and the pursuit of new lifestyles have, in fact, relentlessly imperiled national heritages everywhere. Such is the price of progress!

In Quebec, the great distances between population centres and the immensity of the territory have led to a more or less integrated development. All these factors have been unfavorable to the preservation of our national heritage. Consequently, we must show greater vigilance, enhance dialogue and consultation, and do more to mobilize the forces of the community.

The climate is also, at times, a menace to our architectural heritage and to the remains of former times. Frost, especially combined with thawing, has a serious effect on buildings in Quebec. Rapid and technologically competent action is necessary in this area.

Finally, our European and North American cultural heritage is threatened by a danger that is less perceptible but no less real than the others. Because this culture is of recent origin and only extends over a short span of time, it would be inappropriate to rely solely on chronological classification to determine the relative value of its different elements. One should not, for example, attribute greater value to the remains of the 18th century than to those of the 19th. Of course, the older things are, the rarer and more valuable they generally are; however, one must use subtlety in judging these matters.


Heritage is defined as "the combined creations and products of nature and man, in their entirety, that make up the environment in which we live in space and time.

Heritage is a reality, a possession of the community, and a rich inheritance that may be passed on, which invites our recognition and our participation."

(Quebec Association for the Interpretation of the National Heritage, Committee on Terminology, July 1980).

The concept of heritage as defined above is intended to cover much more than buildings erected in a more or less distant past. Neither in the past nor in the future is heritage limited in time. We use the heritage of yesterday to build the heritage of tomorrow, for culture is by its very nature dynamic and is constantly being renewed and enriched.

Heritage, in our view, is a very comprehensive term that includes three major entities: material culture (cultural properties) and the geographic and human environments. People are, of course, most familiar with the concept of cultural properties since these are defined by law. We should remember, however, that in addition to formal and popular architecture, these properties include all other forms of material evidence, such as archaeological and ethnographical objects, iconography, written archives, furniture, art objects and, in sum, the whole of the material environment in which we live. The geographical environment is nature as it manifests itself on the territory of Quebec in coast, mountain and plain. We wish to insist above all on the great importance of our landscapes and our natural sites, which have a unique esthetic and/or panoramic value. And let us note, finally, that the people in their environment, who have their own customs and traditions, whose memory is furnished with a particular folklore, and whose way of living is adapted to this specific setting, are a human and social treasure that also requires protection.

This broad definition of our national heritage includes, then, all the elements of our civilization, as they exist not only individually but also as components of larger historical, cultural and traditional unities or, to put it in simpler terms, as examples of man's adaptation to his environment. This concept of heritage includes the idea of a cultural landscape which may be defined as the result of the interaction of human society and nature.

Preservation of the national heritage may be viewed, in this light, as that combination of study, expertise and physical intervention which aims at conserving every element of this heritage in the best possible condition. This activity involves proper maintenance, consolidation, repair, safeguarding and restoration, to prevent the deterioration and, at worst, the destruction of the national heritage.

Article I


Article I-A 
The citizens of Quebec have, in the first place, an individual responsibility to protect their heritage. They must do all they can to appreciate its value, to strive to understand its full significance, and to contribute to its preservation.

Article I-B 
This individual responsibility must also find expression in every decision that is made on behalf of the community, whether by elected representatives or by corporate or institutional managers.

Article II


Article II-A 
The national heritage must be preserved, safeguarded and developed for the benefit of present and future generations. This treasure does not belong to us; it has been entrusted to us so we may pass it on to others. We must ensure its proper use and conservation.

Article II-B 
All the laws and regulations as well as the fiscal, financial and administrative mechanisms in their entirety must further the preservation and development of the national heritage. This action must start at the municipal level, for the municipalities are the primary legal representatives of the community.

Article II-C 
The national heritage must remain in the possession of the people of Quebec, and it must be recognized that cultural properties belong in their place of origin.

Article II-D 
The greatest possible attention must be paid to authenticity in preserving and developing the national heritage, and in passing it on to future generations. When only certain elements of this heritage remain, these must be treated as integral wholes. Any action taken must be comprehensible and reversible.

Article III


Article III-A 
All the appropriate means for acquiring this knowledge must be provided. In particular, we must have up-to-date inventories and the specialized expertise that is required before any action can be taken.

Article IV


Article IV-A 
Interdisciplinary teams must assess the cultural, historical, natural, social and esthetic importance of our heritage on the national, regional and local levels.

Article IV-B 
Respect must be shown for the significant contribution of every historical period.

Article V


Article V-A 
Protection of our national heritage must be ensured, in the first place, by ongoing maintenance.

Article V-B 
The development of cultural properties is of essential importance. This development includes all measures that serve to make them accessible and useful, and that, if necessary, make it possible to reintroduce them into the daily life of the people of Quebec.

Article V-C 
Every action to preserve the national heritage should be designed to conserve as much as possible of the original, and to avoid reconstruction based on conjecture.

Article V-D 
The development of cultural properties should be followed up by the dissemination of that practical knowledge that is required for passing on these properties to future generations and ensuring their permanent protection.

Article VI


Article VI-A 
Legislation affecting the national heritage must take precedence over all other legislation.

Article VI-B 
The principles of protection and development of the national heritage must have primacy in all development plans.

Article VI-C 
When the importance, for our heritage, of a building or group of buildings or landscapes has been recognized, these must take precedence over the rest of the environment. This consideration must be a decisive factor in any alteration of that environment, and the adaption, integration and respect of the heritage material must be ensured.

Article VI-D 
Any contemporary additions, which must be creative works in their own right, have to be integrated and harmonized with the surrounding context in regard to tonality, texture, proportions, pattern of filled and empty spaces, and overall composition.

It must not be forgotten that an archaeological analysis of all ground where new construction is planned is absolutely essential, to uncover the earlier remains of construction and habitation and, where necessary, to examine the possibilities of conservation in site.

Article VII


Article VII-A 
At all times, those who may become involved in actions to preserve our heritage have a responsibility to disseminate information on that heritage, to implement procedures ensuring the circulation of ideas, to further community participation, and to promote the preservation of our heritage.

Article VII-B 
When the national heritage is affected by a particular action, those responsible for that action must consult with the citizens and inform them of the scope of that action.

Documents relating to such actions must be made available to the public and must be prepared in such a way that non-specialists can understand them.

Furthermore, those involved in furthering these actions must develop adequate consultation procedures in order to take note of the opinions of the public. Such procedures will, in particular, include public hearings, information sessions and exhibitions.

Article VIII


Article VIII-A 
Our heritage must be employed in such a way as to maintain or introduce functions that are useful to society and that are compatible with the structure and nature of the buildings, spaces and sites of which it is made up. In using our heritage, we must show consideration for its integration into the economic and social activities of the surrounding community.

Article VIII-B 
We must promote the continuous use of our heritage, without any interruption of occupation.

Article VIII-C 
Whenever we decide to make new use of heritage material, we must ensure the preservation of all the important characteristics of that material.

Any changes that are made must, at all times, be reversible.

Article VIII-D 
The selection of a new function for heritage material must avoid excessive use and the deterioration that would result from such use.

Article IX


Article IX-A 
In using our heritage, we must preserve or reintroduce everyday life rather than the artificial life of museums and tourist centres. Preference should be given to traditional occupations; and we must, in any case, respect the needs and legitimate aspirations of the inhabitants, even if this requires us to adopt uses that are different from the original uses.

Article IX-B 
In other words, it is necessary to encourage respect for the established rights of the local population. The housing function should take precedence over all other uses and be given first priority.

Article X


Article X-A 
Our educational system must disseminate knowledge pertaining to our heritage, to make people aware of its value and of the need to preserve it.

Article X-B 
The educational system must ensure that traditions are passed on, and thereby encourage the training of artisans, technicians and professionals who will be able to work to safeguard our heritage.

Article X-C 
Other educational authorities (the family, newspapers and magazines, radio and TV, etc.) must also do their part in furthering heritage education. In particular, heritage practitioners and specialists increase awareness through the communication of their knowledge to the general public.


Inquiries to:
ICOMOS Canada 

Principles for the recording of monuments, groups of buildings and sites (1996)

(Text ratified by the 11th ICOMOS General Assembly, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 5 to 9 October 1996)

As the cultural heritage is a unique expression of human achievement; and as this cultural heritage is continuously at risk; and as recording is one of the principal ways available to give meaning, understanding, definition and recognition of the values of the cultural heritage; and as the responsibility for conserving and maintaining the cultural heritage rests not only with the owners but also with conservation specialists and the professionals, managers, politicians and administrators working at all levels of government, and with the public; and as article 16 of the Charter of Venice requires, it is essential that responsible organisations and individuals record the nature of the cultural heritage.

The purpose of this document is therefore to set out the principal reasons, responsibilities, planning measures, contents, management and sharing considerations for the recording of the cultural heritage.

Definitions of words used in this document:

Cultural Heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites of heritage value, constituting the historic or built environment.
Recording is the capture of information which describes the physical configuration, condition and use of monuments, groups of buildings and sites, at points in time, and it is an essential part of the conservation process.
Records of monuments, groups of buildings and sites may include tangible as well as intangible evidence, and constitute a part of the documentation that can contribute to an understanding of the heritage and its related values.



1. The recording of the cultural heritage is essential:

a) to acquire knowledge in order to advance the understanding of cultural heritage, its values and its evolution;

b) to promote the interest and involvement of the people in the preservation of the heritage through the dissemination of recorded information;

c) to permit informed management and control of construction works and of all change to the cultural heritage;

d) to ensure that the maintenance and conservation of the heritage is sensitive to its physical form, its materials, construction, and its historical and cultural significance.

2. Recording should be undertaken to an appropriate level of detail in order to:

a) provide information for the process of identification, understanding, interpretation and pre-sentation of the heritage, and to promote the involvement of the public;

b) provide a permanent record of all monuments, groups of buildings and sites that are to be destroyed or altered in any way, or where at risk from natural events or human activities;

c) provide information for administrators and planners at national, regional or local levels to make sensitive planning and development control policies and decisions;

d) provide information upon which appropriate and sustainable use may be identified, and the effective research, management, maintenance programmes and construction works may be planned.

3. Recording of the cultural heritage should be seen as a priority, and should be undertaken especially:

a) when compiling a national, regional, or local inventory;

b) as a fully integrated part of research and conservation activity;

c) before, during and after any works of repair, alteration, or other intervention, and when evidence of its history is revealed during such works;

d) when total or partial demolition, destruction, abandonment or relocation is contemplated, or where the heritage is at risk of damage from human or natural external forces;

e) during or following accidental or unforeseen disturbance which damages the cultural heritage;

f) when change of use or responsibility for management or control occurs.



1. The commitment at the national level to conserve the heritage requires an equal commitment towards the recording process.

2. The complexity of the recording and interpretation processes requires the deployment of individuals with adequate skill, knowledge and awareness for the associated tasks. It may be necessary to initiate training programmes to achieve this.

3. Typically the recording process may involve skilled individuals working in collaboration, such as specialist heritage recorders, surveyors, conservators, architects, engineers, researchers, architectural historians, archaeologists above and below ground, and other specialist advisors.

4. All managers of cultural heritage are responsible for ensuring the adequate recording, quality and updating of the records.



1. Before new records are prepared, existing sources of information should be found and examined for their adequacy.

a) The type of records containing such information should be searched for in surveys, drawings, photographs, published and unpublished accounts and descriptions, and related documents pertaining to the origins and history of the building, group of buildings or site.It is important to search out recent as well as old records;

b) Existing records should be searched for in locations such as national and local public archives, in professional, institutional or private archives, inventories and collections, in libraries or museums;

c) Records should be searched for through consultation with individuals and organisations who have owned, occupied, recorded, constructed, conserved, or carried out research into or who have knowledge of the building, group of buildings or site.

2. Arising out of the analysis above, selection of the appropriate scope, level and methods of recording requires that:

a) The methods of recording and type of documentation produced should be appropriate to the nature of the heritage, the purposes of the record, the cultural context, and the funding or other resources available. Limitations of such resources may require a phased approach to recording. Such methods might include written descriptions and analyses, photographs (aerial or terrestrial), rectified photography, photo-grammetry, geophysical survey, maps, measured plans, drawings and sketches, replicas or other traditional and modern technologies;

b) Recording methodologies should, wherever possible, use non- intrusive techniques, and should not cause damage to the object being recorded;

c) The rational for the intended scope and the recording method should be clearly stated;

d) The materials used for compiling the finished record must be archivally stable.



1. Any record should be identified by:

a) the name of the building, group of buildings or site;

b) a unique reference number;

c) the date of compilation of the record;

d) the name of the recording organisation;

e) cross-references to related building records and reports, photographic, graphic, textual or biblio-graphic documentation, archaeological and environmental records.

2. The location and extent of the monument, group of buildings or site must be given accurately; this may be achieved by description, maps, plans or aerial photographs. In rural areas a map reference or triangulation to known points may be the only methods available. In urban areas an address or street reference may be sufficient.

3. New records should note the sources of all information not obtained directly from the monument, group of buildings or site itself.

4. Records should include some or all of the following information:

a) the type, form and dimensions of the building, monument or site;

b) the interior and exterior characteristics, as appropriate, of the monument, group of buildings or site;

c) the nature, quality, cultural, artistic and scientific significance of the heritage and its components and the cultural, artistic and scientific significance of:
- the materials, constituent parts and construction, decoration,ornament or inscriptions,
- services, fittings and machinery,
- ancillary structures, the gardens, landscape and the cultural,topographical and natural features of the site;

d) the traditional and modern technology and skills used in construction and maintenance;

e) evidence to establish the date of origin, authorship, ownership, the original design, extent, use and decoration;

f) evidence to establish the subsequent history of its uses, associated events, structural or decorative alterations, and the impact of human or natural external forces;

g) the history of management, maintenance and repairs;

h) representative elements or samples of construction or site materials;

i) an assessment of the current condition of the heritage;

j) an assessment of the visual and functional relationship between the heritage and its setting;

k) an assessment of the conflicts and risks from human or natural causes, and from environmental pollution or adjacent land uses.

5. In considering the different reasons for recording (see Section 1.2 above) different levels of detail will be required. All the above information, even if briefly stated, provides important data for local planning and building control and management. Information in greater detail is generally required for the site or building owner’s, manager’s or user’s purposes for conservation, maintenance and use.



1. The original records should be preserved in a safe archive, and the archive’s environment must ensure permanence of the information and freedom from decay to recognised international standards.

2. A complete back-up copy of such records should be stored in a separate safe location.

3. Copies of such records should be accessible to the statutory authorities, to concerned professionals and to the public, where appropriate, for the purposes of research, development controls and other administrative and legal processes.

4. Up-dated records should be readily available, if possible on the site, for the purposes of research on the heritage, management, maintenance and disaster relief.

5. The format of the records should be standardised, and records should be indexed wherever possible to facilitate the exchange and retrieval of information at a local, national or international level.

6. The effective assembly, management and distribution of recorded information requires, wherever possible, the understanding and the appropriate use of up- to-date information technology.

7. The location of the records should be made public.

8. A report of the main results of any recording should be disseminated and published, when appropriate.

The NARA document on authenticity (1994)



1. We, the experts assembled in Nara (Japan), wish to acknowledge the generous spirit and intellectual courage of the Japanese authorities in providing a timely forum in which we could challenge conventional thinking in the conservation field, and debate ways and means of broadening our horizons to bring greater respect for cultural and heritage diversity to conservation practice.

2. We also wish to acknowledge the value of the framework for discussion provided by the World Heritage Committee's desire to apply the test of authenticity in ways which accord full respect to the social and cultural values of all societies, in examining the outstanding universal value of cultural properties proposed for the World Heritage List.

3. The Nara Document on Authenticity is conceived in the spirit of the Charter of Venice, 1964, and builds on it and extends it in response to the expanding scope of cultural heritage concerns and interests in our contemporary world.

4. In a world that is increasingly subject to the forces of globalization and homogenization, and in a world in which the search for cultural identity is sometimes pursued through aggressive nationalism and the suppression of the cultures of minorities, the essential contribution made by the consideration of authenticity in conservation practice is to clarify and illuminate the collective memory of humanity.

Cultural Diversity and Heritage Diversity


5. The diversity of cultures and heritage in our world is an irreplaceable source of spiritual and intellectual richness for all humankind. The protection and enhancement of cultural and heritage diversity in our world should be actively promoted as an essential aspect of human development.

6. Cultural heritage diversity exists in time and space, and demands respect for other cultures and all aspects of their belief systems. In cases where cultural values appear to be in conflict, respect for cultural diversity demands acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the cultural values of all parties.

7. All cultures and societies are rooted in the particular forms and means of tangible and intangible expression which constitute their heritage, and these should be respected.

8. It is important to underline a fundamental principle of UNESCO, to the effect that the cultural heritage of each is the cultural heritage of all. Responsibility for cultural heritage and the management of it belongs, in the first place, to the cultural community that has generated it, and subsequently to that which cares for it. However, in addition to these responsibilities, adherence to the international charters and conventions developed for conservation of cultural heritage also obliges consideration of the principles and responsibilities flowing from them. Balancing their own requirements with those of other cultural communities is, for each community, highly desirable, provided achieving this balance does not undermine their fundamental cultural values.

Values and authenticity


9. Conservation of cultural heritage in all its forms and historical periods is rooted in the values attributed to the heritage. Our ability to understand these values depends, in part, on the degree to which information sources about these values may be understood as credible or truthful. Knowledge and understanding of these sources of information, in relation to original and subsequent characteristics of the cultural heritage, and their meaning, is a requisite basis for assessing all aspects of authenticity.

10. Authenticity, considered in this way and affirmed in the Charter of Venice, appears as the essential qualifying factor concerning values. The understanding of authenticity plays a fundamental role in all scientific studies of the cultural heritage, in conservation and restoration planning, as well as within the inscription procedures used for the World Heritage Convention and other cultural heritage inventories.

11. All judgements about values attributed to cultural properties as well as the credibility of related information sources may differ from culture to culture, and even within the same culture. It is thus not possible to base judgements of values and authenticity within fixed criteria. On the contrary, the respect due to all cultures requires that heritage properties must considered and judged within the cultural contexts to which they belong.

12. Therefore, it is of the highest importance and urgency that, within each culture, recognition be accorded to the specific nature of its heritage values and the credibility and truthfulness of related information sources.

13. Depending on the nature of the cultural heritage, its cultural context, and its evolution through time, authenticity judgements may be linked to the worth of a great variety of sources of information. Aspects of the sources may include form and design, materials and substance, use and function, traditions and techniques, location and setting, and spirit and feeling, and other internal and external factors. The use of these sources permits elaboration of the specific artistic, historic, social, and scientific dimensions of the cultural heritage being examined.

Appendix 1

Suggestions for follow-up (proposed by H. Stovel)

1. Respect for cultural and heritage diversity requires conscious efforts to avoid imposing mechanistic formulae or standardized procedures in attempting to define or determine authenticity of particular monuments and sites.

2. Efforts to determine authenticity in a manner respectful of cultures and heritage diversity requires approaches which encourage cultures to develop analytical processes and tools specific to their nature and needs. Such approaches may have several aspects in common:
- efforts to ensure assessment of authenticity involve multidisciplinary collaboration and the appropriate utilisation of all available expertise and knowledge;
- efforts to ensure attributed values are truly representative of a culture and the diversity of its interests, in particular monuments and sites;
- efforts to document clearly the particular nature of authenticity for monuments and sites as a practical guide to future treatment and monitoring;
- efforts to update authenticity assessments in light of changing values and circumstances.

3. Particularly important are efforts to ensure that attributed values are respected, and that their determination included efforts to build, ad far as possible, a multidisciplinary and community consensus concerning these values.

4. Approaches should also build on and facilitate international co-operation among all those with an interest in conservation of cultural heritage, in order to improve global respect and understanding for the diverse expressions and values of each culture.

5. Continuation and extension of this dialogue to the various regions and cultures of the world is a prerequisite to increasing the practical value of consideration of authenticity in the conservation of the common heritage of humankind.

6. Increasing awareness within the public of this fundamental dimension of heritage is an absolute necessity in order to arrive at concrete measures for safeguarding the vestiges of the past. This means developing greater understanding of the values represented by the cultural properties themselves, as well as respecting the role such monuments and sites play in contemporary society.

Appendix II

Conservation: all efforts designed to understand cultural heritage, know its history and meaning, ensure its material safeguard and, as required, its presentation, restoration and enhancement. (Cultural heritage is understood to include monuments, groups of buildings and sites of cultural value as defined in article one of the World Heritage Convention).

Information sources: all material, written, oral and figurative sources which make it possible to know the nature, specifications, meaning and history of the cultural heritage.

The Nara Document on Authenticity was drafted by the 45 participants at the Nara Conference on Authenticity in Relation to the World Heritage Convention, held at Nara, Japan, from 1-6 November 1994, at the invitation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Government of Japan) and the Nara Prefecture. The Agency organized the Nara Conference in cooperation with UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOMOS. This final version of the Nara Document has been edited by the general rapporteurs of the Nara Conference, Mr. Raymond Lemaire and Mr. Herb Stovel.

Tlaxcala Declaration on the Revitalization of Small Settlements (1982)

The participants attending the third Inter-American Symposium on the Conservation of the Building Heritage devoted to the subject of "The Revitalization of Small Settlements", organized by the Mexican National Committee of ICOMOS and held in Trinidad, Tlaxcala, from 25 to 28 October 1982, wish to express their gratitude to the representatives of Mexico and the organizing committee for the very kind way they have been received and express their satisfaction at the high standard of the proceedings and at the results achieved.

They wish most particularly to thank the government of the state of Tlaxcala for its hospitality and are happy to observe the efforts it is making to preserve the architectural and urban heritage entrusted to its keeping by history, which is of extreme interest to all the peoples of America.

The delegates, after examining the situation now prevailing in America from the point of view of the dangers which threaten the architectural and environmental inheritance of the small settlements, decide to adopt the following conclusions:

1a. They reassert that the small settlements are repositories of ways of living which bear witness to our cultures, retain the scale appropriate to them and at the same time personify the community relations which give inhabitants an identity.

2a. They reaffirm that the conservation and rehabilitation of small settlements is a moral obligation and a responsibility for the government of each state and for the local authorities and that their communities have a right to share in the making of decisions on the conservation of their town or village and to take part directly in the work of carrying them out.

3a. As established by the Charter of Chapultepec, and as reflected in the concern expressed at the Morelia Symposium and at other meetings of American practical conservationists, the environmental and architectural heritage of small settlements is a non-renewable resource and their conservation calls for carefully developed procedures which will ensure that they run no risk of being impaired or distorted for reasons of political expediency.

4a. They agree that initiatives for the purpose of securing the well-being of the communities living in small settlements must have their basis in strict respect for the traditions of the places concerned and their specific ways of life. They also agree that the situation of economic crisis at present affecting the continent must not restrict efforts to preserve the identity of the small settlements; on the contrary, if such difficult circumstances are to be overcome, reliance must be placed in the cultural achievements of the past and in the material forms of expression of our collective memory.

5a. They further observe that the introduction of patterns of consumption and behaviour foreign to our traditions, which make their way in via the multiple communications media, assist the destruction of the cultural heritage by encouraging contempt for our own values, especially in the small settlements; they therefore urge governments, institutes of higher education and public or private bodies interested in the Preservation of the heritage to use the media at their disposal for the countering of the effects of this process.

6a. They reassert the importance of regional planning as a means of combating the process of desertion of the small settlements and progressive overpopulation of medium-sized and large towns - a phenomenon which strikes at the very existence of the said settlements. And they point out that any action designed to preserve the urban setting and the architectural qualities of a place must essentially be a fight for the improvement of its population's socio-economic conditions and of the quality of life in its urban centres. They therefore appeal to governments and to competent bodies to provide a suitably integrated infrastructure together with the practical equipment for the arresting of the depopulation of small settlements.

7a. They consider that if the traditional environment of the rural settlements and small towns is to be preserved, and if there is to be continuity of expression in contemporary vernacular architecture, traditional materials and techniques must remain available, and they propose that, where these cannot be found, substitutes be used which do not involve any marked impairment of the visual effects and which meet the requirements both of the local physical and geographical conditions and of the way of life of the population.


Those attending the Symposium reassert the principles which inspire the work of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, as laid down in miscellaneous international texts, including the recommendations made at the meetings held previously in America, at Quito, Chapultepec and Morelia, concerning the conservation of small settlements, and adopt in their turn the following recommendations for circulation by the ICOMOS Committees in America and by any other specialists and for submission to the authorities, the professional associations, the institutes competent in the field concerned and the universities, schools of architecture and other bodies.

It is recommended:

1. That any initiative with a view to the conservation and revitalization of small settlements must be designed as a part of a programme embracing the historical, anthropological, social and economic aspects of the area and the possibilities for its revitalization, failing which it would be fated to be superficial and ineffectual.

2. That encouragement be given to interdisciplinary participation as an essential prerequisite of any effort in favour of the conservation, restoration and revitalization of small settlements.

3. That the public services administrations concerned with such things as communication, health, education, electrification, etc., should be duly conscious of the fact that their activities undertaken with the best of intentions can on the contrary cause harm to small communities if they are ignorant of, or fail to appreciate, the values of the cultural heritage and the benefits deriving from the conservation of that heritage for the community as a whole.

4. That if better results are to be achieved both in national policies and in specific legislation and in technical progress, the sharing of experience in a variety of areas is essential. Information, whether of an international nature or specifically relating to the American world, is most important. Emphasis is laid once again on the utility of publications designed for the purpose, and it is proposed that American working groups be set up on the various individual subjects involved.

5. That the use of regional materials and the preservation of the local traditional building techniques are essential to satisfactory conservation of small settlements and do not conflict with the general principle that any new work should bear the mark of our age. It is urgent that an effort be made to recognize and enhance the prestige and value inherent in the use of such materials and techniques where they exist, and to keep them alive with increasing forcefulness in the minds of the communities concerned. It is recommended that encouragement be given to proficiency in the skilled building trades in the form of awards and prizes.

6. That the governments of the Latin American countries consider as in the public interest the granting of funds for the acquisition, maintenance, conservation and restoration of dwellings in small settlements and the lesser towns, as a practical means of keeping alive the building heritage and the housing possibilities it affords. For this purpose there must be amendment of the norms governing the allocation of funds to enable buildings for which vernacular techniques and materials have been used to be eligible for mortgage loans.

7. That schools of architecture should institute and maintain M. A. degrees in restoration and doctorates of restoration and assign due importance in their basic training syllabuses to appreciation of the architectural and town-planning heritage, conservation and restoration problems, and knowledge both of vernacular architecture and of traditional building techniques, to enable their graduates to fit usefully in their professional capacity into the communities requiring their services.

8. That the recognized colleges and societies of architects should set up commissions for the preservation of architectural heritage capable of promoting improved awareness of the responsibility devolving on them for the maintenance of the small settlements, of compiling and circulating information on this problem and of recommending programmes and operations to this end.

9. That the representatives of the countries in the region make every effort to have their governments, if they have not yet done so, approve the Protocol to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (16 November 1972), so as to be eligible for the support and technical assistance of the international bodies.

The undersigned certify the authenticity of the present text, to be known as the "Declaration of Tlaxcala", which contains the conclusions and recommendations approved at la Trinidad, on 28 October 1982, by the plenary session of the third Inter-American Symposium on the Conservation of the Building Heritage.

By using this website you agree to the use of cookies to recognize your repeat visits and preferences, the display of videos and the measurement of audiences.No cookies are used to track you for commercial or advertising purposes.

Your browser and online tools allow you to adjust the setting of these cookies. Learn more

I understand

Cookies Policy

ICOMOS informs you that, when browsing the ICOMOS website and all the pages of this domain, cookies are placed on the user's computer, mobile or tablet. No cookies are used to track users for commercial or advertising purposes.

A cookie is a piece of information stored by a website on the user's computer and that the user's browser provides to the website during each user’s visit.

These cookies essentially allow ICOMOS to:

You will find below the list of cookies used by our website and their characteristics:

Cookies created by the use of a third-part service on the website:

For information:

You can set up your browser to alert you of the presence cookies and offer you to accept them or not. You can accept or refuse cookies on a case-by-case basis or refuse them once and for all. However, some features of the ICOM website cannot function properly without cookies activated. 

The setting of cookies is different for each browser and generally described in the help menus. You will find more explanations on how to proceed via the links below.

Firefox   •  



Internet Explorer


Dowload ICOMOS Cookies Policy