The Implementation of the 1972 UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage


Dates:15-16 January 2015
Lloc:University of Kent, Canterbury
Inscripció: 25£150 (veure web)


Since the end of the nineteenth century, there has been an increased awareness of the need to protect cultural heritage sites (e.g. monuments, old buildings, ancient remains…) against wilful destruction, war and other man-made threats such as pressure to build modern infrastructure, urban development, unsustainable tourism, poor management or inadequate administrative/legislative provisions.

The 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted with that purpose in mind. It encourages States to protect their cultural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value with the dual aim to care for the past of humankind and improve the wellbeing of local communities. Today, it has been ratified by 190 countries and the World Heritage Committee has listed 981 sites, the great majority (759) are cultural sites.

This project aims to assess the Convention’s implementation in ten different countries (Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Spain, the UK and the USA) and its effectiveness in protecting Cultural World Heritage Sites at a national level. It evaluates the efficiency of national laws in the protection of those Sites through a critical comparison of ten legal systems and two questions that cross disciplines and allow for a detailed and sustained engagement with a historical and cultural perspective.  Firstly, it provides an analysis of the legal discourse of the Convention at both international and national level in order to understand the difficulty of developing a coherent definition of sites of Outstanding Universal Value. Secondly, it offers a critical evaluation of national legal instruments and policies that protect those sites in order to shape perspectives for their future management and to enhance their stewardship through long term strategic planning. This is achieved through an assessment of the indeterminate criteria of ‘appropriateness’ found in Art. 5 of the Convention; an evaluation of national legal, administrative and financial measures necessary for the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of those Sites; it looks at the different regimes of ownership and finally it examines the level of integrated management policy between the different level of authorities (local, regional, national, international).

The findings from this project will enhance the stewardship of World Heritage Sites for the benefit of future generations and local communities by providing a clear understanding of the values behind cultural heritage laws and by developing long term legal/policy strategic planning for local authorities, governments and international agencies whether public, private or voluntary which in England includes local authorities, Department of Culture Media and Sport, English Heritage/the National Heritage Protection Service, National Trust.