Sunday, April 22, 2012

ICAHM: Sites inscribed on World Heritage List in 'extreme disregard of expert advice'

Source: newswatch.nationalgeographic.com
Archaeologists Blast Hasty World Heritage
Listings By Jonathan Tourtellot
18/04/12

One of the most significant global committees that you never heard of summoned a couple of hundred experts to the island of Menorca, Spain last week. The meeting involved politics, the remnants of great civilizations, human catastrophes, architectural triumphs, religious works of art and architecture, use of tourism, the rise and fall of empires, and did we say politics?
The International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management, or ICAHM, held its first conference on how to manage the world’s myriad archaeological World Heritage sites. [...]
Right at the outset, ICAHM co-president Dr. Willem J.H. Willems of Leiden, Netherlands, put the core issue on the table. “Archaeology is the study of the past,” he said in his April 9 keynote, but “the past doesn’t exist anymore. Heritage is about the use of the past in the present.” And that’s where it gets interesting. And risky.
Too many countries are rushing to use the past—their heritage sites—for present purposes. Willems sharply criticized the way that sites are proposed and awarded World Heritage inscription. According to the World Heritage Convention, an international treaty, sites should be awarded a place on the list based on solid scientific and academic reasoning. Not happening, said Willems. The World Heritage Committee has been approving too many applications based on economic and “radically political” expediency. [...]
“In 44 percent of the cases, the Committee proceeded to inscribe sites on the World Heritage List that in the judgment of the advisory bodies had not met the requirements for inscription.” He called it “extreme disregard of expert advice.” [...]

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