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The “Outstanding Universal Value” of a World cultural or natural site and the UNESCO quest for common human values and rights should be better connected to present ideas and current concerns, with particular attention to people. The significance of a heritage site is enriched by the diverse memories of the site’s associated communities.
Although a majority of WH sites highlight common achievements, some raise issues of multiple or divergent interpretations. These issues should be openly addressed. This can be at the national level and involve consideration of cultural minorities and/or Indigenous communities associated with the site. But, when it is at the international level, as in the World Heritage Convention, these issues are particularly critical and require tactful treatment.
This Associate Theme will examine ways of peacefully consider such sensitive problems, bridge divides and deepen social cohesion. It will examine how to prevent conflicting presentations of interpretations of a site’s history, not only by acknowledging that multiple memories are associated with the site but also by articulating a methodology for involving diverse stakeholders in the nomination process, the monitoring of sites and capacity building. It will explore how digital technologies make it possible for civil society, the stakeholders associated with the site and Academia can feed pluralistic interpretations, beyond the national presentation by States Parties.
The organizers are keen to engage in dialogue with a variety of stakeholders from different regions, with a focus on good practice in how to prevent or reconcile dissonant memories at both World Heritage sites and at those that are not. Different interpretations could also be presented, on the Site or on websites, allowing the visitor to have a personal opinion. The outcomes of this dialogue will inform the interpretation and presentation as an important dimension of the management of cultural or natural heritage sites.
Jean-Louis Luxen, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, Member of the Board of Trustees.
Deoksoon Kim, Preparatory office for International Centre for the Interpretation and Presentation of World Heritage Sites under the auspices of UNESCO