ICOMOS-UK’s Conference – Embedding a Rights-Based Approach and Decolonisation into UK World Heritage Sites

March 20, 2023 Published by Alex McCoskrie

Tuesday 25th April 2023, 09:00am – 06:30pm
In person at the University of Greenwich, 10 Stockwell Street London SE10 9B

Demonstrating a participatory approach that identifies a range of stakeholders is now a necessary element for World Heritage site nominations and a Rights-Based Approach (RBA) is encouraged for the management of all existing sites.

This conference is aimed at exploring the features of a RBA and its application within the UK context. This goes beyond nomination and into the day-to-day management of our World Heritage Sites. It will explore the need to reveal the shared histories and heritage of our unique culturally diverse nation. It should also reinforce the longer term sustainability of World Heritage Sites and the communities who inhabit and support them.

An RBA approach asserts the importance of considering a diversity of opinions. A plurality of voices can contribute to a better understanding of World Heritage Sites and heritage in general, making them more accessible and relevant to today’s society. Such an approach can also make a positive contribution to the narrative around the legacies of Decolonisation and heritage diversity.

All World Heritage Sites, and heritage sites more generally, face innumerable challenges. These can only be overcome by empowering communities and other stakeholders to actively engage with processes of interpretation, stewarding and safeguarding of these sites.

A Rights-Based Approach Tool is being developed by ICOMOS which will set out best practice for heritage management. It will provide guidance for practitioners for ensuring that communities and stakeholders are given access to influence all aspects and stages of heritage management. This conference will help UK heritage professionals and communities understand the key concepts of an RBA, and how they might be utilised and embedded in day-to-day operations.

Programme & Confirmed Speakers
Speakers will be in person, with opportunities for informal discussion throughout the day. Tickets include lunch and an evening reception.

Keynote: Professor Dan Hicks, Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at University of Oxford, Curator at Pitt Rivers Museum, and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, speaking on the topic, ‘Decolonisation of World Heritage Sites: Presenting UK’s Colonial legacies in World Heritage Sites

Keynote: Bénédicte Selfslagh, Member, Policy Task Team: Our Common Dignity-Rights Based Approaches, ICOMOS International, speaking on the topic, ‘A Rights Based Approach to ensure inclusion and community involvement in World Heritage Sites Management

Phil Foxwood, World Heritage Lead, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Panel 1: Empowerment of communities: sustaining heritage through community involvement; with speakers:

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland, Heritage Fund

Professor Julia Aglionby, Professor of Practice, University of Cumbria, Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land, Chair of the Uplands Alliance

Caitlin Osborne, Heritage Consultant, TDR Heritage

Panel 2: Decolonising Heritage at local levels: Re-presenting colonial legacies; with speakers:

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Professor Emeritus, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

Judith Alfrey, Head of Regeneration and Conservation, Cadw

National Trust, tbc

Break out/Discussion groups with a plenary on recommendations to take forward will conclude the day. Evening Reception: The conference will close with an evening reception in the historic venue of the World Heritage Site in Greenwich.

Tickets are: £20 Students, £60 Member, £80 Non-Member.

Book your ticket here.