World Heritage Convention at Fifty Years Old: Shifting to Outstanding Heritage Management Practices | Eugene Jo & Webber Ndoro

World Heritage Convention at Fifty Years Old: Shifting to Outstanding Heritage Management Practices | Eugene Jo & Webber Ndoro

The World Heritage label emanates from the 1972 UNESCO Convention. The Convention is the instrument that is mostly used for celebrating the world’s heritage, of Outstanding Universal Value. To most governments it is seen as an instrument of recognition and an arena for competition among other countries. As an international convention, its most important decision-making body is the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee. The Committee is formulated of twenty-one States Parties elected at the General Assembly, generally serving for a four-year mandate. The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat to the Convention. Experts, particularly the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee, see the Convention as a tool to better practice the conservation and management of heritage, which is clearly the intention of the 1972 Convention. Much of these Advisory Bodies’ discussions can be aligned to what Laurajane Smith has called “the Authorized Heritage Discourse.”1 This is the notion of heritage as a professional (expert) vocabulary, which, by determining the rules of the game, determines what heritage is, what heritage is worth protecting, how it should be protected, and for whom.2

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