Friday, 21 February 2014

Who is in charge? Who should be in charge? The management of World Heritage Sites

The BBC reported this week that conservationists in Pakistan have appealed to UNESCO to relocate a cultural festival scheduled to be held at the World Heritage Site Mohenjo Daro in the Sindh province. It is the world's oldest city and one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilizations. The festival is the brainchild of the young leader of the Pakistan People's Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

"The ruins, discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Sir John Marshall, are 425km (265 miles) north of the port city of Karachi. They are one of Pakistan's six Unesco World Heritage sites deemed places of special cultural significance. But many of the country's historical sites are crumbling through neglect, endangered by vandalism and urban encroachment, as well as a booming trade in illegally excavated treasures."
So who is in charge? Perhaps the more important question is, who should be in charge?
Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites published 'Management Plans for Archaeological Sites: A World Heritage Template' in a 2010 issue of the journal. The article aims to make the general recommendations of a failed attempt to produce a Management Manual for World Heritage Archaeological Sites and Monuments, which brought together a body of experts in 2002 at Ma'agan in Israel, more widely known among those concerned with the management of archaeological sites.

The paper summarizes the outcomes of the meeting, including ideas on the structure of a management plan, the planning process, team building and public participation, site significance, conservation, monitoring, maintenance, presentation and interpretation, tourism and action plans.

"The properties on the World Heritage List are by definition very diverse in size and nature. The cultural sites and monuments range over time from fossil hominid sites (the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian and the Java Man site at Sangiran) to the architecture of the twentieth century (the Bauhaus and its sites in Weimar and Dessau and the works of Gaudí in Barcelona). They are located in countries with widely differing histories, traditions, and present-day legislative and administrative structures. As a result, the information given in these Operational Guidelines is of necessity generalized."

So when a nation's political agenda is in direct conflict with its responsibility to preserve World Heritage Sites for future generations, who decides the winner? Unfortunately that question appears to remain unanswered.

Read the full article for free >

Read the BBC article "Pakistan's Mohenjo Daro ruins 'threatened by festival" >

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