Lecturer Peter Larsen joined the Vietnamese research team of the SNIS project on World Heritage and rights to co-host the first national workshop on the topic in Vietnam together with the UNESCO Hanoi office and our national partner, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. With approximately 80 participants, the workshop was a landmark event to share preliminary research findings and spearhead new approaches.
Australian Round Table on Rights-Based Approaches to Heritage Management
Melbourne, Wednesday, 7 October 2015
What difference does it make to apply a rights-based approach to heritage management? What are the barriers and enabling factors in implementing a rights-based approach to heritage conservation?
A 1-day round-table was convened in Melbourne to explore these questions with 16 natural and cultural heritage practitioners and researchers from many corners of Australia.
The report of the discussions will contribute to several inter-related international programs:
- ‘Our Common Dignity’ initiative – a joint international program between ICOMOS, IUCN and ICCROM with a focus on rights-based practices in the World Heritage system, funded by the Government of Norway (see: http://www.icomos.no/whrba/).
- ‘Understanding Rights Practices in the World Heritage System: Lessons from the Asia-Pacific’ – applied research and policy development program led by Dr Peter Larsen of the University of Lucerne, and funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) (see: http://www.snis.ch/project_understanding-rights-practices-world-heritage-system-lessons-asia-pacific).
The Round Table was supported by Australia ICOMOS and the Australian Committee for IUCN, and was hosted by Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific.
The Round Table method enabled a useful exploration of the various perspectives in the room and could be a model for further events in Australia and in other countries, since rights framing and pressures need to be understood in national contexts in order to develop international awareness and competence.
Professor Tim Winter, Research Chair of Cultural Heritage, Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation
Laura Kraak, PhD candidate, Deakin University
Kristal Buckley AM, Lecturer in Cultural Heritage, Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific, Deakin University
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The Australian team has been working with traditional owners of Fraser Island World Heritage Area – known as K’Gari to the local Butchulla people – to investigate questions of human rights and World Heritage. Fraser is an interesting case study to examine such matters, because Indigenous interests are taken into account in site management even though the World Heritage listing of the site was based entirely on natural rather than cultural values. The SNIS project is being carried out in association with a larger national project on the costs and benefits of World Heritage to Indigenous people, funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC).
The project began in earnest late in 2014, when Ian Lilley and Celmara Pocock attended the annual joint meeting of the three Fraser Island World Heritage advisory committees, which separately cover Indigenous (IAC), community (CAC) and scientific (SAC) matters. Celmara is a SNIS team member with long experience in heritage management across Australia. The team outlined the SNIS study as part of a larger presentation about the ARC project. Ian and Celmara also interviewed a number of the members of the IAC about human rights as part of a longer questionnaire about Indigenous people and World Heritage.
At this meeting it was announced that the Butchulla community had just won a court determination recognizing their traditional Native Title over Fraser Island. This determination has major implications for their rights over the World Heritage Area and has important implications for the SNIS project. One of these implications is that a new representative body for Native Title holders has been established – the “Prescribed Body Corporate” (PBC). All Native Title determinations entail the formation of a PBC, which represents the interests of Native Title holders in relation to specific Native Title decisions (in this case, the Native Title interests of the Butchulla Traditional Owners of Fraser Island recognized by Australia’s Federal Court).After that initial fieldtrip, Ian and Celmara attended the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, where Ian co-convened a session on Indigenous heritage matters with Tim Badman. The team interviewed a wide range of WPC delegates from Australia and overseas, including Tim and other colleagues from Hawaii, New Zealand and Tanzania. While at the WPC, Ian and Celmara also met with Ben Boer, a distinguished environmental lawyer and Deputy Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law. Ben agreed to join the SNIS team to undertake the legal dimensions of the project in Australia. His work will explore the links between international human rights law and World Heritage law and national law and regulations in Australia. In doing so, Ben will collaborate with other national legal experts to compare legal frameworks and their application and consider how they articulate with international standards.
In July 2015, Ian and Celmara made another trip to the Fraser Island area, together with Helena Kajlich, a new researcher on the wider Indigenous World Heritage project. Helena is a lawyer with an interest in human rights, and will soon start a PhD on questions closely related to the objectives of the SNIS project. While at Fraser, the team interviewed more Traditional Owners and also visited Fraser Island itself (see photographs). As a follow-up, Celmara, Helena and Marc Hockings returned to the Fraser area to attend a meeting of the IAC. Marc is a SNIS team member and also Vice Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. He was the principal author of the IUCN’s best practice guidelines on evaluation of management effectiveness in protected areas.
One major element in the meeting agenda was to discuss the role of the new PBC in the management of the Fraser World Heritage Area. The SNIS team attended so it could observe how these changes might impact on management of the World Heritage area, and to update the IAC on the progress of the research. It was anticipated that there might be the opportunity to make a presentation to a combined PBC and IAC meeting, so there could be complete transparency in our dealings with Butchulla representatives. While there was only one Director of the PBC present, there was extensive discussion about the PBC and how rights of people outside the PBC might continue to be recognized in the management of the World Heritage area. The discussion following the presentation enabled the team to ask more questions, and to interview more Traditional Owners about SNIS after the meeting. They have also arranged to interview key government officials at a later date.
All of the interviews undertaken for the project are being analysed with the aid of NVivo, a text-analysis package that enables researchers to identify and track key patterns in qualitative data. The analysis will allow the team to determine how Traditional Owners and other stakeholders perceive matters such as human rights in relation to World Heritage. On that basis, the results will help the team determine how the effectiveness of management approaches to questions of human rights are best measured and improved.
In parallel to this activity, co-leader of SNIS’s Australian team Kristal Buckley has been organizing a small roundtable of key practitioners/policymakers in Melbourne in October 2015. It will be a facilitated discussion, with an initial framing discussion by Laura Kraak, a PhD student researching rights in heritage practice who has done some work for Amund Sinding Larsen and Peter Larsen in the ICOMOS-IUCN ‘Our Common Dignity’ process. It is hoped that Peter Larsen may be able to attend, along with Marc Hockings from the SNIS/ARC team in Brisbane.
Pranita Shrestha 
Pranita Shrestha is part of the SNIS project research team working on World Heritage and rights (http://projects.snis.ch/rights-world-heritage-system/). She is currently in Australia and returning to Nepal to do fieldwork in July, 2015.
Within a couple of hours only, one could see the fall and rise of a nation struck by a massive earthquake. Loss of lives and the collapse of built form (in particular cultural heritage buildings) were among the grave consequences of this disaster. Yet, humanity and compassion mobilized people to help each other despite the chaos that reigned.
On 25th April, 2015 at approximately 11:58 am local time, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with its epicenter between the capital Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara. Together with a series of aftershocks, this earthquake led to unimaginable devastation and loss of lives. The high magnitude seismic activity destroyed a large number of buildings in the country. People were trapped amidst the rubbles for days without help reaching the affected areas. The scale of the disaster was overwhelming not only for the government in Nepal but also for the international community. The strategic geographic location of this small, landlocked country between two main superpowers of the world, India and China, the presence of Mount Everest and its old cultural heritage immediately caught the attention of the international community. Many countries around the world came in to help in Nepal.
The SNIS and the Department of Anthropology of the University of Lucerne are happy to present this brief introductory video to the research project on understanding rights practices in the World Heritage system: lessons from the Asia Pacific.
It features Nepal project coordinator Dr. Sudarshan Tiwari and includes images of heritage and communities now heavily damaged by the devastating earthquake. Below follows a commentary by project researcher Pranita Shrestha about the recent events. Please share widely to raise awareness about this important topic.
The earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday flattened many of the country’s historic structures and some residential buildings, leaving people without shelter. Ellen Barry reports from Kathamandu in the New York Times.
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