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International Expert Workshop on the World Heritage Convention and Indigenous Peoples

Stefan Disko and Helen Tugendhat
In 2012 UNESCO and the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention celebrated the Convention’s 40th anniversary through a series of activities, events and thematic workshops around the world, the outcomes of which are meant to “feed the reflection on the future of the Convention”.

The theme of the anniversary was “World Heritage and Sustainable Development: the Role of Local Communities”, and it was intended to provide a framework for focusing on “issues pertaining to the well-being and responsibilities of local communities”.

In September 2012, the Danish Agency for Culture, the Greenland government and IWGIA together hosted an International Expert Workshop on the World Heritage Convention and Indigenous Peoples as part of the Convention’s 40th Anniversary.

The workshop involved indigenous experts and representatives from around the world (including from several World Heritage areas), human rights experts and actors in the World Heritage system, and resulted in a call to Action target containing recommendations to the WHC, UNESCO and states on how to align the implementation of the World Heritage Convention with the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Workshop participants also produced proposed amendments to the Convention’s Operational Guidelines aimed at ensuring respect for indigenous peoples’ right to FPIC in the context of World Heritage designations.

This report presents the practices and challenges related to implementing a human rights policy framework for the world heritage convention based on 15 cases from around the world where world heritage sites coincides with traditional indigenous territories.