50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared Responsibility – Conflict & Reconciliation

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethopia); Amphitheatre of El Jem (Tunesia); Galápagos Islands (Ecuador); Historic Centre of Kraków (Poland); Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela (Ethopia); Amphitheatre of El Jem (Tunesia); Galápagos Islands (Ecuador); Historic Centre of Kraków (Poland); Kathmandu Valley (Nepal)

About the Project

On the 16th of November 2022 the World Heritage convention celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Institute Heritage Studies celebrates the birthday of the convention focusing on the convention itself, its achievements as well as its failures. We will develop a critical outlook on the World Heritage convention based on the important categories “responsibility”, “reconciliation” and “sustainability”.


  • Marie-Theres Albert - 50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared Responsibility - Conflict & Reconciliation, project presentation

Project Website

Find all information about the project, important dates as well as results on our project website: https://50yearsworldheritageconvention.wordpress.com/


Heritage creates identity. This is the message of the critical sociology, mainly of Norbert Elias, one of the most important scientists behind UNESCOs founding ideas. Based on this it is consequent that individuals and societies are responsible for the sustainable safeguarding of their heritage. The choice of the theme “50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared Responsibility - Conflict & Reconciliation” is therefore to reflect on the identity-building function of heritage.

The destruction of heritage is multidimensional. And even though, in the course of time, heritage has continuously been destroyed through war and terrorism, climate change, technological change, modernisation, commodification, international policies and/or urban transformation processes etc, the effects of those processes on the identity of peoples and societies have always been the same. The destruction of heritage is destroying identity.


The project aims to celebrate the World Heritage Convention on its 50th anniversary, on 16 November 2022, in the form of a book, which consists of appreciating the successes and processing the failures of the Convention, based on our shared responsibility. To this end, our project pursues three interrelated goals. First, we want to identify the conflicts that world heritage faces and analyse their causes. Only knowledge about reasons, backgrounds and intentions of heritage destruction processes allows us to define strategies and responsibilities. Second, we want to reflect on short, medium, and long term conflict avoiding and conflict solving strategies. Third, we want to elaborate these strategies in the context of the Agenda 2030.


The outcome of the project is the publication of a book that relates in particular the future of the World Heritage Convention to such important values as "responsibility", "reconciliation" and "sustainability" focussing on mainly 6 conflict areas: Global Governance, Urban Transformation, Technological Change, Climate Change, War and Terrorism and Commodification.

The book is going to be published in the Heritage Studies Series of Springer, an academic publication series co-edited by Marie-Theres Albert and Claire Cave.

Procedure & Timing

The project is organized in three steps:

  1. Think Tanks in which the participants present and discuss their papers related to six conflict areas:
    04 - 11 March 2021
  2. conference in which we will engage the broad public into discussions:
    21 - 22 June 2021
  3. publication of a Book and its presentation at the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention:
    16 November 2022


Institute Heritage Studies (IHS)
Nassauische Str. 5
D – 10717 Berlin

Anca Claudia Prodan (prodan@ina-fu.org)