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Controversial at inscription

Author elsslots
#1 | Posted: 23 Dec 2018 02:50 | Edited by: elsslots 
We do have a connection for WHS that were controversial at inscription. I feel the need to sharpen the definition for this one, as a WHC overruling the AB has become so common that it cannot be part of this connection. A few connected sites thus would have to be removed from this connection (Wadi Rum, Um-er Rasas etc).

What should be definitely in there:
- Ballots used (secret and open)
- Opposing groups or states within the WHC
- Controversy & diplomacy leading up to the WH meeting

What could be there:
- AB overruled from Not to inscribe (No OUV or other reasons) to Inscribe (I found 6 of those: Naumburg, Al Ahsa oasis, Chaine des Puys, W Park of Niger, Bethlehem and Weimar(?!))

Any further ideas on this?

Author meltwaterfalls
#2 | Posted: 23 Dec 2018 17:14 
Yeah I think those new tighter criteria seem good, and I think the overruling from not inscribe to inscribe is worth keeping in as there is more to them than just procedural changes.


Will have to try and dig into that one. Is it because of the link to specific people perhaps?

Author elsslots
#3 | Posted: 23 Dec 2018 23:35 
Is it because of the link to specific people perhaps?

Yes, it was about the use of Criterion (vi): Enlightened ducal patronage attracted many of the leading writers and thinkers in Germany, such as Goethe, Schiller, and Herder to Weimar in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, making it the cultural centre of the Europe of the day.

"In its evaluation presented to the meeting of the Bureau in Paris in June 1998, ICOMOS recommended that the
nominated property should not be inscribed on the World Heritage List, because it felt that the case for
inscription depended on the use of criterion vi in isolation"

Author Assif
#4 | Posted: 26 Dec 2018 20:51 
I would find it a good idea to have documentation of both type of cases: controversies within the WHS committee and special controversies between the ABs and the WHS committee, such as inscription after a not inscribe recommendation. Nonetheless, I would probably prefer separate them into two distinct connections. I am not sure how I would name them though.

Author Assif
#5 | Posted: 27 Jan 2019 03:41 
I have just looked at the sites we currently have under this connection.
Looking at the trend is quite striking, though not particularly surprising:
From 22 controversial inscriptions 12 (!) are post 2010 and and 20 are post 1995. This means that between 1978 and 1995, for almost 20 years, only 2 controversial inscriptions were added to the list (Jerusalem and Brasilia). This strong tendency to follow the AB recommendation prevailed in times where ICOMOS often ruled out TWHS for lacking OU, something which is barely ever done nowadays.

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 27 Jan 2019 03:45 
This means that between 1978 and 1995, for almost 20 years, only 2 controversial inscriptions were added to the list

That period was much less transparent than nowadays, that's also a factor. Since a few years the WHC sessions are streamed live and 'all' official documentation is made available.

Author Solivagant
#7 | Posted: 28 Jan 2019 12:51 | Edited by: Solivagant 
That period was much less transparent than nowadays, that's also a factor

A "factor" yes but there has certainly been a "sea change" in the way in which the WHC operates both in relation to the ABs and internally as between its members.
Assif has chosen 1995 as a convenient dividing point which is fair enough. It would certainly be "nice" to be able to see "Disagreement" events by year but that could be difficult?
I have had a look at the very early years up to 1985 and, whilst it is possible that there was great turmoil at the WHCs unbeknown to us I get the impression that we probably do know where the issues were and they tended to be about "suitability of subject" and "international disputes" rather than OUV, comparability, completeness of documentation etc etc ie about matters like Auschwitz and Jerusalem rather than about Khor Dubai and Naumburg

In those days the "Bureau" met before the WHC and went through the list of nominations making its proposals to the WHC. It is very noticeable just how many nominations are completely "rejected" without, apparently, much dissension - the AB evaluations were largely just accepted. Why?
a. I suspect that in those early days the members of the WHC were less "career diplomats" whose job it is to "fight" (diplomatically of course) for their country's benefit and more people genuinely interested in Culture/Nature etc and therefore far more willing to accept the recommendations of the AB.
b. That also reflects the fact that governments hadn't yet cottoned on to how "valuable" an inscription was on a range of factors - economic, national pride, demonstration that the government was actually achieving something etc etc!! Conversely of course the effort/money spent in preparing a nomination was significantly lower than now. No one was in the situation of that spokesman for Nimes which had banked millions of Euro on a development strategy, building iconic musea etc of which a successful inscription was a major plank! No wonder he was angry - "We have spent all that money and now you tell us we aren't going to get inscribed - how dare you!!!"
c. There were also of course fewer countries involved and the composition of the WHC was less determined by region etc so the sort of cabals which can now band together to achieve unjustifiable inscriptions were less likely.
d. Everyone was feeling there way a bit knowing that case law was being established and not quite sure where they were going with the whole thing. I found this report from 1983 ( ) when there were 150 WHS discussing the whole issue of ensuring consistency and dealing with situations they hadn't foreseen. Interesting to note that the mere idea of inscribing an entire "City" seems to have come as a bit of a surprise when the original "idea" had been to inscribe "monuments" and "sites". The concern was more about the nominations which were being rejected than in the ones which were getting through. Also that the idea of having a T List was primarily to help set the "standard" against which to evaluate nomination knowing the range of similar sites which were around - it certainly hasn't turned out that way!!

I look at Hildesheim Cathedral which is mentioned in the report as having possibly been "unfairly treated" in comparison with Speyer - rejected in 1982 by the Bureau and not even considered at the WHC. Not a murmour, as far as we know, from Germany. Compare that with the forces mobilised to get Naumburg cathedral over the line in 2018!!! Mind you - it was presented again in 1985 and I just love the ICOMOS grovelling comment in its evaluation "ICOMOS, which after having, in 1982, voiced serious reservations as to the form of the proposal for the inclusion of Hildesheim on the World Heritage List, expresses its unmitigated agreement with the new nomination"!!!

Author Zoe
#8 | Posted: 28 Jan 2019 14:19 
I just feel a lot of B grade sites are now being considered. Less is more.

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