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World Heritage Protection and the Human Right to Development: Reconciling Competing or Complimentary Narratives Using a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA)?

Author(s): Josephine Gillespie

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 5;
Issue: 7;
Start page: 3159;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: heritage protection | human rights | Angkor | world heritage | right to development | human rights based approach (HRBA)

In the pursuit of the protection of places worthy of World Heritage designation, controls are placed on human activities. Regulations are put in place to curb the extent to which these places of heritage significance might be compromised by inappropriate human uses. For the most part, this conservation exercise takes the form of a regulatory regime that, in reality, imposes localized restrictions on how people interact with the protected site. Such restrictions can come at considerable expense to pre-existing users, and arguably, in some instances, these restrictions may also act to simultaneously restrict “rights”. These rights arise by virtue of a raft of international and regional commitments to human rights that, in essence, aim to preserve human dignity for all. This paper explores the nexus between conservation and development through a “rights” paradigm. Arguably, it is untenable to sustain a situation in which heritage trumps user-rights without due regard for some of the rights articulated within the human rights narrative. Heritage protection must be seen as a question of balance wherein conservation, development and rights are reconciled. It is argued that the adoption of a human rights-based approach (HRBA) to conservation may aid in the reconciliation of these goals.
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