Approaches and instruments
Pre-conflict commitments and plans
Pre-conflict commitments arising from international conventions on urban cultural heritage, especially the UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972, provide a strong reference for formulating a vision and objectives for reconstruction, with a clear obligation to recover or restore destroyed or damaged cultural heritage.
This holds particularly true for World Heritage Sites, which impose major obligations on both state parties and the relevant local stakeholders.
Such commitments and obligations can also be adopted, of course, for historic cities that do not enjoy special protection status.
Development plans, strategies and guidelines formulated for the rehabilitation and protection of historic city centres before the outbreak of a conflict can provide a good starting point for planning urban reconstruction and recovery. Such plans and documents will usually be available for protected World Heritage Sites and often for other historic cities as well.
Among the main references available when defining the objectives of reconstruction are:
- previously established management plans complying with the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, and
- state party reports on the state of conservation of sites that are especially important for urban heritage and included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Developing and comparing scenarios and alternative options can prove useful when seeking to initiate an open discussion and public discourse on the vision and objectives for reconstruction. This approach can help to mobilise the support of the general public and civil society for protecting and recovering the urban heritage.
Scenarios can also provide orientation for decision making, both short-term and long-term, and for prioritising action and the allocation of resources.
Public debate and discourse
Public debate is another pathway to reaching a consensus on the vision and objectives for recovering and restoring urban heritage and developing a common understanding of the reconstruction targets and methods.
A key challenge is to build trust and bring together the potentially diverging interests of stakeholders and actors in a post-conflict setting, where fighting may have ceased but the root causes of the conflict have not yet been addressed.
The media can facilitate and encourage public debate and discourse by fostering dialogue and communication between individuals and communities, and across generations and interest groups. Both conventional and modern media channels, in particular social media, can raise awareness and encourage active participation in bringing about a common vision for reconstruction and social reconciliation.
Public debate and discourse can take place in town hall meetings and similar forums, such as planning workshops, cultural events or conferences on specific professional or technical aspects.
Public debate and discourse can take place in form of townhall meetings or similar formats such as planning workshops, cultural events or conferences on specific professional or technical aspects.