The fourth ICCROM-CHA Annual Forum was concluded on 9 December 2016 at Tsinghua University in Beijing. The Annual Forum has been organized since 2013, with the collaboration and financial support of the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) of Korea. The objectives of the Annual Forum are to explore, research, and debate key themes emerging from the Asian region that have implications for effective conservation and management of heritage.  These debates should result in formulation of policy guidance notes and/or principles related to the above themes, for improved and effective conservation and management of heritage. The Forum is also expected to contribute to capacity-building efforts in the region.

Since 2013, the following themes have been discussed as part of the Annual Forum:

  • 2013: Asian Buddhist Heritage: Conserving the Sacred, held in Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2014: Authenticity in the Asian Context, held in Sri Lanka
  • 2015: Applicability and Adaptability of Traditional Knowledge Systems in Conservation and Management of Heritage in Asia, held in Thailand

The theme selected for the fourth Forum just concluded was the National Conservation Policy. National Conservation Policies vary from country to country, are guided by heritage legislation, and are generally implemented by national heritage agencies.  Most of these policies are guided by the principles propagated within the modern conservation discourse, and the legislation has developed either under the influence of colonial administrations or of those developed in the western world.

Some countries can claim the development of their own conservation principles and practices either as continuation of traditional practices or in response to contemporary needs. They also exist in diverse forms: Manuals, Standing Orders, Institutional guidance documents, Estimates and specifications, Practices, Standard Procedures and other such examples. Some of the policies have a long history in the region: the Marshal Conservation manual, written in 1924, is still being used in countries in South Asia. Furthermore, professional groups have also started writing their own charters:  some of these include the Burra Charter, NZ Charter, China principles, Hoi An protocols, INTACH Charter, Indonesian charter, and so on. Their contents and level of influence on national policies vary from country to country as well.

The objective of the fourth Annual Forum was to explore different types of national conservation policies, including the legislation that guides them in the Asian region, with a view to comparing and contrasts them and identifying gaps that may be addressed in the future.

Twenty-seven professionals from 15 countries in the region presented papers at the Annual Forum held from 6-7 December at Tsinghua University.  The papers reflected the historical overview of their respective countries and the current status related to conservation policies. Except for one or two countries, there were no specific texts outlining conservation policies. However, all countries had legislation which guides the conservation policies, principles and practices which were presented and discussed.

Presentations were also made on the role of national, regional and international heritage agencies and on how they do or do not contribute to shaping national policies. Agencies represented were ICCROM, ICOMOS, WHITRAP, ACCU Nara, SPAFA and INTACH.

The participants were also had the opportunity to visit the Palace Museum and the Great Wall.

The Annual Forum concluded with a public session, including welcome remarks by the Vice Chairman of the Tsinghua University Council and three keynote presentations:

  1. The legislation and legal systems of Chinese heritage conservation, by Mr Liu Shuguang, Vice Director of SACH
  2. From arts of buildings, urban and rural landscapes to the current project “Japan Heritage” by Prof Nobuko Inaba
  3. Sustainable Development paradigm in heritage management by Gamini Wijesuriya

Closing remarks were made by Mr Mun Gyeonggyu of CHA Korea, Mr Liu Shuguang of SACH, Mr Du Yue of the UNESCO National Commission of China and Mr Joseph King of ICCROM.

The Forum was sponsored by the Tsinghua University, led by Prof. Lu Zhou, who was a recipient of the 2013 ICCROM Award. ICCROM Alumni from his University made special presentations on their work to the participants. SACH extended its fullest support to make the Annual Forum a success, making presentations at the opening and closing ceremonies in addition to a keynote address at the public session.

Member States represented:

Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam