ICOMOS Guidance on Post Trauma Recovery






Paris 2017


  4. 3.1Risk Assessment and Disaster Response Planning
  5. 3.2Communication protocols
  6. 3.3Embedding Cultural Heritage Protection
  7. 3.4Capacity building

Context, Purpose and Scope of Guidance

A Framework for Action


The Identification of Attributes of Outstanding Universal Value

First/ early response

Assessment of impacts

Identifying and assessing options for recovery/ reconstruction

Summary: the Framework for Recovery/Reconstruction


Identification of stakeholders

Clarity of organisational responsibilities

The deployment of expertise and skills

Effective use of resources


Risk Assessment and Disaster Response planning:

Communication protocols

Embedding cultural heritage protection

Capacity building



Reference documents

Glossary of terms        


The context for the issuing of guidance on reconstruction of heritage is set by the scale, persistence and nature of destructive events of recent times. These events, the results of natural processes and human action, have renewed awareness of the vulnerability of cultural endowments from the past - heritage which includes places whose attributes are of outstanding universal value - and of the commitment to the common purpose of preserving and transmitting it to future generations. The scale of natural disasters such as those that have affected Katmandu, Trinidad in Cuba or Ferrara in Italy, and the intentional destruction visited on sites in Syria, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia and Mali among many others, create unprecedented challenges of recovery and restoration.

Protection actions may address partial destruction of properties and the fact that the events may affect areas that extend far beyond the properties protected through their heritage designations. The imperatives of transmission persist in each circumstance and have brought sharply into focus the issue of reconstruction in damaged World Heritage properties in particular, most challengingly where these include coherent areas that support living communities. In this context, the place of reconstruction of heritage within the broader framework of recovery is established through reference to the accumulated experience of action and reflection.

Cultural heritage reconstruction

Within the discourse on heritage protection reconstruction has long been considered in the context of restoration. At the heart of debate and practice has been the concern to prevent loss while avoiding damage and deceit. One can observe that statements of principles for conservation action have developed from reflection on experience. The authors of the Venice Charter of 1964 saw the need for a fresh appraisal of the principles and approaches set out in Athens in 1931. The earlier Charter, concerned over the destruction as well as the decay of monuments, could not have anticipated the scale of destruction and reconstruction occasioned by WWII. Similarly, as recovery took hold, it became necessary to address the impact of redevelopment on historic centres, to establish the essential elements of significance and the ethical basis for intervention. The Charter on urban conservation followed, drafted at Eger, adopted as the Washington Charter of 1987 (Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas) and most recently embodied in the Valetta Principles of 2011[1].

The reflection is ongoing and the world community now faces an equivalent task: how to address the multi-dimensional challenges of today, taking into account the understanding of cultural inheritance across civilisations, embodied in the Nara Document. It is now apparent that recovery from destruction cannot be understood as a single undertaking or programme, but involves processes in which local populations, authorities and international bodies exercise critical roles. Milestones in this process can be seen in the reference documents listed in Annexe 1.

Further reflection and refinement continually introduce additional dimensions. The involvement of inhabitants in ensuring the continuing life of cultural heritage receives cursory acknowledgement in the Athens Charter, is seen as important in the Venice document, and is strongly promoted in the Washington Charter. Understanding the interpenetration of tangible and intangible aspects of inheritance, especially in inhabited cultural environments, underlines the necessity for a new mindset, one that apprehends reconstruction as a process, with high priority placed on capacity building and active engagement of inhabitants.

With respect to World Heritage properties

Within the World Heritage framework, in the spirit of the Convention, reconstruction has always been viewed from the perspective of outstanding universal value (OUV), that is, with a focus on its impact on the attributes that, under the various criteria, were integral to the OUV of the property, and thus the basis for its inscription. Thus for example, reconstruction has been accepted when supportive of OUV where reconstructions on the basis of detailed evidence were seen to give meaning to the designed landscape which revolved around them, or where intensive restoration and reconstruction between the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century were considered as an expression of the search for an idealised image that could build a sense of national identity at that time. Reconstruction has been accepted in relation to sustaining the attributes of OUV, not only in relation to fabric but also to processes, uses and associations, and in properties where the replacement of fabric that takes place on an on-going basis in response to deterioration and decay. In contrast, reconstruction has been rejected when seen as having adverse impact on OUV or potential OUV, or where it involved interventions at archaeological sites that could have irreversible consequences on the informative potential nature of the remains and/or might be speculative in nature.

Taken together over the years, these determinations reflect the understanding that in the context of safeguarding and sustaining OUV, reconstruction can take many forms, which are not mutually exclusive andcan exist in parallel – as a concept it is complex rather than singular and can extend beyond the reconstruction of fabric. From this perspective, reconstruction can be about reinvigorating communities and fostering processes and associations, as well as restoring form, function or physical fabric, depending on the nature of the attributes and their role in conveying OUV. Reconstruction is a process that responds to particular situations and, in the case of World Heritage properties, to the specific attributes that support OUV.

The Guidance document

This document is prepared in response to the concerns expressed by the World Heritage Committee in 2015 on the importance of 'developing a post-conflict strategy, including means to extend support for reconstruction of damaged World Heritage properties through technical assistance, capacity-building, and exchange of best practices'. It addresses in particular the request for guidance on reconstruction expressed in the Committee decision of 2016[2]. It was developed through, inter alia, the deliberations of an international workshop convened in Paris in September 2016[3]. One must note that this guidance is elaborated in circumstances where the full impact of the catastrophic events of recent times has yet to be established and where debate on matters of principle and the relationship between reference documents continues. It is prepared for this moment in time and in response to persistent and urgent requests for guidance. The document brings to bear on the issues of post trauma recovery, experiences of approaches that have been already put into practice and have proved valid or acceptable in different instances. It acknowledges the particular challenges for those places where action is required to give back a living environment to communities and where the scale of the destruction is large and the level of information and documentation on what has been lost may be insufficient or almost non-existent. Reconstruction in the World Heritage context involves a focus on the attributes of OUV. At the same time it is expected that the framework set out in the document may have wider application and assist damaged heritage places in identifying a wide spectrum of possibilities for the future.


Context, Purpose, Scope and Structure of the Guidance

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

1. Context

This Guidance document was prepared in the context of catastrophic events affecting diverse World Heritage properties, many them experiencing new dimensions of intentional destruction. It reflects emerging views on heritage and its importance to the cultural and economic life of people and a growing awareness of cultural heritage as a driver of sustainable development.

While taking account of the wider context of the loss or depletion of heritage, the Guidance is focussed on World Heritage properties that, as a result of traumatic events, have lost the intactness of those attributes that have been recognised as being of outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and where there is a desire to recover what has been lost through some type of reconstruction.

2. Purpose

The Guidance aims to help States Parties and others affected by traumatic heritage destruction to assess damage to the attributes supporting OUV, and to evaluate options for the re-establishment or recovery of attributes. In identifying processes to optimise recovery of attributes, the Guidance notes that widespread destruction does not necessarily mean the loss of OUV of properties inscribed on the World Heritage list.

3. Scope

All heritage assets including World Heritage properties must be understood in their cultural and historical contexts, and in both their tangible and intangible dimensions. While these properties are the primary focus of this Guidance, it is noted that destruction may impact, not only on the inscribed properties themselves, but also on the immediate and wider settings that support the attributes of their OUV.

The document sets out a framework within which sound, informed and participative decision-making can be undertaken in the potential recovery of both tangible and intangible attributes. It reaffirms that heritage is irreplaceable and that the potential for reconstruction cannot justify the destruction of surviving fabric. In setting out a framework it offers a roadmap rather than solutions.

In considering the broad context within which post trauma heritage protection must function, it is apparent that additional institutional arrangements are desirable. Currently, as UNESCO does not have a seat within the UNOCHA Cluster Coordination mechanism for UN and non-UN agencies, cultural heritage is not formally part of the international response to catastrophe. It is recommended that cultural heritage considerations should be integrated into response provisions at national and local levels also. It needs to be given an appropriately high profile by States Parties.

4. Structure

The Guidance text is in three parts: The first is titled POST TRAUMA RECOVERY AND RECONSTRUCTION PROCESS: A Framework for Action. It outlines a process through which recovery and reconstruction may be considered and concludes with a short section summarising an overall Framework. The second and third are Annexes: Annexe 1 contains a selection of key reference documents; Annexe 2 is a Glossary covering a range of terms employed in the Guidance document.


A Framework for Action

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Catastrophes that affect heritage properties vary greatly. Those arising from natural events may be sudden, an evolving consequence of ongoing processes such as climate change, once-off or repeated over time; they may comprise land movement and collapse, inundation, storm damage, flooding and fire. Those occasioned by human action may be deliberate or accidental, the result of conflict or unrestrained resource exploitation. They may be sudden, short, protracted, intermittent, focussed on cultural artefacts or generic.

Catastrophic events are characterised by human tragedy, loss of life, home and community, population displacement. At the same time, the impacts of events triggered through natural causes can differ from those arising from human action: for example, in the case of natural disasters, community and social relationships may prove to be resilient, while in the case of conflict they may be deeply implicated through causality or consequence, and divisions may persist over time.

This framework for action is set out under three principal headings: Factors in Inheritance and Transmission; Organisational Factors and Preparedness. A final section presents the Framework in summary form.


The diverse and complex nature of disasters poses challenges to definitions of phases of recovery and of opportunities within intervention strategies: describing actions under time-sequence headings such as before, during and post-event can be simplistic. For example, interventions can be possible or necessary while events continue, and may require ad hoc response that might not have been envisaged. However, it is useful to outline some broad categories of action: their implementation will depend on individual circumstances, and they may overlap or be repeated as events unfold.

It is recognised that responses is depend on the capacities of States Parties, their institutions and agencies and those of the local population, and as supported by international organisations. The factors involved are outlined in Section 2, Organisational Factors.

From the perspective of cultural heritage, the guiding principle can be set out: the primary factors in the recovery process are the identification of impacts on the inheritance, expressed through the attributes of OUV, the implementation of measures to protect surviving attributes, and the development of recovery and reconstruction programmes directed towards the transmission of attributes to the future.

2.1.1 The Identification of Attributes of OUV.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

In this respect the key element is the description of attributes conveying the Outstanding Universal Value that has supported the inscription on the WH list, encapsulated in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value adopted by the World Heritage Committee either at the time of inscription or retrospectively The quality of the identification and advance recording of these attributes is of fundamental importance: in recording damage and implementing immediate mitigation measures, in assessing impact of events on significance and in identifying options for recovery and supporting actions.

The attributes that convey OUV may not be confined to material elements of fabric or landscape, but may include intangible associations and processes such as socio-economic structures, activities of resident populations and relationships with past times. OUV may be linked to the role of communities within the ongoing dynamism of the place. Reconstruction relates to both tangible and intangible dimensions.

Shortcomings in the identification/definition of attributes may become evident when the process outlined below is considered. One purpose of this Guidance is to enable States Parties to evaluate the quality of the descriptions of attributes from the perspective of their possible depletion or destruction. This matter will be considered further in Section 3, Preparedness.

It is expected that assessment of the impact of destructive events on the attributes of OUV will occur within a range of circumstances and over differing timeframes. In this document, Guidance on actions towards recovery is organised under four headings: First/early response, Assessment of Impacts; Identifying Options and Recovery and Reconstruction; Framework for Action.

2.1.2    First/early Response

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

The initial assessments of impact must be made in the immediate or proximate aftermath of traumatic events. It is recognised that these assessments may be provisional, and be made while the primary focus of States Parties and other agencies is directed towards infrastructural, security and humanitarian response. The following elements are indicated: initial identification and documentation and immediate protection of surviving attributes, elements, artefacts or other heritage assets (Annexe 2).

a. Initial identification and documentation of impacts. The importance of early recording of damage and surviving elements is emphasised. The priority for documentation is established on the basis of the attributes of OUV and how they are manifested. Image capture is a first essential step; other forms of documentation such as audio recording must be utilised as circumstances allow. Comparatively simple technologies/techniques such as recording by mobile phones or tablets, crowd sourcing of images, the use of drones and robots have established their value in disaster settings, as has the use of sonic and thermographic characterisations of damage, internal dispositions and historic layerings.

Measures must be in place to capture and retain such data, as evidence and also for use in assessment of impact on attributes and the identification of further actions towards recovery or reconstruction. Data need to be managed and transmitted in usable forms. Protocols are required for this purpose as multiple agencies are generally involved. It is imperative that the State Parties and responsible agencies can access necessary data (Sections 2.2 and 2.3).

b. Protection. While initial responses are ongoing, every means must be employed to safeguard, stabilise and secure impacted heritage structures, to avoid further damage, depletion and loss. Controlled dismantling may sometimes be necessary either to protect life or to enable later repairs and reconstruction of existing fabric, when devices such as temporary shoring are insufficient. Protection extends to fragments and contents: these must be identified, protected, and if displaced, securely stored for later reinstatement and to prevent looting. For interventions such as temporary shoring, protection and storage, modern materials and techniques may have an essential temporary role.

Existing populations are extremely vulnerable: loss through injury, death and departure will impact on the community’s capacity for recovery. It may also impact on the options for the recovery of attributes. Initial responses must include practical and ongoing supports that can maintain the population in their own habitat as far as possible.

Until such time as an initial assessment of impact can be made, reconstruction beyond emergency provisions should be avoided. Such temporary measures as are necessary should not inhibit the potential for repair or reconstruction options that could recover attributes of OUV.

2.1.3    Assessments of Impacts

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Initial assessments of the impacts on the attributes of OUV must be made on the basis of information gathered through resources that are at hand. This will provide a provisional understanding of the scope of damage and of immediate actions required to mitigate effects and prevent further loss.

The assessment process takes time. While it commences even as events unfold, conclusions may require more specific information and analysis, and additional documentation may be required. It should be noted that assessments of impact must include documentation of the effects of events on social and economic as well as cultural assets. Processes will vary as between uninhabited archaeological sites and those supporting living communities.

Early interventions must not predetermine future choices or outcomes. The desired outcome following the initial assessment of impacts is an accurate appraisal of the status of the attributes, and the identification of options for recovery and reconstruction that are optimal from the perspective of the retention or recovery of OUV (par. 2.1.4).

The primary instrument is an inventory of the heritage elements comprising the attributes of OUV that identifies their status post event: it will set out whether they have survived or not, or suffered damage and in what respect they may have been depleted. This comprises the raw data that is the basis for exploration of options for recovery. It will provide the basis for an accurate assessment of the impact of damage on attributes that convey the OUV of the property. Such assessment is a primary indication of whether these can recovered in the short term or over a longer period, or whether they have been lost or depleted beyond recovery.

States Parties may secure the assistance of ICOMOS or other international heritage agencies in this task.

2.1.4    Identifying and Assessing Options for Recovery and Reconstruction

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

The identification of the attributes of OUV form the basis for identifying and assessing the options for recovery and reconstruction. Optimal documentation and evaluation of surviving attributes, and an overall proportionate assessment of impacts is key to robust identification of options and the basis for any programme of recovery-directed actions. The question of whether and how reconstruction may allow the recovery of attributes arises in this context.

The following paragraphs set out, for illustrative purposes only, some examples of circumstances in which reconstruction options might be explored:

If OUV relates to form, design and function, damaged or depleted attributes may have the capacity to be re-established in some circumstances. In exploring options in this regard, the goal will include the maximum retention of historical material stratigraphy. New structures will not necessarily reflect the historical associations or historical layering that existed prior to destructive events.

If OUV relates to the coherence of an ensemble, and where limited elements have been affected, it may be appropriate to re-establish the integrity of the ensemble, including the use of new compatible materials to do so.

If OUV relates to the dynamism of a living city that reflects centuries of urban societies and their formal and informal structures, then the attributes of that urban form might be re-established to re-house the inhabitants, maintaining the authenticity of the place. The impact of long-term displacement of populations is a major consideration in this regard.

If OUV relates to cultural practices of renewal or reconstruction or to the use of fugitive materials, attributes may be re-established in certain circumstances. These include the availability of materials, the persistence of knowledge and skills, and where the traditional social protocols related to the phases and rituals of construction remain an integral element of society.

The conditions outlined above relate to inhabited sites. In the case of uninhabited archaeological sites, any consideration of intervention must prioritise the authenticity of surviving and persisting attributes. Restoration to the pre-trauma state may not be feasible in many cases. At the same time, additional attributes supportive of OUV may come to the foreground and generate options for the maintenance of OUV.

The inventory must be followed by a Statement that presents the damage suffered and appraises it in terms of the potential for recovery of the attributes of OUV. This will lead to the identification and assessment of possible options for recovery.

The Assessment of Options for Recovery will outline the range of potential options, based on the appraisal of the effects of damage. It will identify the purposes, motivation, justification and expected outcomes of each option. In the case of each option, it will describe the intervention envisaged, identifying what reconstruction actions are proposed, who is to execute them and for whom. It will incorporate a Heritage Impact Assessment of each option that sets out which attributes will be recovered and the effects on any surviving attributes. The Assessment will conclude with identification of a preferred option based on an evaluation of these factors.

The Statement of impacts, Assessment of Options and the conclusion will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by ICOMOS and where appropriate for consideration by the World Heritage Committee.

It is integral to this process that the priorities clearly respect tangible and intangible attributes, and that these priorities are explicitly established in relation to the expectations of stakeholders with regard to the purpose and timeframes of reconstruction. The sustainability of interventions and the re-establishment of local capacities and community cohesion need to be explicitly addressed as well as the benefits to be derived through the recovery process.

2.1.5    Developing an Action Plan for the maintenance and recovery of OUV

Once the recovery option has been agreed in principle, it can become the basis for a specific programme of actions directed towards maintenance and recovery. A specific Action Plan, incorporating detailed project plans together with implementation measures will be drawn up in consultation with Advisory Bodies.

Implementation actions should be reported at agreed stages in the process.


Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Any programme for exploring the potential for recovery of attributes of OUV should not be considered in isolation from the wider post-trauma social, economic and environmental recovery. It is essential that the recovery of cultural heritage attributes is an integral part of the recovery process as a whole, as in many properties the attributes of OUV are indissolubly linked to social and cultural associations and practices.

It is also desirable that the recovery of cultural heritage attributes should wherever possible support sustainable development and wider environmental considerations.

This interlinkage between the recovery of attributes of OUV and the wider recovery process should if possible be effective during ongoing events or conflict situations, in emergency response as well as in post trauma interventions.

In general terms, effective integration between considerations of the recovery of attributes of OUV and the wider recovery process will be characterised by key operational factors: identification of stakeholders, clarity of operational responsibilities with clear mechanisms for communication and collaboration; appropriate deployment of expertise and skills; and the optimal use of resources.

The interplay of these factors will vary from case to case and as circumstances dictate. It should be noted that there are implications also in terms of preparedness. These are outlined in Section 3 Preparedness, below.

2.2.1    Identification of Stakeholders

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

It is essential that the full range of relevant stakeholders is identified and the place of each in the response and post trauma recovery process for a World Heritage property is established. Effective response depends on inclusivity. In the event of disaster, working relationships and communication networks need to function effectively where normal communications may be compromised. At a minimum, the actors will include the responsible sections within States Parties’ governmental structures, the emergency services and other agencies, cultural institutions, local communities and key individuals. The potential role of displaced communities should be recognised.

This factor applies at local and national levels and will include essential international liaison.

2.2.2    Clarity of operational responsibilities

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

It is recognised that among stakeholders, the understanding of impacts and the expectations for recovery will vary widely. Structures must be in place to ensure that perspectives and values are understood, and their relevance to the maintenance or restoration of attributes articulated and given appropriate expression in the recovery process. Roles must be defined and understood. This requires the establishment of clear lines of responsibility and mechanisms for communication and collaboration. It is essential that decisions are taken at appropriate levels and that decision-making procedures prioritise inclusiveness.

Protocols for the sharing of data must be established. The guiding principle here is that all data on the attributes of WH properties must be accessible by States Parties. Assistance is available from ICOMOS in drafting protocols and essential reporting frameworks.

2.2.3    The deployment of expertise and skills

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Effective response is essentially inter-disciplinary. This puts a high priority on clarity of relationships but also on the availability of expert knowledge and skill, from specialist individuals, institutions and the local community. The conscription of local knowledge, skills, and capacities is critical, and the engagement of local stakeholders in goal setting and programme development is crucial. Effective response requires active knowledge-sharing, organisational flexibility and the ability to respond to changing situations.

The experience and expertise of outside institutions and agencies makes an essential contribution to informed decision-making. Together with the contribution of the international heritage community and its institutions it comprises a potent resource. Its deployment as part of the necessary knowledge and competency networks is a significant asset.

2.2.4    Effective use of resources

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Resources comprise financial allocations, availability of expertise and equipment, and community knowledge and skills. Adequate provision must be made within the resources assigned to disaster response to address heritage impacts, and specifically those that affect WH properties. Such provision should address the range of situations encountered, as described above.

In the first instance, provision for emergency interventions to protect the attributes of WH properties must be made within emergency funding allocations, and clear arrangements must be in place so that they can be brought into play when response mechanisms are triggered. This provision would address documentation, stabilisation, rescue, salvage, storage and safe-keeping.

As official responses gain momentum and recovery and reconstruction get under way, it is important to ensure that local capacities continue to be deployed and are not sidelined. Disasters are also sources of opportunity, and the capacities of private interests are a potential resource to be utilised. . However, harnessing the capacities of large companies in the interests of rapid reconstruction carries the risk of substituting imported labour and modern technologies for indigenous resources and traditional methods, possibly further depleting the attributes of OUV or the potential for their recovery.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

In the light of changing global circumstances it must be taken that all WH properties entail some additional element of risk, making the documentation of attributes of such properties even more important. States Parties should review their current documentation from the perspective of its comprehensiveness (anticipating possible damage or loss), and existing provisions for storage and retrieval in emergency situations and in the longer term. Particular attention should be paid to requirements for updating systems.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Given the changing nature of the threats to WH, each State Party should ensure that the risks to properties under their care have been adequately identified, and that risk assessments are routinely updated. Risk assessment applies to both tangible and intangible attributes.

A Disaster Response Plan appropriate to the identified risks to individual properties should be prepared by States Parties and submitted to the WH Committee as an amendment to the Management Plan for those properties. Ongoing review and revision of Management Plans must take explicit account of identified risks, and where Management Plans are deficient in their descriptions of attributes and their exposure to risk, they should be updated as a matter of urgency.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

It is necessary to make explicit provision for information-sharing between bodies, agencies and key individuals, both within the jurisdiction, regionally and internationally. Information capture and storage provisions should be reviewed to ensure access where and when necessary. The resources of the Advisory bodies are available to assist in developing effective national and international communication networks.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Provision for protection must be embedded in wider response processes. This applies in the first place to enhancing the knowledge and skill of operatives through targeted heritage training programmes, but applies across the spectrum of human resources.

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

The acknowledged importance of heritage to community identity must be expressed in the active engagement of communities in the care of inheritance. Initiatives to increase knowledge among the population, and the conscious deployment of local resources in ongoing administration and custodianship, will increase possibilities of recovering both tangible and intangible attributes in the aftermath of disaster.


Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Taken together, the considerations outlined above comprise the main elements of a Framework within which recovery of attributes supporting the OUV of World Heritage properties damaged or depleted through catastrophe may be envisaged. Within this process proposals can be considered by the Advisory bodies and the World Heritage Committee at appropriate times. The functional requirement is an Action Plan for post trauma recovery with provisions addressed to the issues outlined above, appropriate to the circumstances of each property, and approved by the World Heritage Committee.

The Framework for post trauma recovery and reconstruction is comprised of the following elements:

a.         The definition of attributes supporting OUV at the time of inscription or as subsequently established, material and immaterial; such elaborations in definition as may be required;

b.         Documentation of the surviving attributes of OUV, establishing their post trauma status;

c          Assessment of impacts of events on the attributes of OUV; this will incorporate the input of the range of affected stakeholders, local, national and international;

d.         Development of a Statement of Impacts and Identification of Options for recovery of attributes accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment of recovery and/or reconstruction actions for each option; this will conclude with the identification of the preferred option;

e.         The preferred option for recovery will be submitted for approval in principle by the World Heritage Committee;

f.          Development of an Action Plan for the recovery of material and immaterial attributes. This Plan will define the objectives of recovery and reconstruction. It will include Method Statements specifying the approach to be taken to re-establishing attributes. In the case of material assets and attributes it will indicate techniques and technologies and implementation provisions. In the case of immaterial attributes it will specify what provisions are in place to monitor developments and to foster community cohesion and sustainability. It will identify implementation measures. The Plan will be prepared in consultation with the Advisory bodies.

g.         Amendments to the Management Plan to reflect changes to attributes as appropriate


Reference documents                                                                         

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

UNESCO: Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict, adopted at the Hague (Netherlands) and First Protocol, 1954

UNESCO: The Hague Convention, Second Protocol 1999

UNESCO: Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972;

UNESCO: Recommendations concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas (Warsaw/Nairobi, 1976);

UNESCO: Convention on the Protection of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003;

UNESCO: Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention 2008

UNESCO: World Heritage Committee. Istanbul Declaration on the Protection of World Heritage 2016

The Athens Charter for the Restoration of Historic Monuments 1931

ICOMOS: The Venice Charter: International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites 1964

ICOMOS:Washington Charter for the Protection of Historic Towns and Urban Areas 1987

ICOMOS: Nara Document on Authenticity 1994

ICOMOS: The Declaration of San Antonio 1996

ICOMOS: The Valletta Principles for the Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas 2011

UN Rio Declaration 1992

UN General Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements 1995


Glossary of terms                                                                               

Draft text, for comment/observations, etc

Reconstruction in relation to Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)

Reconstruction is a term applied o both material objects and to social structures. With regard to the former, while not being exhaustive, the following list indicates frequently encountered types of reconstruction. These categories are not mutually exclusive.

Reconstruction as before: The word ‘reconstruction’ within the heritage discourse often implies ‘identical’ reconstruction (or reconstruction à l’identique), that is, the re-building to a state as near as possible to the original. This is rarely achieved in practice, as the relationship with the original craftspeople has been lost, the authenticity of the original materials and their historic value cannot be re-gained, and evidence is incomplete. It may not be the appropriate way to recover the attributes of OUV in post-trauma situations.

Modified Reconstruction: Sometimes form may be the main consideration for reconstruction, and its reinstatement undertaken to complete an ensemble that is a key attribute of OUV. In other cases the authenticity of material and craftsmanship or of revived processes may be at least as important. Structures and forms may need to be modified to reflect new needs and /or to eliminate previous interventions carried out with inadequate levels of technical or design quality and now considered undesirable.

Partial reconstruction: Destruction is often partial; therefore reconstruction needs to engage in dialogue with surviving fabric, posing technical and methodological challenges. It also calls for defining priorities with regard to retention and emergency preservation of what has survived and the appropriateness of utilising fragmentary surviving materials.

Reconstruction as a recurring process: In some properties, systematic phases of rebuilding occur, where collective memory and communities of craftspeople have allowed monuments to be renewed. The specific conditions for this approach need to be clearly articulated, in particular the sustainability of craft communities. Similarly, where building materials are perishable, replacement of individual components or even whole buildings can occur, regardless of sudden destruction. Such renewal may be part of the OUV of the properties but relies on sustaining traditional crafts and techniques. This may also apply to some degree to wooden or stone monuments where damaged elements undergo periodic replacement.

Reconstruction of newly revealed underlying historic layers: Destruction may reveal earlier known or unknown layers of fabric, and reconstruction is seen as an opportunity to reconsider the earlier configuration of a building or of an urban area taking into consideration what has been revealed. The relationship of what is proposed in relation to what has been destroyed or damaged needs to be justified in relation to OUV.

Reconstruction as an opportunity to improve building or urban conditions: Destruction impacting on urban fabric may offer the opportunity to remediate problematic situations, improve living conditions, or improve the setting of what has survived. Articulating an approach for rebuilding urban areas needs to relate to OUV.

Heritage elements: These are understood as the inherited endowment of buildings, objects, items, features and aspects of environment, established custom, ritual and practices that comprise contemporary patrimony.

Attributes of Outstanding Universal Value:

Definition as per the manual for preparing nominations:

Attributes are aspects of a property which are associated with or express the Outstanding Universal Value. Attributes can be tangible or intangible. The Operational Guidelines indicate a range of types of attribute which might convey Outstanding Universal Value, including: • form and design; • materials and substance; • use and function; • traditions, techniques and management systems; • location and setting; • language, and other forms of intangible heritage; and • spirit and feeling (Paragraph 82). This list is for guidance. It is essential that the attributes identified for a property should flow from the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and the justification for the criteria. Attributes must be identified as they are vital to understanding authenticity and integrity, and are the focus of protection, conservation and management.


[1]The Valletta Principles for the Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas. Adopted by the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly on 28 November 2011

[2]Decision 40 COM7 (Bonn, Germany 2016): more in-depth reflection is needed on reconstruction within World Heritage properties as a complex multi-disciplinary process, and that consideration should be given to developing new guidance to reflect the multi-faceted challenges that reconstruction brings, its social and economic context, the short and long-term needs of properties, and the idea of reconstruction as a process that should be undertaken within the framework of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the properties.

[3]The workshop was sponsored by Kyushi University, Japan, organised and hosted by ICOMOS.

Additional information