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Dignity of the heritage and the heritage communities

Riin Alatalu (Department of Cultural Heritage and Conservation, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, Estonia)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 11 August 2020

Issue publication date: 14 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reasons why the human rights-based approach should be used in the preservation of cultural heritage.


The article is a combination of an essay and illustrative case studies. The thesis is based on experience in heritage protection on national and international level and the discussions of the “Heritage and Human Rights” training in Estonia 1.-6.05.2019.


Cultural heritage is the common good regardless of its ownership. The protection of something, especially in living environments, includes compromises in the rights of one or another counterpart. Restrictions are often ground for conflicts that can be settled with good communication, but sometimes just communication is not enough. In these cases, human rights-based approaches enable to identify the problems, scale the rights of different stakeholders and thus enable discussion to reach consensus.

Practical implications

The research is useful for heritage conservationists, policy makers and urban planners with regards to management and implementation of human rights-based approach and community involvement in heritage protection on World Heritage, national and local levels.


The research is a part of a series of discussions, trainings and project reports of the Our Common Dignity – Rights Based Approaches (OCD-RBA) working group of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and contributes to the follow-up activities worldwide.



Alatalu, R. (2021), "Dignity of the heritage and the heritage communities", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 146-154.



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