CONF: « The Best in Heritage », Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Global Heritage Forum
28. September 2007
Key Topic: Reclaiming Cultural Property
Hosted by ICOM Europe
THE BEST IN HERITAGE, Dubrovnik (Croatia), 27-29 September 2007

Summary
Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a world heritage site and is the venue for the annual conference “The Best in Heritage“, taking place this year from September 27 – 29, 2007. In the framework of this conference, the„Dubrovnik Global Heritage Forum“ will be – for the first time – asummit of the world’s leading Heritage Organizations. The event ishosted by ICOM-Europe on September 28, 2007. Key topic of the followingpanel discussion will be “Reclaiming Cultural Property”. Forinformation and registration please contact: http://www.thebestinheritage.com.

1. The Initiative
Issuesconcerning cultural heritage and the preservation of cultural propertyare slowly gaining more attention and recognition throughout the world.There is, though, a serious lack of knowledge and understanding aboutthe important role, that international heritage organizations play inthis field. Unfortunately the activities of these organizations areseldomly coordinated, due to an unsufficient transfer of informationand little mutual consultation. Therefore the European HeritageOrganisation, based in Zagreb, Croatia, proposes an annual meeting ofhigh representatives of heritage organizations to take place as theGlobal Heritage Forum in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Such a meeting would beunique in the world and enable participants to discuss all mattersconcerning global strategies for the preservation, care andcommunication of cultural heritage.

2. The Event
Asan ideal setting for the Dubrovnik Global Heritage Forum, the EuropeanHeritage Association suggests to integrate it into its annualconference “The Best in Heritage”
(27. – 29. September 2007) that has been taking place in Dubrovnik for five years now.
(see: http://www.thebestinheritage.com ) The conference has become a remarkableevent of inspiration and encounter, each time gathering about 20museum, heritage or conservation projects from all over the world, thathave received, in the preceding year, national or international prizefor their outstanding achievements. The presentations of these projectsare attracting more and more visitors each year (135 in 2006, from 25countries). A documentation of “The Best in Heritage” is being providedin conference publication, on its website and an excellent interactiveDVD with 20 hours of programme. The web site has become a unique searchengine for the best practices and quality in heritage domain.

TheDubrovnik Global Heritage Forum will take place on the second day ofthe conference “The Best in Heritage” and consists of two major events:1. A consultative meeting of high representatives of the world’sheritage organizations 2. A forum discussion with representatives ofthe heritage organizations and experts focussing on a key issue.

3. The key issue
The key issue of the 2007 Dubrovnik Global Forum will be “Reclaiming Cultural Property”.
Withthe ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection ofCultural Diversity in more and more countries throughout the world theawareness for the preservation of sites of cultural heritage andcollections has increased. When it comes to questions of restitution,though, the debate often turns very emotional, lacks professionalinsight and ethical standards. ICOM’s focus on mediation and theenhancement of dialogue with museums in countries or areas, that havelost a significant part of their heritage, is promising. The return ofthe Aksum obelisk to Ethiopia by the Italian government was a symbol ofhope. Having in mind the looting of the National Museum in Baghdad orthe Museum of Macedonia in Skopje we should realize, though, that thisis happening today, not in colonial times. Therefore the theme“Reclaiming Cultural Property” will gather representatives of heritageorganizations and experts to discuss in which way illicit traffic ofcultural property can be prevented and how a new understanding ofuniversal cultural heritage may reshape the approach to questions ofexclusive ownership.

4. The partners
TheEuropean Heritage Association has acclaimed patronage and support for“The Best in Heritage” event by ICOM, UNESCO (Venice office), EuropaNostra, ICOMOS, ICCROM and the City of Dubrovnik, a world heritagesite. With the Dubrovnik Global Heritage Forum it wishes to extend itspartnerships in order to make it a regular summit of internationalimportance. ICOM supports this innitiative, whereas ICOM-Europe hasagreed to be the host of this event. Therefore the European HeritageAssociation and ICOM-Europe jointly offer heritage organisationsworldwide a platform, on which they can discuss and raise issues ofglobal concern. And as you know: Heritage counts.

Prof. Tomislav Sola
Director
European Heritage Association
director@thebestinheritage.com


Udo Goesswald
Chair
ICOM-Europe
c/o Museum Neukölln
Ganghoferstraße 3
12040 Berlin
Germany

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