UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Ethics and
Practice in Cultural Heritage

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UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage


This case study is part of the 2020 Nation Value of UNESCO to the UK Report.

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Held by Professor Robin Coningham at the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage at Durham University, the Chair seeks to build and strengthen the ethical and balanced promotion of heritage to enhance the sustainable development of regions, especially those with religious and pilgrimage sites.

From developing new guidelines and opportunities for postgraduate education to training and connecting heritage professionals and managers in South Asia and the UK, and devising benchmarks for measuring the impact of cultural heritage on societies and economies – the Chair’s activities are diverse. Visiting professorships, supervision, on-site training, workshops and educational material are some examples of how Coningham and his team help to promote interdisciplinary north-south-south exchanges, advance ethical heritage development, and tackle gender inequality in this area.

The Chair also organises a variety of workshops, exhibitions and conferences where the team shares its research, brings together experts, and raises awareness of the challenges faced by South Asian sites and of the social and ethical benefits of heritage on local communities.

One of the Chair’s research projects included post-disaster rescue archaeology in the Kathmandu Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site following two major earthquakes in Nepal in 2015. This natural disaster was a human and cultural catastrophe, costing the lives and livelihoods of numerous people and damaging and destroying substantial parts of the region’s unique cultural heritage so crucial to the region’s economy and social well-being. The project received substantial funding from UNESCO, the National Geographic Society, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Global Challenges Research Fund.

The Chair was crucial in bringing together archaeologists and architectural experts from the Department of Archaeology (Government of Nepal), Durham University and other research institutions and partners to ensure the ethical and balanced reconstruction and sustainable development of the heritage and region through extensive consultation, reconstruction and conservation work.

This case study was a part of the 2020 National Value of UNESCO to the UK Report 

ISSN 2050-8212 (Print)

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The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme

The National Value Report seeks to capture the economic and wider intangible value of the UK network of UNESCO designations. It finds that the network is adding significant value to our economy and society and recommends how this value can be enhanced.

The National Value of UNESCO Designations to the United Kingdom Report shows how UNESCO is bringing sites, people and communities together, and creating and delivering value for the United Kingdom. It finds that the vibrant network of UNESCO sites in the UK, its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are contributing in three main areas: they contribute financial value, they make a rich and creative contribution to the UK’s environment, culture and communities and contribute to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

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The 2020 National Value for UNESCO to the UK Report & Programme Case Studies

The case studies that form this series illustrate these benefits to the UK that are contributed by the vibrant Network of UK UNESCO sites as found by the National Value Report; featuring financial value, academic research, environmentalism and climate change, promotion and preservation of culture, education and more.


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