Review of World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights by Stefan Disko and Helen Tugehndhat (eds.)

Verschuuren, Bas | from Multimedia Library Collection:

Verschuuren, Bas. Review of World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights by Stefan Disko and Helen Tugehndhat (eds.). Conservation & Society 14, no. 2 (2016): 161-62.

Disko, Stefan, and Helen Tugehndhat, eds. World Heritage Sites and Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), in collaboration with the Forest Peoples Programme and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. Copenhagen: IWGIA, 2014. 

This book rides on the latest wave of publications that elaborate on the need for rights-based approaches to conservation in protected areas and World Heritage sites (Ekern et al. 2012; Larsen 2012; Meskell 2013; Oviedo and Puschkarsky 2012). What makes this book unique is that it presents the current state of affairs of indigenous peoples rights in the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1972) by building on twenty well-documented case studies developed by and in collaboration with indigenous peoples themselves. The book focuses on their recognition and engagement in World Heritage sites by moving beyond the recollection of past injustices and violations of their rights. It successfully traces the culprit of the current lack of engagement of indigenous peoples within World Heritage sites back to the procedures and implementation of the World Heritage Convention, its organs and operational guidelines.

This book does offer critical academic analysis on the nexus of international policy, cultural relativism and human rights but there is more to it. The ample case studies based on rich ethnographic material and policy analysis provide varied emic and epic narratives that bring to live a broad range of perspectives from indigenous peoples and conservation practitioners to non-governmental organisations and policy makers. This book not only gives a voice to indigenous peoples but also lets other professionals speak about their challenges in improving engagement of indigenous peoples and their rights in World Heritage sites. (Excerpt from author’s review)

© 2016 Bas Verschuuren. Conservation & Society is available online only and is published under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.5).