2011 ICOMOS General Assembly

Results of the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly

Paris, 28 November – 1 December 2011


ICOMOS02-0017914 ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, held its 17th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium in Paris, at UNESCO headquarters from 28 November to 1December 2011.

Held under the high patronage of Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, and Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, this event gathered 1 150 participants from 106 countries, and saw 77 ICOMOS National Committees represented. This record attendance was noted by all, especially by Mr. Gustavo Araoz, President of ICOMOS, who made particular reference to this in his introductory remarks. This encourages us to consider that this important moment in the life of ICOMOS is also the foremost gathering of heritage professionals world-wide.

A generous grant from the Getty Foundation and the ICOMOS Victoria Falls Fund supported 63 professionals from 47 countries to attend this General Assembly.

The General Assembly adopted two new doctrinal texts, which complement the existing set of Charters which ICOMOS has been promoting since its first General Assembly in 1965 in order to provide guidance to authorities, institutions, experts and any interested stakeholder in their action for the conservation and enhancement of heritage sites. These newly adopted texts comprise:

–       the joint ICOMOS – TICCIH Principles for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage Sites, Structures, Areas and Landscapes;

–       the Valletta Principles for the Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas.

It also adopted the Paris Declaration on « Heritage as a Driver of Development » resulting from the discussions during the Scientific Symposium, as well as 46 resolutions, concerning organisational ICOMOS matters such as the adoption of new Rules of Procedure for the General Assembly, but particularly on newly emerging heritage issues, for example in connection with human rights and peace, and situations affecting specific monuments and sites.

The Piero Gazzola Prize was awarded to Professor Nobuo Ito for his outstanding commitment in support of cultural heritage in Japan and internationally for over sixty years, and in particular for his key role in the adoption of the Nara Document on Authenticity in 1994, building bridges between East and West in terms of conservation philosophy.

11 members were conferred Honorary Membership.

The General Assembly also elected a new leadership, comprising Mr Gustavo Araoz (USA) who was re-elected as President, Ms Kirsti Kovanen (Finland) elected as Secretary General, Ms Laura Robinson (South Africa) as Treasurer General; 5 Vice-Presidents and 12 members for the Executive Committee. The composition of the new international leadership team thus includes representatives from: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Mexico, South Africa and the USA.

On the occasion of the General Assembly, ICOMOS and ICCROM signed a partnership agreement so as to put on record the growing number of areas in which our two organizations have been cooperating on since our creation and to formalize the framework of this longstanding cooperation.

The complete report by the Rapporteurs of the General Assembly will be available on the ICOMOS website in due course.

The central theme of the Scientific Symposium was: « Heritage, Driver of Development ». The discussions showed, in the words of Mr. Benjamin Mouton, Chairman of the Scientific Committee, that « heritage must again be placed at the heart of development concerns; its ownership must be restored to the communities to whom this heritage belongs and to those who come to discover and enjoy it, by rendering it accessible in all its richness.”

Over 150 speakers came to present their papers. Of good scientific merit, these provided fuel for discussions during the various Symposium sessions, and for the first time in workshop-debates, held during the lunch breaks, which allowed a larger number of contributions to be heard.

The papers will soon be available in electronic format on the ICOMOS web site.

The 17th General Assembly brought another innovation with the introduction of a Youth Forum, the result of close cooperation with educational institutions in the field of heritage, both French and foreign. This collaboration mobilized a dozen institutions and took shape in several ways:

–       Physical participation in the Youth Forum where the students could represent their schools (or universities) and their works on a stand;

–       Participation in the Symposium through the appointment of Junior Rapporteurs, working in tandem with Senior Rapporteurs;

–       Their involvement as moderators in the workshop-debates;

–       Their involvement in guiding visits (eg. at the Cité de l’Architecture).

The prevailing idea was to promote exchanges between students and to integrate them more closely in the conduct of the General Assembly, to consider them as professional partners in their own right and associating them closely in the development of the Scientific Symposium’s conclusions.

Also with the aim of promoting exchanges and better mutual understanding, a Forum of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committees was organized during the General Assembly. The International Scientific Committees were given the opportunity to present their activities, an offer which was met with great success. Several ISCs also held their regular annual meetings during the duration of the General Assembly.

During the 17th General Assembly, the partners who supported its organisation were invited to participate in the sessions and the discussions of the Scientific Symposium. They were furthermore offered the opportunity to present their work in the Exhibitors Forum which gave rise to fruitful exchanges.

Being the first time since ICOMOS’ founding that this General Assembly has taken place in the French capital, Mr. Pierre-Antoine Gatier, President of the 17th General Assembly and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, expressed particular satisfaction at the success of the 2011 Paris event.


 The final communiqué of the General Assembly can also be consulted on the ICOMOS website : http://www.international.icomos.org/Paris2011/GA2011_Press_release_EN_20120109.pdf


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