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Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

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OurWorldHeritage VOICES
(@worldheritage2022)
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Hello everyone,

Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) will be discussed during the UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meeting this year. This World Heritage site, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2004, has been on the list in danger since 2012 and is now proposed for deletion from the World Heritage list.

For relevant documents please find item 34:
http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2021/whc21-44com-7A.Add-en.pdf (EN) or 
http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2021/whc21-44com-7A.Add-fr.pdf (FR).

We welcome you to take part with your comments and information on the conservation of this site. OurWorldHeritage will moderate the forum according to the rules described here. You can write in your own language, but we encourage you to use English to facilitate the dissemination of your ideas.

OurWorldHeritage


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tmore.arch
(@tmore-arch)
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Honestly, I was expecting a brawl on this forum surrounding Liverpool – but then no one showed up (yet). Which is perhaps a pity for this initiative. But perhaps it is just an appropriate result, hopefully not one of ignorance, but, on the contrary, of common sense. The case of Liverpool is, par excellence, a story of exploiting the World Heritage brand to its logical contradiction, and the failure of translating international legal obligations (the Convention) into local planning policies.

If you read through all the 14 state of conservation reports, their assessments by the WHC, and two Reactive monitoring mission reports, the site’s management plan and the official city website, you would understand that the decision to de-list “Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City” is not a matter of misunderstanding, nor racketeering by the international heritage lobby, but rather a simple ethical question.

You either decide to abide by the systems or codes of moral rules, principles, or values as outlined by the 1972 Convention or you don’t, and you draw back your membership. In general terms correlation can be made with Brexit, but again, with all due considerations, this is not a politically motivated motion by the Committee or the World Heritage Center. Perhaps they could have postponed the decision by one year. Or perhaps it was just the right moment for maneuvering political obstacles in the Committee that are usually present. But the decision is grounded on undeniable facts in the past 17 years and should have come through sooner or later. Instead of debating on any political motivations, it should serve as an example for the rest of us to reflect upon. Coming from a rapidly transforming touristic country myself, it is a particularly tell-tale example.

The biggest tragedy, for the city governors, is the loss of the World Heritage brand, while in the meantime, for all of us it is the real loss of the property’s integrity- or the urban and social fabric. Let us not forget that Liverpool was inscribed as a *tangible* cultural property. Economic growth through construction of office towers for the future generations of consultants, bankers etc. could have been simply stimulated couple of miles further up or down the river. The negative impacts on its tangible (and intangible) features could have been mitigated by appropriate urban planning measures.

Beyond dissonant voices on the meaning of heritage and Outstanding Universal Value, the biggest challenge today and ever since the 90s, in fact lies in urban planning. British urban planning is at the present moment notoriously liberal – meaning that its statutory planning policies and regulations are ambiguous, and very likely for a reason. Ask any urban planner and heritage specialist in Britain, or perhaps on the site of your country’s urban (world heritage) property, and you may get the same answer - even if  the WHC/ICOMOS hasn’t reported on in it before.


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Dennis
(@dennis)
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I fully disagree with the previous posting. It is unethical to move the 'goalposts' post-inscription.

Liverpool set out its stall on the premiss of safeguarding Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City. The ICOMOS Evaluation misread the essential pillar needed to achieve the safeguarding of the World Heritage Site once inscribed.

This is a key lesson for UNESCO and ICOMOS. 

Do not scapegoat Liverpool:  

"Personal Reflection on the 2021 Draft Decision to delete Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City from the UNESCO World Heritage List":

https://www.academia.edu/49440845/_Personal_Reflection_on_the_2021_Draft_Decision_to_delete_Liverpool_Maritime_Mercantile_City_from_the_UNESCO_World_Heritage_List_2021_06_28

If delisted, anticipate a backlash. Liverpool will survive, no problem. The credibility of the World Heritage system?

Dennis Rodwell

 


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Dennis
(@dennis)
Eminent Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 15
 

I fully disagree with the previous posting. It is unethical to move the 'goalposts' post-inscription.

Liverpool set out its stall on the premiss of safeguarding Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City. The ICOMOS Evaluation misread the essential pillar needed to achieve the safeguarding of the World Heritage Site once inscribed.

This is a key lesson for UNESCO and ICOMOS. 

Do not scapegoat Liverpool:  

"Personal Reflection on the 2021 Draft Decision to delete Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City from the UNESCO World Heritage List":

https://www.academia.edu/49440845/_Personal_Reflection_on_the_2021_Draft_Decision_to_delete_Liverpool_Maritime_Mercantile_City_from_the_UNESCO_World_Heritage_List_2021_06_28

If delisted, anticipate a backlash. Liverpool will survive, no problem. The credibility of the World Heritage system?

Dennis Rodwell

 


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tmore.arch
(@tmore-arch)
Active Member
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Posts: 4
 

@dennis Thank you Mr Rodwell,

Interesting insight, as always.

I understand that there were misconceptions surrounding the notion of historic urban landscape especially early in the 2000s as you wrote yourself in several occasions. I haven’t yet read your latest paper, but presently I don’t believe that the exclusion of this notion in time of its inscription legitimizes the ignoring of, amongst else, the Heritage Impact Assessment for the Liverpool waters project done by English Heritage in 2011. Nor does it preclude the principles established by the Washington charter or the Granada Convention, unless we hold these obsolete.

I am personally a big fan of recent Liverpool’s cultural legacy, and by no means do I want to scapegoat anyone – but for the sake of our World Heritage, and its value for the heritage profession and communities alike, lessons should be defined, principles should be harmonized and critical gaps should be addressed... 


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Dennis
(@dennis)
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Joined: 5 months ago
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@tmore-arch

Thank you. My most recent paper is just three pages. I encourage you to read it.

 


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Dennis
(@dennis)
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Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 15
 

Live streaming of the WHCom discussion: http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/44com/


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francesco
(@francesco)
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Posts: 6
 

Liverpool proposed for delisting: I will not comment on the substance of the case but on the process observed during the Committee discussion. 

This is in fact an excellent case to illustrate the politicization of the Convention. The Committee has discussed the case for one hour (the decision will be finalized tomorrow), during which all sorts of arguments, except the ones that matter (conservation, OUV) have been put forward to postpone the deletion from the List.

1. The case is serious and requires reflection (the Committee has observed the situation and issued recommendations and threats for 10 years).

1. Give another year to the State Party to find corrective measures (when all the buildings that are considered negative for the OUV have already been built and decisions on new buildings have already been taken).

2. There is a need for a mission (after 10 years of discussions, 2 technical missions, endless discussions, etc.). 

3. There is a new Administration in place that needs to be given time to reflect (the new Administration is the one that has authorized the construction of a stadium in the area)

4. And finally: The pandemic situation is a factor for postponement (but only for danger listing and deletions, not for nominations).

None of the member states in favor of postponing the decision has put forward a single substantial argument on the issue, because this clearly does not matter...

The State Party (UK) made a long plea against the delisting (something NOT ALLOWED by the rules) without offering a single substantial argument, not answering to the Icomos conclusions, only claiming the good intentions of the local administration. On top, the SP spoke for over 5 minutes instead of 2 (future SPs: take notice). 

 


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Dennis
(@dennis)
Eminent Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 15
 

In my strong opinion, the interventions today on behalf of ICOMOS, urging deletion of Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City from the World Heritage List, were inconsistent to the point of contradictory with the 2004 ICOMOS Advisory Evaluation, as noted in my 28th June 'Personal Reflection'. 

 

 


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Dennis
(@dennis)
Eminent Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 15
 

@francesco

I can agree up to a point, but with ICOMOS itself in evident turmoil about the constituents and key elements of the OUV of the property, I attach little to no credibility to the ICOMOS representation today. The guy opened the door to a political decision-making process. What else is there?!

As to the State Party's intervention, least said is best!

 


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mike
 mike
(@mike)
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Posts: 9
 

We may be seeing the adjournment of the debate (Rules of Procedure 31) which will be a precedent for both proposed properties for de-listing....

 

 

This post was modified 5 months ago by mike

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Dennis
(@dennis)
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@mike 

Makes sense.

 


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mariosantana
(@mariosantana)
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Dennis in most cases I always agree with you, but this time I would disagree. Blaming ICOMOS for a politicization of the discussion is not adequate. Could you elaborate on the responsibility of the UK in this issue - this is key are we or are we not protecting the OUV ?. I was born in a ruleless nation where violations of heritage are in the order of the day so it is so difficult for me to understand how a democratic country with solid governance in heritage protection be allowed to have a site on the endangered list and further on the verge of getting delisted.


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Dennis
(@dennis)
Eminent Member
Joined: 5 months ago
Posts: 15
 

@mariosantana 

Thank you Mario. My point is simple. Which narrative of OUV is ICOMOS currently flogging? The UK's nomination highlighted the urban landscape in its draft wording for the criteria. The 2004 ICOMOS Report deleted 'landscape', thereby telling the State Party that it is not important and encouraging it to proceed accordingly, which it + Liverpool have done. Yesterday the ICOMOS guy focused on incursions into the urban landscape as the premise for delisting. I did not find him credible.

What is the State Party supposed to understand from this fiasco? And what are the WHCom members supposed to do? To protect the OUV, the basic starting point is agreement as to what the OUV is. ICOMOS yesterday, to me, was bluster. Humility please. ICOMOS needs to build bridges. Do you imagine that ICOMOS is currently credible in Liverpool + UK?

ICOMOS has profoundly mudded the waters. WHCom members are left free to decide their own view as the basis for their decision. Whether it's political, what kind of dinner they had the night before, or what side of the bed they get out of in the morning, is as random as the ICOMOS volte face. 

I hope this answers your query!

 


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mariosantana
(@mariosantana)
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Dennis, it does not answer my overarching question. why a country at the forefront of conservation and governance requires ICOMOS or any other organization to provide them with good practice and theory to conserve their heritage stock, while ICOMOS was funded by many UK experts, among them I remembered my teacher Donald Insall. 


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