>Background: Conservation of Cultural Heritage Resources: National and International Contexts

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Sustainable development programmes relating to community participation have been explored and refined in the context of natural resources (wilderness and wildlife) as a search for sustainable approaches to resource management in Botswana (cf. Republic of Botswana Tourism Policy, 1990; Republic of Botswana Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act, 1992; Republic of Botswana Community Based Natural Resources Management Policy, 2007) and elsewhere (Roe et al., 2001; Binns and Nel, 2002). However, the same cannot be said about the field of cultural heritage resource management as illustrated in Figure1 above. Research on approaches to community participation in cultural/archaeological heritage resource management in southern Africa (cf. Ndoro, 2001; Lee Long, unpublished Ph.D. thesis) has failed to link cultural heritage resource management practices with the sustainable development programme (Keitumetse, unpublished Ph.D. thesis). Conversely, in countries such as the UK, sustainability principles are to some significant degree linked to the field of cultural heritage resource management. For instance, the precautionary principle (Fisher et al., 2006) of sustainable development, which emphasizes proactive management strategies, is incorporated and implemented through the ‘polluter pays principle’, where a developer pays for archaeological impact assessment (cf. Smith, 1993) prior to commencement of development activities (cf. English Heritage, 1997, 1991; Department of the Environment, England, 1990; European Commission, 2003) as well as paying for associated conservation costs where significant archaeological deposits are identified in the process. The practice was legally adopted in Botswana’s Monuments and Relics Act of 2001, and is yet to be accorded systematic implementation.

At international level, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) conventions guide cultural heritage management approaches, and several of these address topics relating to sustainability, as indicated in Table2.

Table 2. International conventions that relate to cultural heritage resource management

Convention (international)



UNESCO convention for the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage


recognizes the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage

World Decade for Cultural Development (1988–1997)


recognizes public participation in cultural heritage issues

1989 International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries


reinforces the relevance of the community participation

World Commission on Culture and Development (WCCD)


focuses on community culture issues

International Cultural Tourism Charter: Managing Tourism places of heritage significance


focuses on ‘the dynamic interaction between tourism and cultural heritage’

Universal declaration on cultural diversity, 2001


Encourages cultural diversity resulting in sustainable cultures (Hall, 1992) and sustainable communities (Warburton, 1998)

UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage


defines intangible heritage as ‘… practices, representations and expressions, and knowledge and skills, which … provide communities and groups with a sense of identity and continuity’

International conventions shape socio-political action and their ubiquity suggests that they can be used in understanding social phenomena (Miller, 2001) such as approaches to resource management approaches. The sustainable development programme can be viewed as a type of convention that is embraced by various governments and global institutions.

In Botswana, as in most African countries, policies on cultural heritage resource management are limited, mainly because the field is relatively new in the region. It was not until 2001 that a Botswana National Policy on Culture, 2001 was adopted. Table3 summarizes Botswana policies that relate to management of cultural heritage resources.

Table 3. Summary of post-independence legislation that has implications for current approaches to cultural heritage management in Botswana (Keitumetse, unpublished Ph.D. thesis)



Brief description


Anthropological Research Act

to monitor social-science research on indigenous communities


National Museum and Art Gallery Act

to guide museum establishment


Tribal Land Act

to address issues related to tribal land allocation and use – cultural landscape


Monuments and Relics Act Chapter 59:03

for protection of archaeological features


Monuments and Relics Act

re-enacted version of the 1970 Act that enforces archaeological impact assessment (AIA)


Sustainable development and cultural heritage management in Botswana: towards sustainable communities

Conceptual Analysis
Way Forward


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