Heritage Law Gets its Own International Conference

ICOMOS Nordic and the ICOMOS national committees of the Baltic nations have announced an important international conference devoted to heritage law.   The conference, “Historical Perspective of Heritage Legislation,” will be held in Tallinn, Estonia from 12-13 October 2016.  The Conference is being held in commemoration of the 350th Anniversary of the 1666 Conservation Act by King Charles XI of Sweden and 50th Anniversary of Tallinn Old Town Conservation Area.
The target of the conference is to discuss the correlation between legislation and common values. The presentations both on history and contemporary issues are expected and the conference will work in sections accordingly. While the call for papers ended April 1, interested persons are encouraged to contact ICOMOS Estonia about participation opportunities.
The ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues (ICLAFI) will hold its annual meeting in tandem with the Conference.  The objective of ICLAFI is to promote international cooperation in the identification, study and solution of legal, administrative and financial issues in connection with the protection, maintenance and conservation of monuments, groups of buildings and sites. United States experts credentialed to ICLAFI include Professor James Reap, John Fowler, Andrew Potts, Barbara Hoffman, Eve Errickson and Marion Werkheiser.
The Swedish Conservation Act of 1666 is not the earliest heritage protection act in Europe, but has been one of the most influential.  This is in part  because of the broad territorial application the Law enjoyed (at the time, the Swedish Kingdom included Sweden but also Finland, Estonia and parts of Latvia, Germany and Russia) and is the ground of current legislation in Sweden and elsewhere. It is also important because of its substantive reach.  It covered not  only the property of the King and the Church, but also the Viking-era heritage, folk art and tales, building ruins, sacred groves and springs and more.   It regulated the excavations of old graves; it forbade the reuse of ancient monuments as building materials, and the relocation of monuments, etc.
The law’s expansive scope makes it an important precursor to contemporary heritage law and useful touchstone in evaluating the historic context of modern heritage law issues.
The Tallinn Old Town Conservation Area was first of the kind in the former Soviet Union,  setting regulations to the development processes that influenced not only the development but also the common understanding of heritage values.

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