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Phnom Penh-Vientiane Charter on Cultural Diversity and Heritage Tourism

Workshop on Museums, Cultural Mapping and Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia
Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Vientiane, Lao PDR, 30 July to 8 August 2006

We, the participants at the ICOM cross border regional workshop entitled Bringing People and their Heritage Together, consisting of sixty delegates from Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, and Timor Leste, having worked through case studies, workshops and study tours in Cambodia and Laos, recommend that,

In the context of sustainable heritage development, museums as civic spaces:  

  • Facilitate the maximisation of benefits and minimisation of negative impacts on stakeholder communities from the accelerated pace of globalisation in all its forms
  • Locate culture in development and ensure responsible heritage tourism in Southeast Asia, as endorsed in the ASEAN Declaration on Cultural Heritage as a priority by the member countries
  • Develop appropriate methodologies for systematic cultural mapping of heritage resources: tangible and intangible, movable and immovable, natural and cultural, creativity and communities, with an emphasis on the rich cultural diversity of humanity acknowledged as a priority by ICOM’s commitment to the promotion of inclusive museums
  • Promote the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, 2001 and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, 2005

Stakeholder Engagement

  • Promote participatory democracy by bringing together heritage resources and their neighbouring communities, stimulating community based development through heritage tourism that contributes to poverty alleviation without compromising the integrity of heritage resources
  • Conduct community and wider stakeholder benefit analysis so that the implementation of programmes and projects ensures economic and social benefits to the primary stakeholders
  • Promote an ethical practice of development governed by the ICOM Code of Ethics
  • Convey the multiplicity of perspectives and the significance of local voices through accredited programs for quality interpretation of cultural resources, communicating heritage values to visitors and ensuring the building of capacity amongst local people enabling them to participate in development activities without exploitation by middlemen or copyright violations

Cultural Diversity

  • Promote cultural diversity as an ethical concern in all aspects of cultural mapping and heritage tourism development affirming the rich cultural diversity of Southeast Asia considering race, ethnicity, colour, gender, age, class, economic status, faith, language, sexual orientation, and local identities
  • Integrate gender perspectives addressing representation of women’s heritage across the whole spectrum of museum and heritage tourism development
  • Promote museums as secular spaces for interfaith dialogue and cross cultural education fostering a culture of peace and harmony
  • Recognise the significance of language diversity and linguistic heritage as a resource for research, interpretation and management, and as a reflection of unique cultural perspectives, expressions and traditions of Southeast Asia
  • Explore inclusive and innovative ways of facilitating the participation of people with disabilities as personnel, volunteers and visitors in the heritage and tourism sectors

Cultural Mapping

  • Promote cultural mapping as a process of the stakeholder communities identifying and documenting local heritage resources, within the context of integrated local area planning that enables effective people centred development
  • Consider the importance of documentation and standardised inventorying systems for integration of intangible and tangible heritage resources, recognising the considerable cultural diversity at the local, provincial, and regional level, and in doing so working on the development of a Thesaurus of key words and significant terms at national and regional levels in Southeast Asia
  • Promote cultural planning based on demonstration projects of cultural mapping informing employment strategies and tourism development, through quality cultural experiences and products, developing museums as cultural centres and facilitators of festivals and special events 
  • Recognise cultural mapping as crucial for integrated planning and sustainable economic and cultural development providing a meaningful vehicle for local community economic empowerment, and as an important tool for redressing cultural inequities in post-colonial societies
  • Recognise the significance of education within the framework of cultural mapping bringing local museums into a participatory framework with educational institutions such as schools and adult learning centres and developing modular resource materials for teachers

Heritage Tourism

  • Promote productive partnerships between museums and the private sector for the responsible use of heritage resources in tourism maximising on the use of local expertise, resources and opportunities
  • Ensure that the economic benefits derived from tourism are also used for heritage conservation, development, maintenance, interpretation and community capacity building through funds established from tourism income
  • Prioritise capacity building for interpreters, educational personnel and volunteers through appropriate accreditation and museum certification as a way of protecting and promoting the cultural diversity of the region in the face of the rapid growth of tourism

We, the participants at the ICOM cross border regional workshop, Bringing People and their Heritage Together, envisage

  • The formation of a new entity, ICOM Southeast Asia, incorporating an Association of Southeast Asian Museums (ASEAM) to meet in 2007
  • The establishment of an International Training Centre of Excellence for sustainable museum and heritage development in Asia
  • Launching an advocacy campaign to promote cultural diversity and responsible heritage tourism through museums in Southeast Asia.

Updated: 5 February 2007