World Heritage and Human Rights in Bagan, Myanmar

Anne-Laura Kraak (
Arts and Education, Deakin University
July, 2017
Anne-Laura Kraak completed her PhD, titled 'World Heritage and human rights in Bagan, Myanmar', in 2017 at Deakin University. Her research project was about the implications, challenges and opportunities of human rights-based approaches to World Heritage conservation in Bagan, Myanmar.

Anne-Laura has a BA in Liberal Arts from University College Utrecht (2011) and an MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums from the University of Cambridge (2012)

Her work has been published in the Human Rights Defender, the International Journal of Cultural Policy, Historic Environment, and in the volume World Heritage and Human Rights: Lessons from the Asia-Pacific and global arena (Routledge). Currently she is editing a Special Issue on rights-based approaches to heritage management in the International Journal of Cultural Property.


There is an increasing concern with the ethics of cultural heritage practice at a time when globally human rights language is growing in popularity. The link between cultural heritage and human rights is becoming established as scholars and policy makers have suggested that human rights-based policies could present a means to address issues of social justice in cultural heritage practice. This interdisciplinary and multi-scalar research is one of the first studies that investigates the implications, challenges and opportunities of implementing human rights-based approaches to heritage conservation on the ground. In particular, it is concerned with the extent to which engagement with human rights can help to reconcile the often different agendas of conservation, living heritage, and development at the historic and religious site Bagan in Myanmar, for which currently a World Heritage nomination is being prepared and where many rights are at stake. Social justice in the context of Bagan’s World Heritage nomination is a complex problem and several forces are identified that influence the dynamics between cultural heritage and human rights in Bagan. These forces are conceptual, political and practical and can be found on local, national and global levels. In the light of this complexity, it is argued that although a human rights framework can provide certain valuable insights, it faces several serious limitations and should be used in juxtaposition with alternative frameworks.