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My interview partners were residents and workers in the historic neighbourhoods, volunteers and activists from Istanbul’s civil platforms, and academics, architects, and urban planners.I also talked to members of ICOMOS () Turkey, and the Turkish National Commission of UNESCO, and in addition to employees from different municipalities, national institutions, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.Current projects in Istanbul include the construction of a third Bosporus Bridge, the building of a canal parallel to the Bosporus, and the reconstruction of historic neighbourhoods.Recently a metro bridge over the Golden Horn and a railway tunnel under the Bosporus were opened.The UNESCO World Heritage (WH) label is nowadays used by different actors to promote tourist destinations and to highlight the unique character of single sites. the World Heritage Committee) has become a reference point in statements made by local activists and newspapers in Istanbul criticizing current developments at WH sites.
Instead of viewing this as a structural problem, I argue that certain inconsistencies are intended by central and local authorities in order to provide a flexible frame for the implementation of transformation projects in historical neighbourhoods.
The decision-making body of the WHC is formed of the representatives from 21 of the 191 biannually elected States Parties.2 Hence, decisions at different heritage sites are not primarily influenced by UNESCO as an international entity, but by the complex composition of several States Parties in the WHC and experts within the advisory bodies.
Turkey became a State Party to the 1972 “UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” in 1982.3 In the same year, the “Legislation for the Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage” [, Law No.
In the last part, I will illustrate how urban transformation and historic preservation has been combined in a centralized management system in Istanbul.
The widely accepted (re)production of heritage, and the relative powerlessness of UNESCO’s WHC on a local level, supports a heritage management system in favour of huge transformation projects.