The present article traces the growing awareness of the fundamental linkage between conserving cultural heritage, maintaining cultural diversity and enforcing human rights. It argues that such awareness supports a re-conception of heritage conservation as a form of cultural practice in which human rights-based approaches can be well accommodated. The present article is based on my contribution to the introductory chapter of the book Cultural Diversity, Heritage and Human Rights (Langﬁeld et al. 2010), which I edited with Professors Michele Langﬁeld and Máiréad Nic Craith. It is also informed by the work being done at the Ofﬁce of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva by Ms Farida Shaheed, a Pakistani sociologist who was appointed as an independent expert in August 2009 to investigate cultural rights over a three-year period. In 2011, she chose to focus on access to, and enjoyment of, cultural heritage as a cultural right. This was seen to be of particular concern because: ‘ensuring access to cultural heritage is a precondition for fostering dialogue and understanding across cultures
and civilizations and therefore, for creating an environment which enables the promotion and protection of human rights for all’ (OHCHR 2010).