UNESCO World Heritage

An international effort led by The Workers Museum, is working on a UNESCO nomination to get a selection of workers’ assembly halls across the globe inscribed as world heritage.

This project aims to preserve the global labour movement by working towards inscription of those buildings in which the labour movement developed. Read our call for buildings in the Collection Campaign Material (also available in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and French).

You can browse through a StoryMap of workers’ assembly halls and gathering places for the labour movement. Not all of these buildings are part of the UNESCO nomination series, but they are all important for the understanding of these halls’ significance in establishing the labour movement around the world. Do you want to add a workers’ hall, trades hall or people’s house to the map? We appreciate the contribution.

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The socialist labour movement is one of the major forces that has shaped international relations, national societies, and the lives of individual people during the past 150 years. With the central values of liberty, equality, and solidarity, the labour movement provided an ideological gathering point for a new sense of identity and belonging.

Through the establishment of formal organisations, the labour movement based the struggle for workers’ rights on the power of unity and communities. The result was a highly diverse and devolved labour movement which provided an organisational framework for many aspects of the daily life of the working-class. Much of this organisation developed in the workers’ assembly halls.

The labour movement holds outstanding universal value as a social and cultural phenomenon. The intangible values of the labour movement are manifested in the physical workers’ assembly halls and a transnational serial nomination will show that the heritage of the labour movement belongs to the everyone.

Why a UNESCO World Heritage Transnational Serial Nomination?

The UNESCO World Heritage list includes industrial sites witnessing the industrial revolution, but this nomination will represent the organisational framework of cultural, social, political and educational aspects of the working class. The workers’ assembly halls played a vital role in the development of the labour movement. And although the labour movement is a global phenomenon it has developed differently in various parts of the world throughout a long period of time.

The series of assembly halls will give an overview of the variations in workers’ history and how it developed locally around the world yet remained a global phenomenon. By assembling a list of buildings testifying both to the common goals of community, welfare and democracy, as well as to the regional characteristics of the socialist labour movement, we hope to help preserve this unique heritage and provide a source of reflection for future generations in shaping their world.

What Does an Inscription to the UNESCO World Heritage List Mean?

Taking part in the transnational serial nomination means being part of a global network of workers’ assembly halls who jointly will preserve and safekeep monuments that represent the global labour movement. We will be able to create awareness of the important history of the struggle for rights in the past and that is still happening today. The nomination will not only preserve the tangible value of brick and mortar but also preserve the intangible values of the socialist labour movement.

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