Following the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol on June 7th, the renewed support for the "Rhodes must fall" campaign, targeting predominantly the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford, and the vandalism of Winston Churchill's statue during the George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests in the UK, the Mayor of London has set up a commission to "review the capital's landmarks to ensure they reflect its diversity".

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm will focus on increasing representation among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, women, the LGBTQ+ community and disability groups.


The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm will review the landmarks that currently makes up London’s public realm, further the discussion into what legacies should be celebrated, and make a series of recommendations aimed at establishing best practice and standards.

It will be wide in scope and consider murals, street art, street names, statues and other memorials.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our capital’s diversity is our greatest strength, yet our statues, road names and public spaces reflect a bygone era. It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade and while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been wilfully ignored.

“This cannot continue. We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is – that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated.

“The Black Lives Matter protests have rightly brought this to the public’s attention, but it’s important that we take the right steps to work together to bring change and ensure that we can all be proud of our public landscape.”

It seems that this Commission will make recommendations not only on how the diversity of the city can be reflected by expanding its architecture and landmarks but also on whether certain landmarks currently on show should remain - according to the BBC:

Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he did not have ownership of the statues and the land they are on.

He also said it would be "inappropriate" to single out which statues and street names he thinks should go.

Has this process or a similar review been undertaken previously in any other countries or cities? I'm more interested in reviews undertaken by national or local government rather than petitions or vandalism.

  • Based on my experience as a parish councillor (not an elevated electoral office, I will concede) the naming of any newly-created roads, the installation of eg park benches in memory of named individuals etc are taken by elected bodies. And presumably such decisions have historically been undertaken in the same way by the legally constituted authorities of the time. The only question arising, in my view, is whether such decisions should be subject to automatic periodic review.
    – WS2
    Dec 30, 2021 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


Maybe not necessarily a review of diversity issue specifically, but many countries do take down monuments for political reasons, with or without a review, some examples I can think of is the recent removal of Tiananmen Square massacre statue in HKU and in Thailand, Constitution Defence Monument, a monument dedicated to the lost of a monarchist coup d'etats against the newly democratized government, was relocated to make way for new monorail line, but to this day the monument has not been found (even when it is obviously relocated by government entity, otherwise who would be allowed?)


Q: Have any local/national authorities conducted official reviews of historical landmarks?

The city of Chicago, Illinois, created a commission to conduct such a review.

City of Chicago Announces Project to Assess Memorials and Monuments in the City’s Public Art Collection, August 12, 2020

The City of Chicago, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Chicago Park District (Parks) and Chicago Public Schools (CPS), today announced a racial healing and historical reckoning project to assess the memorials, monuments and other art across Chicago. The project will grapple with the often unacknowledged – or forgotten – history associated with the City’s various municipal art collections, and will provide a vehicle to address the hard truths of Chicago’s racial history, confront the ways in which that history has and has not been memorialized, and develop a framework for marking public space that elevates new ways to memorialize Chicago’s true and complete history. The project will have four main objectives, including:

  • Cataloguing monuments and public art on City or sister agency property;
  • Appointing an advisory committee to determine which pieces warrant attention or action;
  • Making recommendations on any new monuments or public art that could be commissioned; and
  • Creating a platform for the public to engage in a civic dialogue about Chicago’s history.

As Review of Chicago Monuments Stalls Amid Controversy, Columbus Statues Remain in Storage, July 22, 2021

After six months of work, that commission flagged 41 monuments as “problematic” in February, touching off a firestorm by including statues of four presidents, including native son Abraham Lincoln.

“The city’s efforts throughout this process have not been about a single statue or mural, but about creating a formal process that will reflect our values and elevate our rich history and diversity,” [Mayor Lightfoot’s press secretary Cesar] Rodriguez said.

The General Assembly of the state of Illinois has the Statue and Monument Review Task Force to review state monuments.

Historians urge state lawmakers who are weighing the fate of controversial monuments to make their task a ‘teaching moment’, July 28, 2021

Ultimately, the task force is charged with reviewing all monuments on state property before making public recommendations on the removal of any statues or erection of new monuments.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch launched the committee in April, after his predecessor, Michael Madigan, called for the removal of all imagery with ties to slavery from the Illinois Capitol’s grounds.

The creation of the task force came shortly after the city of Chicago launched its Chicago Monuments Project and flagged 41 monuments for public discussion and review, including five statues of Abraham Lincoln.


City of Edinburgh Council in Scotland has started a review into slavery and colonialism. Quote:

Edinburgh has agreed to address historic racial injustice and stem modern day discrimination.

One action is to hold an independent review of the things in our city which link to slavery and colonialism. This may include features like statues of residents in the past. They could also be buildings and street names named after Edinburgh people linked to slavery or colonialism.

The city has a number of controversial monuments such as a column and statue honoring Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, who allegedly argued against the abolition of slavery and prevented its abolition in the British Empire for several years.

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