A WORLD HERITAGE SITE is a landmark or area which has been officially
recognized by the
United Nations , specifically by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (
UNESCO ). Sites are
selected on the basis of having cultural, historical, scientific or
some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by
UNESCO regards these sites as being important
to the collective interests of humanity.
More specifically, a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site is an already classified
landmark, which by way of being unique in some respect as a
geographically and historically identifiable piece is of special
cultural or physical significance (such as either due to hosting an
ancient ruins or some historical structure, building, city, complex,
desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain) and symbolizes a
remarkable footprint of extreme human endeavour often coupled with
some act of indisputable accomplishment of humanity which then serves
as a surviving evidence of its intellectual existence on the planet.
With the intent of its practical conservation for posterity, which
otherwise could be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing,
owing to unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access or threat owing
to local administrative negligence, sites are listed and demarcated by
UNESCO to have been identified or recognised as a protected zone.
The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme
administered by the
World Heritage Committee , composed of 21
UNESCO member states which are elected by the
UN General Assembly
UN General Assembly .
The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding
cultural or natural importance to the common culture and heritage of
humanity . Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds
from the World Heritage Fund. The program was founded with the
Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and
Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of
UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 193 state parties have
ratified the convention, making it one of the most adhered to
international instruments and the normative cultural instrument with
the highest number of ratifications.
As of July 2017, 1073 sites are listed : 832 cultural, 206 natural,
and 35 mixed properties, in 167 states. According to the sites
ranked by country , Italy is the home to the greatest number of World
Heritage Sites with 53 sites, followed by China (52), Spain (46),
India (36), Mexico (34) and United Kingdom
British Overseas Territories (31) .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Convention and background
* 2 Nominating process
* 3 Selection criteria
* 3.1 Cultural criteria
* 3.2 Natural criteria
* 3.3 Legal status of designated sites
* 4 Extensions and other modifications
* 5 Endangered sites
* 6 Statistics
* 7 Territorial division
* 8 Criticism
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 External links
World Heritage Committee
Convention concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and
16 November 1972
17 December 1975
UN member states plus the
Cook Islands , the
Holy See ,
Niue , and Palestine )
Director-General of the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Arabic, English, French, Russian, and Spanish
In 1954, the government of
Egypt decided to build the new Aswan High
Dam , whose resulting future reservoir would eventually inundate a
large stretch of the
Nile valley containing cultural treasures of
Egypt and ancient
Nubia . In 1959, the governments of Egypt
UNESCO to assist their countries to protect and
rescue the endangered monuments and sites. In 1960, the
UNESCO launched an appeal to the Member States for
an International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. This appeal
resulted in the excavation and recording of hundreds of sites, the
recovery of thousands of objects, as well as the salvage and
relocation to higher ground of a number of important temples, the most
famous of which are the temple complexes of Abu Simbel and
The campaign, which ended in 1980, was considered a success. As tokens
of its gratitude to countries which especially contributed to the
Egypt donated four temples: the Temple of Dendur
was moved to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the
Temple of Debod was moved to the
Parque del Oeste in Madrid, the
Temple of Taffeh
Temple of Taffeh was moved to the
Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in the
Netherlands, and the
Temple of Ellesyia to
Museo Egizio in Turin.
The project cost $80 million, about $40 million of which was
collected from 50 countries. The project's success led to other
safeguarding campaigns: saving
Venice and its lagoon in Italy, the
Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan, and the
Borobodur Temple Compounds
UNESCO then initiated, with the International Council on
Monuments and Sites , a draft convention to protect the common
cultural heritage of humanity.
CONVENTION AND BACKGROUND
The United States initiated the idea of cultural conservation with
nature conservation. The
White House conference in 1965 called for a
"World Heritage Trust" to preserve "the world's superb natural and
scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the
entire world citizenry". The International Union for Conservation of
Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, and they were presented in
1972 to the
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in
Stockholm . Under the World Heritage Committee, signatory countries
are required to produce and submit periodic data reporting providing
World Heritage Committee with an overview of each participating
nation's implementation of the World Heritage Convention and a
"snapshot" of current conditions at World Heritage properties.
A single text was agreed on by all parties, and the "Convention
Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage"
was adopted by the General Conference of
UNESCO on 16 November 1972.
The Convention came into force on 17 December 1975. As of May 2017,
it has been ratified by 193 states parties, including 189 UN member
states plus the
Cook Islands , the
Holy See ,
Niue , and the
Palestinian territories . Only four
UN member states have not ratified
the Convention: Liechtenstein, Nauru, Somalia and Tuvalu.
A country must first list its significant cultural and natural sites;
the result is called the Tentative List. A country may not nominate
sites that have not been first included on the Tentative List. Next,
it can place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File.
File is evaluated by the International Council on
Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union . These bodies
then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. The
Committee meets once per year to determine whether or not to inscribe
each nominated property on the World Heritage List and sometimes
defers or refers the decision to request more information from the
country which nominated the site. There are ten selection criteria –
a site must meet at least one of them to be included on the list.
Up to 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four
criteria for natural heritage. In 2005, this was modified so that
there is now only one set of ten criteria. Nominated sites must be of
"outstanding universal value" and meet at least one of the ten
criteria. These criteria have been modified or/amended several times
since their creation.
Taj Mahal , an example of cultural heritage site
* "represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural
* "exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of
time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in
architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or
* "to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural
tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has
* "is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural,
or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant
stage in human history"
* "is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement,
land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human
interaction with the environment especially when it has become
vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change"
* "is directly or tangibly associated with events or living
traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary
works of outstanding universal significance"
Serengeti National Park , an example of natural
heritage site Site #274: Historic Sanctuary of
Machu Picchu ,
an example of mixed heritage site
* "contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional
natural beauty and aesthetic importance"
* "is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth's
history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological
processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic
or physiographic features"
* "is an outstanding example representing significant on-going
ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development
of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and
communities of plants and animals"
* "contains the most important and significant natural habitats for
in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those
containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the
point of view of science or conservation"
LEGAL STATUS OF DESIGNATED SITES
UNESCO designation as a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site provides prima facie
evidence that such culturally sensitive sites are legally protected
pursuant to the Law of War, under the
Geneva Convention , its
articles, protocols and customs, together with other treaties
including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property
in the Event of Armed Conflict and international law.
Geneva Convention treaty promulgates:
"Article 53. PROTECTION OF CULTURAL OBJECTS AND OF PLACES OF WORSHIP.
Without prejudice to the provisions of the Hague Convention for the
Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 14
May 1954,' and of other relevant international instruments, it is
(a) To commit any acts of hostility directed against the historic
monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the
cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples; (b) To use such objects in
support of the military effort; (c) To make such objects the object of
EXTENSIONS AND OTHER MODIFICATIONS
A country may request to extend or reduce the boundaries, modify the
official name, or change the selection criteria of one of its already
listed sites. Any proposal for a significant boundary change or modify
the site's selection criteria must be submitted as if it were a new
nomination, including first placing it on the Tentative List and then
onto the Nomination File.
A request for a minor boundary change, one that does not have a
significantly impact on the extent of the property or affect its
"outstanding universal value", is also evaluated by the advisory
bodies before being sent to the Committee. Such proposals can be
rejected by either the advisory bodies or the Committee if they judge
it to be a significant change instead of a minor one.
Proposals to change the site's official name is sent directly to the
List of World Heritage in Danger and Former UNESCO
World Heritage Sites
A site may be added to the
List of World Heritage in Danger if there
are conditions that threaten the characteristics for which the
landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Such
problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters,
pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanization or human
development. This danger list is intended to increase international
awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures.
Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential
dangers that could have adverse effects on a site.
The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is
reviewed on a yearly basis, after which the committee may request
additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats
have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage
in Danger and the World Heritage List.
Only two sites have ever been delisted : the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary
in Oman and the
Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany. The Arabian Oryx
Sanctuary was directly delisted in 2007, instead of first being put on
the danger list, after the Omani government decided to reduce the
protected area's size by 90 percent. The
Dresden Elbe Valley was
first placed on the danger list in 2006 when the World Heritage
Committee decided that plans to construct the Waldschlösschen Bridge
would significantly alter the valley's landscape. In response, the
Dresden City Council attempted to stop the bridge's construction, but
after several court decisions allowed the building of the bridge to
proceed, the valley was removed from the World Heritage List in 2009.
Table of World Heritage Sites by country , List of World
Heritage Sites ,
List of World Heritage in Danger , and List of World
Heritage Sites by year of inscription
There are 1073 World Heritage Sites located in 167 States Party. Of
these, 832 are cultural, 206 are natural and 35 are mixed properties.
World Heritage Committee has divided the world into five
geographic zones which it calls regions: Africa, Arab States, Asia and
the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the
Russia and the
Caucasus states are classified as European, while
Mexico and the Caribbean are classified as belonging to the Latin
America & Caribbean zone, despite their location in North America. The
UNESCO geographic zones also give greater emphasis on administrative,
rather than geographic associations. Hence,
Gough Island , located in
the South Atlantic, is part of the Europe World Heritage listing has
the potential to significantly increase lucrative tourism revenues to
selected sites. Site listing bids are often lengthy and costly putting
poorer countries at a disadvantage. Eritrea's efforts to promote
Asmara reflected one such example.
In 2016 media reports highlighted that the Australian Government had
actively lobbied to have criticism of
Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef conservation
efforts removed from a
UNESCO report titled 'World Heritage and
Tourism in a Changing Climate'. The Australian Government's actions
were in response to concerns about the negative impact that an at risk
label could have on tourism revenues at a previously designated UNESCO
World Heritage site.
List of conservation articles
Lists of World Heritage Sites
UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists
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Germany and Italy bring to 19 the number of sites
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UNESCO World Heritage Sites official sites.
* ^ Monuments of Nubia-International Campaign to Save the Monuments
Nubia Archived 29 April 2009 at the
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* ^ The Rescue of Nubian Monuments and Sites Archived 27 February
2015 at the
Wayback Machine ., UNESCO
* ^ Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and
Natural Heritage: Treaty status Archived 19 July 2013 at the Wayback
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the World Heritage Convention". UNESCO. Archived from the original on
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* ^ "List of World Heritage in Danger". UNESCO. Archived from the
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* ^ "Oman\'s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary: first site ever to be deleted
from UNESCO\'s World Heritage List". UNESCO. Archived from the
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* ^ "Dresden is deleted from UNESCO’s World Heritage List".
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* ^ Vallely, Paul (7 November 2008). "The Big Question: What is a
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* ^ "Modernist masterpieces in unlikely Asmara". The Economist. 20
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* ^ Slezak, Michael (26 May 2016). "Australia scrubbed from UN
climate change report after government intervention". The Guardian.
Archived from the original on 27 October 2016.
* ^ Hasham, Nicole (17 September 2015). "Government spent at least
$400,000 lobbying against
Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef \'danger\' listing". The
Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 28 December