Tuesday, May 5, 2015

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Criteria and Site State of Preservation


"The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity."

"Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on
 to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both 
irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration."


UNESCO World Heritage Site:  Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.   Image Courtesy of Megumi Takimoto and UNESCO World Heritage.
UNESCO World Heritage Site:
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Image Courtesy of Megumi Takimoto and UNESCO World Heritage.
  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
  2. to exhibit 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 landscape design;
  3. to bear an unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
    1.  The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  8. to be outstanding examples 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;
  9. to be outstanding examples 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;
  10. to contain 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.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Stone Circles of Senegambia, Gambia. Image Courtesy of UNESCO World Heritage.
UNESCO World Heritage Site:
 Stone Circles of Senegambia, Gambia.
Image Courtesy of UNESCO World Heritage.
  • Periodic Reporting
    • "Every six years, the States Parties are invited to submit to the World Heritage Committee a periodic report on the application of the World Heritage Convention, including the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties located on its territories."
    • Intended to serve four main purposes:
      • "to provide an assessment of the application of the World Heritage Convention by the State Party;
      • to provide an assessment as to whether the World Heritage values of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List are being maintained over time;
      • to provide up-dated information about the World Heritage properties to record the changing circumstances and state of conservation of the properties;
      • to provide a mechanism for regional co-operation and exchange of information and experiences between State Parties concerning the implementation of the Convention and World Heritage conservation."
  • What is Reactive monitoring?
    • "is defined in the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention as being "the reporting by the World Heritage Centre, other sectors of UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of specific World Heritage properties that are under threat". Reactive monitoring is foreseen in the procedures for the inclusion of properties in the List of World Heritage in Danger and for the removal of properties from the World Heritage List. States Parties to the Convention are invited to inform the Committee, through the World Heritage Centre, of their intention to undertake or to authorize in an area protected under the Convention major restorations or new constructions which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Notice should be given as soon as possible (for instance, before drafting basic documents for specific projects) and before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse, so that the Committee may assist in seeking appropriate solutions to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is fully preserved."
    • What properties are reported on?
      • The properties to be reported upon are selected, among all those inscribed on the World Heritage List, according to the following considerations:
        • Properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
        • Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List for which state of conservation reports and/or reactive monitoring missions were requested by the World Heritage Committee at previous sessions; 
        • Properties which have come under threat since the last session of the World Heritage Committee and which require urgent actions in addition to the consultations and discussions which normally take place between the State Party, the Word Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in order to address the threat;
        • Properties where, upon inscription, follow-up was requested by the World Heritage Committee.
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