1 General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention
1.2 UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
3 Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties
3.5 Factors affecting properties
3.5.8 Social/cultural uses of heritage
3.6 Tourism and visitor management
The World Heritage Convention, adopted in 1972, is a legally binding instrument providing an intergovernmental framework for international cooperation for the identification and conservation of the world's most outstanding natural and cultural properties.
The Convention sets out the duties of States Parties in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. By ratifying the Convention, each country enters in a system of international cooperation to protect the world cultural and natural heritage and pledges to conserve the World Heritage sites situated on its territory. The States Parties are encouraged to integrate the protection of cultural and natural heritage into regional planning programmes, set up staff and services at their sites, undertake scientific and technical conservation research and adopt measures that give this heritage a function in community day-to-day life.
The Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee are ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The General Policies of the Convention theme includes policies related to the overarching framework of the Convention; the links with other standard-setting instruments, cooperation among States and implementation of the Convention at the national level.
Conservation of cultural and natural heritage is at the core of the Convention. Conservation includes effective and active measures that can be taken by States Parties to ensure the identification, protection, presentation and transmission of heritage.
There is no single definition of conservation in relation to both cultural and natural heritage. However, with regards to cultural heritage ‘all operations designed to understand a property, know its history and meaning, ensure its material safeguard, and, if required, its restoration and enhancement’ could be part of its conservation (Nara Document on Authenticity). Conservation of natural heritage refers to the protection, care, management and maintenance of ecosystems, habitats, wildlife species and populations, within or outside of their natural environments, in order to safeguard the natural conditions for their long-term permanence (IUCN).
The Conservation theme includes policies related to protection, management, monitoring, impact assessments, factors affecting the properties, tourism and sustainable development.
Social factors that contribute to deterioration processes of the fabric of heritage sites. Some uses might have a positive impact as they enhance certain values (eg ritual, religious) while others might compromise ascribed values and could lead to the deterioration of the heritage place.
Ritual/spiritual/religious and associative uses (For example: Ritual/spiritual/religious uses and associations, Festivals/performances). Society’s valuing of heritage (For example: Changes in values leading to new uses of heritage resources, Expansions of / additions to current uses of heritage resources, Conflicting values, Abandonment). Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting. Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system (For example: Loss of traditional knowledge and practices linked to heritage). Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community (For example: Changes to identity and social cohesion, Changes in livelihood, Migration to or from site, Changes in local population and community). Impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation (For example: Inappropriate/non-existent interpretation, High levels of visitation, Increase of vendors inside/outside site, Building community support, sustainable livelihoods).