Frequently Asked Questions
This section provides information about the 1972 World Heritage Convention and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. It includes answers to frequently asked questions in the following areas:
- World Heritage/The Convention
- The World Heritage List
- The Nomination of Sites
- World Heritage in Danger
- The World Heritage Fund
- The World Heritage Logo/Emblem
World Heritage/The Convention
World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Places as diverse and unique as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the USA, or the Acropolis in Greece are examples of the 1007 natural and cultural places inscribed on the World Heritage List to date.
Click here to learn more about World Heritage.
What does it mean for a site to be inscribed on the List?
Once a country signs the Convention, and has sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, the resulting prestige often helps raise awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation. Greater awareness leads to a general rise in the level of the protection and conservation given to heritage properties. A country may also receive financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee to support activities for the preservation of its sites.
What is the Convention?
The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is an international agreement that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. It is based on the premise that certain places on Earth are of outstanding universal value and should therefore form part of the common heritage of humankind. The countries who ratify the Convention (States Parties) have become part of an international community, united in a common mission to identify and safeguard our world's most outstanding natural and cultural heritage. While fully respecting the national sovereignty, and without prejudice to property rights provided by national legislation, the States Parties recognize that the protection of the World Heritage is the duty of the international community as a whole.
What are the legal implications of the Convention?
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is a treaty that has become, over the past 40 years, the foremost international legal tool in support of the conservation of the world's cultural and natural heritage. Today, 191 countries (called States Parties) have ratified the Convention, making it an almost universally accepted set of principles and framework of action.
Learn more about the Convention.
Who owns a site once it’s inscribed on the World Heritage List?
The site is the property of the country on whose territory it is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to protect the site for future generations. Its protection and preservation becomes a concern of the international World Heritage community as a whole.
How is a site inscribed on the List?
A site goes through a nomination process before being considered for inscription by the World Heritage Committee. A site can be proposed for inscription only by the country in which the property is located.
Who nominates sites?
Countries (or States Parties) submit nomination proposals to the World Heritage Committee. If the Committee determines, based on the recommendations of its Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN), that the nomination meets at least one of the necessary criteria, then the property proposed by the State Party is inscribed on the World Heritage List. In general, the Committee adds about 25-30 sites per year to the list. Today there are 1007 sites on the list, located in 161 countries around the world. For more information please refer to the Operational Guidelines.
What are the criteria for nominating a site?
There are 10 criteria for the nomination of World Heritage Sites. Click here to see them in detail.
Where can I send a recommendation?
If you have a suggestion for a World Heritage site, you may wish to send your proposal to the UNESCO National Commission in the country concerned. To see the contact details of the National Commission, click on the name of the country in the list of States Parties.
Where can I send a letter of concern about a threat to a World Heritage site, or a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger?
The World Heritage Committee relies on citizens to play an active role in protecting World Heritage sites. If you have any concern about an existing site, do not hesitate to contact the National Commission of the country in charge of the site. To see the contact details of the National Commission, click on the name of the country in the list of States Parties.
You may also contact the World Heritage Centre
How can I contribute to the World Heritage Fund?
The World Heritage Fund, created in 1972 by the World Heritage Convention, receives most of its income from compulsory contributions from countries (States Parties), and from voluntary contributions. The total received each year is just under US$4 million, a modest sum considering the magnitude of world heritage needs.
Donations are important. Your donation can help make preservation of our world’s most precious sites possible. Click here to make a donation.
How is the Fund used?
The World Heritage Fund is used to provide international assistance to States Parties in the following areas: preparatory assistance for the nomination of sites, training activities, technical cooperation, emergency assistance, or promotional and educational activities.
Which universities offer World Heritage programmes?
Following are universities that include specialized study of World Heritage issues. You can consult the Education section of this website to learn how to contact the universities directly for more information.
- Cameroon: Ecole de faune de Garoua/Garoua Wildlife School
- United Republic of Tanzania: Mweka College of African Wildlife Management
Asia and the Pacific
- Japan: Tsukuba University
- Australia: Deakin University (Melbourne)
Europe and North America
- Germany: Brandenburger University of Technology, Cottbus (BTU)
- Ireland: University College Dublin (UCD)
Russian Federation: Moscow State M.V. Lomonosov University
What is “World Heritage in Young Hands”?
Launched in 1994 at the grassroots level by the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, this Project gives young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of the world’s natural and cultural heritage.
The World Heritage in Young Hands education kit includes student activities and photographs of World Heritage sites from all regions of the world. It is published in more than 39 languages. Click here to learn more about the education kit.
How can I obtain/use photos of World Heritage sites?
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is not a photobank.
The photos that appear on the World Heritage website, in the photo galleries for each World Heritage site, were generously donated by photographers to help raise awareness of the importance of the World Heritage Convention. They are for educational use, but not for commercial distribution.
Therefore, these photos are not part of the public domain and are protected by international copyright laws. They cannot be used for commercial purposes.
For many World Heritage sites, it is possible to find images free of charge on photography websites.
I am a photographer; how can I propose my services to UNESCO, or sell my photos to UNESCO?
UNESCO does not purchase photographs from private individuals, professional photographers or agencies.
UNESCO does however, favour partnerships with photographic institutions that promote the World Heritage Convention and the preservation of World Heritage sites.
UNESCO is also happy to accept the generous donations of photographs which are extremely useful in raising awareness of the importance of World Heritage preservation among the public.
These pictures must:
- have been taken within the defined limits of the World Heritage site, and represent as accurately as possible the outstanding universal value of the site
- include a caption and the date they were taken
- be in .jpg or .tif format, and in high definition (300 dpi, minimum 2480x3508 pixels) for potential use in UNESCO publications. (The photos shown on the World Heritage Centre website are in low definition in order to prevent unauthorized downloading)
The donor signs a standard non-exclusive cession rights form which recognizes his or her ownership of the work, while allowing UNESCO the right to use it.
UNESCO indicates the photographer/copyright holder any time a photo is used, in any form.
For more information about donating photos, please write to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there any free publications or brochures on World Heritage?
A wide range of books, manuals and reports about World Heritage for adults and young people are available for purchase or download on this website, in several languages.
You may download and print a free general information kit about World Heritage in English, French or Spanish from this website, as well as other brochures and materials.
If you would like to receive a general information kit or other materials, please send your name, address and language preference (English, French, Spanish) to the address below.
World Heritage Centre
7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP
Tel.: 33 (01) 45 68 16 60
Fax: 33 (01) 45 68 55 70
How can I subscribe to the World Heritage Review?
The UNESCO World Heritage Review is a glossy, colour, quarterly publication featuring in-depth articles and news on World Heritage sites with maps and striking photographs.
Can I use the World Heritage logo in brochures, ads or in other media?
Use of the World Heritage emblem, or logo, is strictly regulated and determined by the World Heritage Committee, with guidelines for its use defined in Chapter 8 of the Operational Guidelines. Please note that before using the World Heritage logo in any form, authorization from the appropriate UNESCO National Commission is required. Click here for more information regarding the use of the World Heritage emblem.
The World Heritage PACT, or Partnerships for Conservation Initiative, was launched by the World Heritage Committee in 2002 for the implementation of sustainable partnerships to support and reinforce cooperation necessary for the protection of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Who are the partners?
The World Heritage Centre is constantly concluding partnerships with new partners in order to ensure the preservation of natural and cultural diversity in the long term. These partners include States Parties, Advisory Bodies, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, the private sector and the media.
Click here to see the list of our partners and their actions to support projects.
What are the current projects?
In the interest of world heritage conservation, the World Heritage Centre and its partners have developed a series of programmes and are actively involved in the implementation of projects, workshops, seminars and training courses. Click here to find out more about some of the ongoing projects.
How can I become a partner?
PACT offers different possibilities for partnerships, notably the adoption or sponsorship of a World Heritage site, support for existing programmes and the development of educational awareness raising as well as support for activities in local and international communities.
For more information on current projects and areas of cooperation or how to become a partner in the conservation of world heritage, please contact:
How can I work or do an internship at UNESCO's World Heritage Centre?
How can I volunteer at a World Heritage site?
Every year, thousands of volunteers participate in restoration and research projects at World Heritage sites around the globe. Innumerable opportunities exist for volunteers to focus their efforts on helping environmental watchdogs, nature conservationists or architectural restorers at sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, as well as assisting researchers with scientific studies in ecology, zoology, archaeology, and other relevant disciplines (e.g. anthropology, economics, social studies, etc.)
Click here for more information about volunteer opportunities.