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World Heritage
POLICY COMPENDIUM

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1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Preamble

"(…) It is essential (…) to adopt new provisions in the form of a convention establishing an effective system of collective protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value, (…)."

Article 7

"For the purpose of this Convention, international protection of the world cultural and natural heritage shall be understood to mean the establishment of a system of international co-operation and assistance designed to support States Parties to the Convention in their efforts to conserve and identify that heritage."

Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

1. “(…) [The World Heritage Convention] is an integral part of UNESCO’s overarching mandate to foster equitable sustainable development and to promote peace and security (…)”.

3. “By identifying, protecting, conserving, presenting and transmitting to present and future generations irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage properties of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), the World Heritage Convention, in itself, contributes significantly to sustainable development and the wellbeing of people At the same time, strengthening the three dimensions of sustainable development that are environmental sustainability, inclusive social development, and inclusive economic development, as well as the fostering of peace and security may bring benefits to World Heritage properties and support their OUV, if carefully integrated within their conservation and management systems”.

8. “In applying a sustainable development perspective within the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, States Parties should also recognize the close links and interdependence of biological diversity and local cultures within the socio-ecological systems of many World Heritage properties. These have often developed over time through mutual adaptation between humans and the environment, interacting with and affecting one another in complex ways, and are fundamental components of the resilience of communities. This suggests that any policy aiming to achieve sustainable development will necessarily have to take into consideration the interrelationship of biological diversity with the local cultural context”.

9. “All dimensions of sustainable development should apply to natural, cultural and mixed properties in their diversity. These dimensions are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, with none having predominance over another and each being equally necessary. States Parties should therefore review and reinforce governance frameworks within management systems of World Heritage properties in order to achieve the appropriate balance, integration and harmonization between the protection of OUV and the pursuit of sustainable development objectives. This will include the full respect and participation of all stakeholders and rights holders, including indigenous peoples and local communities, the setting up of effective inter-institutional coordination mechanisms and provisions for the systematic assessment of environmental, social, and economic impacts of all proposed developments, as well as effective monitoring through continuity in data collection against agreed indicators”.

Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  Policy for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (WHC-15/20.GA/INF.13)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Paragraph 4

“The cultural and natural heritage is among the priceless and irreplaceable assets, not only of each nation, but of humanity as a whole. The loss, through deterioration or disappearance, of any of these most prized assets constitutes an impoverishment of the heritage of all the peoples of the world. Parts of that heritage, because of their exceptional qualities, can be considered to be of “Outstanding Universal Value” and as such worthy of special protection against the dangers which increasingly threaten them.”

Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Paragraph 7

“The [World Heritage] Convention aims at the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value.”
Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Paragraph 14

“States Parties are encouraged to bring together their cultural and natural heritage experts at regular intervals to discuss the implementation of the Convention. States Parties may wish to involve representatives of the Advisory Bodies and other experts as appropriate.”
Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Paragraph 25

“In order to facilitate the implementation of the Convention, the Committee develops Strategic Objectives, (…) to ensure that new threats placed on World Heritage are addressed effectively.”
Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1 - General

Paragraph 26

"The current Strategic Objectives (also referred to as “the 5 Cs”) are the following:

1. Strengthen the Credibility of the World Heritage List:
2. Ensure the effective Conservation of World Heritage Properties;
3. Promote the development of effective Capacity-building in States Parties:
4. Increase public awareness, involvement and support for World Heritage through Communication;
5. Enhance the role of Communities in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention."
Theme:  1.1.1 - General
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee

Article 8

1. An Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, called "the World Heritage Committee", is hereby established within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It shall be composed of 15 States Parties to the Convention, elected by States Parties to the Convention meeting in general assembly during the ordinary session of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The number of States members of the Committee shall be increased to 21 as from the date of the ordinary session of the General Conference following the entry into force of this Convention for at least 40 States.

2. Election of members of the Committee shall ensure an equitable representation of the different regions and cultures of the world.

3. A representative of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (Rome Centre), a representative of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and a representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), to whom may be added, at the request of States Parties to the Convention meeting in general assembly during the ordinary sessions of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, representatives of other intergovernmental or non-governmental organizations, with similar objectives, may attend the meetings of the Committee in an advisory capacity.


Article 9

3. States members of the Committee shall choose as their representatives persons qualified in the field of the cultural or natural heritage.

Theme:  1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee
Source:  Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee

"Members of the World Heritage Committee may stand again for election after a gap of 6 years after the expiry of their mandate."
Theme:  1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee
Decision:  1EXTGA 3

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee

14. "[The World Heritage Committee] recommends Committee members consider refraining from bringing forward new nominations that might be discussed during their term serving on the Committee, without prejudice to nomination files already submitted, deferred or referred during previous Committee sessions, or nominations from least represented States Parties (…)."
Theme:  1.1.2 - World Heritage Committee
Decision:  35COM 12B

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.3 - Funding

Article 13.6

The Committee shall decide on the use of the resources of the Fund established under Article 15 of this Convention. It shall seek ways of increasing these resources and shall take all useful steps to this end.

Article 15

1. A Fund for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, called "the World Heritage Fund", is hereby established.

4. Contributions to the Fund and other forms of assistance made available to the Committee may be used only for such purposes as the Committee shall define. The Committee may accept contributions to be used only for a certain programme or project, provided that the Committee shall have decided on the implementation of such programme or project. No political conditions may be attached to contributions made to the Fund.

Article 16

1. Without prejudice to any supplementary voluntary contribution, the States Parties to this Convention undertake to pay regularly, every two years, to the World Heritage Fund, contributions, the amount of which, in the form of a uniform percentage applicable to all States, shall be determined by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention, meeting during the sessions of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (…).

Theme:  1.1.3 - Funding
Source:  Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.3 - Funding

7. Takes note of the options proposed for allocating unrestricted supplementary voluntary contributions to the World Heritage Fund and, in order to help towards the sustainability of the World Heritage Fund, recommends to States Parties willing to make these contributions to apply one of the following options:

  • Option 1: Increasing the standard percentage used in the calculation of the contributions to the World Heritage Fund from 1% to 2%.
Theme:  1.1.3 - Funding
Decision:  19GA 8

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.3 - Funding

4. “[The World Heritage Committee] encourages the World Heritage Centre to develop bilateral agreements with States Parties as well as partnerships with multilateral organisations, the private sector and other actors with a view to securing additional resources for the following priorities:

(i) Reinforcement of the staff of the World Heritage Centre,

(ii) Emergency International Assistance,

(iii) International Assistance to properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger,

(iv) Other International Assistance to States Parties, with priority to Preparatory Assistance,

(v) Funds to ensure that the Advisory Bodies have sufficient resources to enable them fulfill their obligations under the Convention”.
Theme:  1.1.3 - Funding
Decision:  27COM 11.3

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.3 - Funding

6. Emphasizing the urgency of securing adequate financial resources to achieve the objectives of the 1972 Conventionto identify and, in particular, to conserve the world's cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, especially in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and unprecedented threats such as climate change, natural disasters, and deliberate attacks on cultural heritage in territories affected by armed conflicts and terrorism.

8. Underscoring that sustainability of the World Heritage Fund and overall funding for World Heritage are a strategic issue and a shared responsibility which concerns States Parties and relevant partners, affecting the overall credibility of the World Heritage Convention, including effectiveness and efficiency of World Heritage protection.

17. [The World Heritage Committee] underscores that the highest ethical standards and principles must be upheld in all measures to enhance fundraising to maintain and promote the integrity of the Convention.

Theme:  1.1.3 - Funding
Decision:  41COM 14

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.1 - Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.3 - Funding

2. [The World Heritage Committee] highlight[s] the priority that should be given to conservation and management of World Heritage properties, takes note of the efforts made and progress achieved in this regard by increasing the proportion of the World Heritage Fund dedicated to conservation for the latest biennia and encourages further increase of this proportion, as appropriate; 

4. [The World Heritage Committee] recalls that the payment of compulsory and assessed voluntary contributions is, as per Article 16 of the World Heritage Convention, an obligation incumbent on all States Parties which have ratified the Convention (…).
Theme:  1.1.3 - Funding
Decision:  42COM 14

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes

28. “Sustainable development and the conservation of the world’s cultural and natural heritage are undermined by war, civil conflict and all forms of violence. The World Heritage Convention is an integral part of UNESCO’s established mandate to build bridges towards peace and security. It is therefore incumbent upon States Parties, in conformity also with provisions of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (The 1954 Hague Convention) and its two (1954 and 1999) Protocols, for the States that have ratified them, as well as in accordance with the UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage (2003) and international customary law protecting cultural property in the event of armed conflict, to ensure that the implementation of the World Heritage Convention is used to promote the achievement and maintenance of peace and security between and within States Parties”.

29. “Recalling also the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001), States Parties should therefore acknowledge the reality of cultural diversity within and around many World Heritage properties, and promote a culturally pluralistic approach in strategies for their conservation and management. (…)”.

Theme:  1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
Source:  Policy for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (WHC-15/20.GA/INF.13)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes

Paragraph 41

“The World Heritage Committee recognizes the benefits of closer co-ordination of its work with other UNESCO programmes and their relevant Conventions (…)”.
Theme:  1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes

Paragraph 42

“The World Heritage Committee with the support of the Secretariat will ensure appropriate coordination and information-sharing between the World Heritage Convention and other Conventions, programmes and international organizations related to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage.”
Theme:  1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes

Paragraph 44

Selected global Conventions and programmes relating to the protection of cultural and natural heritage

UNESCO Conventions and Programmes
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
Protocol I (1954)
Protocol II (1999)
Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)

Other Conventions

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar) (1971)
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (1973)
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) (1979)
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (1982)
Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (Rome, 1995)
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (New York, 1992)
Theme:  1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

1 - General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes

7. "[The General Assembly] urges the States Parties to participate in the United Nations climate change conferences with a view to achieving a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement, and to fund and support the research needs as identified in the adopted Policy document."
Theme:  1.2 - UNESCO standard-setting texts and synergies with other Conventions and Programmes
Decision:  16GA 10
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1.1.1 - General
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1.3.1 - General
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1.3.3 - Regional cooperation
1.4 - Heritage policies at national level
1.5 - Relation between culture and nature
2.1 - Nominations to the World Heritage List
2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and ...
2.2.2.1 - General
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2.2.3 - Authenticity
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2.2.5.1 - General
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2.2.5.3 - Management systems
2.2.5.4 - Sustainable use
2.2.5.5 - Impact assessment
2.2.6.1 - Boundaries
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2.2.6.4 - Significant modifications to the boundaries
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2.4 - Upstream Process
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2.6 - Comparative studies
2.7.1 - Cultural, Natural and Mixed Properties
2.7.2 - Transboundary and transnational properties
2.7.3 - Serial properties
2.7.4.1 - General
2.7.4.2 - Historic Urban Landscapes
3.1 - Protection, conservation and management of World ...
3.2.1 - General
3.2.2 - Periodic Reporting
3.2.3 - Reactive Monitoring
3.2.4 - List of World Heritage in Danger
3.2.5 - Deletion of a World Heritage property from the ...
3.3 - Impact assessments
3.4 - Disaster risks management
3.5.1 - Buildings and development
3.5.2 - Transportation infrastructure
3.5.3 - Utilities or service infrastructure
3.5.4 - Pollution
3.5.5 - Biological resource use/modification
3.5.6 - Physical resource extraction
3.5.7 - Local conditions affecting the fabric
3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
3.5.9 - Other human activities
3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
3.5.11 - Sudden ecological or geological events
3.5.12 - Invasive/alien species or hyper-abundant ...
3.5.13 - Management and institutional factors
3.6 - Tourism and visitor management
3.7 - Sustainable development
4.1 - General capacity-building policies
4.2 - Global capacity-building strategy
5.1 - Education and awareness-raising
5.2 - Interpretation
5.3 - World Heritage emblem
6.1 - Participation of local communities and other ...
6.2 - Human rights and rights-based approach
6.3 - Gender equality
6.4 - Indigenous peoples
6.5 - Youth
6.6 - Fostering of peace and security