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Policy Compendium

Themes2.7.4.1 - Generalclose2.2.6.3 - Minor modifications to the boundariesclose2.2.5.2 - Legislative, regulatory and contractual measures for protectionclose2.2.6 - Boundaries and buffer zonesclose2.2.2 - World Heritage criteriaclose2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributesclose2.2 - Outstanding Universal Valueclose
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2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value

Paragraph 49

“Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole. The Committee defines the criteria for the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List.”

Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value

Paragraph 78

“To be deemed of Outstanding Universal Value, a property must also meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity and must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding.”

Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value

3. "[The World Heritage Committee], conscious that outstanding universal value is a concept that shall embrace all cultures, regions and peoples, and does not ignore differing cultural interpretations of outstanding universal value because they originate from minorities, indigenous groups and/or local peoples,

4. Recognises that the identification of outstanding universal value on the basis of the established criteria needs to be analysed also in their cultural and natural context, and that in some instances, the tangible and intangible interpretations cannot be separated."

Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Decision: 30 COM 9
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
9. "[The World Heritage Committee] reinforces the rigorous, objective and consistent application of the three key tests to determine Outstanding Universal Value as set out in the Operational Guidelines:

a) the property must meet one or more of the 10 criteria (Paragraph 77);

b) the property must meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity (Paragraphs 79/95); and

c) the property must have an adequate protection and management system in place to ensure its safeguarding (Paragraph 78)."

Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Decision: 32 COM 9
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value

3. "[The World Heritage Committee considers that], in compliance with the Convention and the Operational Guidelines, Outstanding Universal Value is recognised at the time of inscription of a property on the World Heritage List and that no recognition of Outstanding Universal Value is foreseen prior to this stage (…)."

Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Decision: 42 COM 8
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
5. "[The World Heritage Committee] Also recalling that the Operational Guidelines set out the conditions for inscription on the World Heritage List, strongly reiterates that only meeting criteria is not enough to warrant inscription, as to be deemed of Outstanding Universal Value a site must also meet the conditions of integrity (and authenticity) and must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding, as outlined in paragraph 78 of the Operational Guidelines;"
Theme: 2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributes
Decision: 43 COM 8
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
2.2.5 - Protection and management

Paragraph 98

“Legislative and regulatory measures at national and local levels should assure the protection of the property from social, economic and other pressures or changes that might negatively impact the Outstanding Universal Value, including the integrity and/or authenticity of the property. States Parties should also assure the full and effective implementation of such measures.”
Theme: 2.2.5.2 - Legislative, regulatory and contractual measures for protection
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
2.2.6 - Boundaries and buffer zones

Paragraph 163

“A minor modification is one which has not a significant impact on the extent of the property nor affects its Outstanding Universal Value.”

Theme: 2.2.6.3 - Minor modifications to the boundaries
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
2.2.6 - Boundaries and buffer zones

Paragraph 164

“If a State Party wishes to request a minor modification to the boundaries of a property already on the World Heritage List, it must be prepared in compliance with the format of Annex 11 and must be received by 1 February by the Committee through the Secretariat, which will seek the evaluation of the relevant Advisory Bodies on whether this can be considered a minor modification or not. The Secretariat shall then submit the Advisory Bodies’ evaluation to the World Heritage Committee. The Committee may approve such a modification, or it may consider that the modification to the boundary is sufficiently significant as to constitute a significant boundary modification of the property, in which case the procedure for new nominations will apply.”

Theme: 2.2.6.3 - Minor modifications to the boundaries
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties
2.7.4 - Cultural Landscapes

Paragraph 47

"47. Cultural landscapes inscribed on the World Heritage List are cultural properties and represent the “combined works of nature and of man” designated in Article 1 of the Convention. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal.

They should be selected on the basis both of their Outstanding Universal Value and of their representativity in terms of a clearly defined geo-cultural region. They should be selected also for their capacity to illustrate the essential and distinct cultural elements of such regions.

The term “cultural landscape” embraces a diversity of manifestations of the interaction between humankind and the natural environment.

Cultural landscapes often reflect specific techniques of sustainable land use, considering the characteristics and limits of the natural environment they are established in, and may reflect a specific spiritual relationship to nature. Protection of cultural landscapes can contribute to current techniques of sustainable land use and can maintain or enhance natural values in the landscape. The continued existence of traditional forms of land use supports biological diversity in many regions of the world. The protection of traditional cultural landscapes is therefore helpful in maintaining biological diversity".
Theme: 2.7.4.1 - General
Source: WHC.21/01 Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.21/01 2021)
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties
2.7.4 - Cultural Landscapes
Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage committee recommends addressing landscape surveys and the historic evolution of the landscape, as a holistic reflection of history and cultural traditions and of the interaction between culture and nature, including the way the landscape has been shaped by human practices and natural resources (based on Case law on decisions on Nominations).
Theme: 2.7.4.1 - General
See for examples Decisions:  31 COM 8B.33 31 COM 8B.28

The World Heritage Policy Compendium was elaborated thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Australia.

The World Heritage Policy Compendium On-line tool was developed thanks to the generous contribution of the Government of Korea.


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