Policy Compendium

Themes2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zonesclose2.2.5.4 - Sustainable useclose2.7.3 - Serial propertiesclose2.2.5 - Protection and managementclose2.2.2 - World Heritage criteriaclose2.2.1 - Outstanding Universal Value: definition and attributesclose2.6 - Comparative studiesclose
Select source(s): 0
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 119

“World Heritage properties may sustain biological and cultural diversity and provide ecosystem services and other benefits, which may contribute to environmental and cultural sustainability. Properties may support a variety of ongoing and proposed uses that are ecologically and culturally sustainable and which may enhance the quality of life and well-being of communities concerned. The State Party and its partners must ensure their use is equitable and fully respects the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. For some properties, human use would not be appropriate. Legislation, policies and strategies affecting World Heritage properties should ensure the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value, support the wider conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and promote and encourage the effective, inclusive and equitable participation of the communities, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders concerned with the property as necessary conditions to its sustainable protection, conservation, management and presentation.”

Theme: 2.2.5.4 - Sustainable use
Source: OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.19/01 - 10 July 2019)
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
2.2.6 - Boundaries and buffer zones
"21. [The World Heritage Committee] (u)rges States Parties, with the support of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to:
a) Incorporate well-designed buffer zones based on a holistic understanding of natural as well as human induced factors affecting the property, supported by reinforcing relevant legal, policy, awareness and incentive mechanisms, into new nominations and where appropriate into existing properties to ensure enhanced protection of World Heritage properties,
b) Place particular emphasis on strategic environmental assessment and impact assessments for potential projects within buffer zones to avoid, negative impacts on OUV from developments and activities in these zones,
c) Develop buffer zone protection and management regimes that optimize the capture and sharing of benefits to communities to support the aspirations of the 2015 Policy for the integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention,
d) Ensure buffer zones are supported by appropriate protection and management regimes in line with the property’s OUV, that build connectivity with the wider setting in cultural, environmental and landscape terms."
Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
Decision: 44 COM 7.2
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.2 - Outstanding Universal Value
2.2.6 - Boundaries and buffer zones

Paragraph 103

“Wherever necessary for the proper protection of the property, an adequate buffer zone should be provided.”

Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
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 104

“For the purposes of effective protection of the nominated property, a buffer zone is an area surrounding the nominated property which has complementary legal and/or customary restrictions placed on its use and development to give an added layer of protection to the property. This should include the immediate setting of the nominated property, important views and other areas or attributes that are functionally important as a support to the property and its protection. The area constituting the buffer zone should be determined in each case through appropriate mechanisms. Details on the size, characteristics and authorized uses of a buffer zone, as well as a map indicating the precise boundaries of the property and its buffer zone, should be provided in the nomination.”

Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
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 105

“A clear explanation of how the buffer zone protects the property should also be provided.”

Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
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 106

“Where no buffer zone is proposed, the nomination should include a statement as to why a buffer zone is not required.”

Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
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 107

“Although buffer zones are not part of the nominated property, any modifications to or creation of buffer zones subsequent to inscription of a property on the World Heritage List should be approved by the World Heritage Committee using the procedure for a minor boundary modification (see paragraph 164 and Annex 11). The creation of buffer zones subsequent to inscription is normally considered to be a minor boundary modification.”

Theme: 2.2.6.2 - Buffer Zones
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

Paragraph 132

3. Justification for Inscription

“[For a nomination to be considered as “complete”, the following requirements (see format in Annex 5) are to be met:] (…) In section 3.2, a comparative analysis of the nominated property in relation to similar properties, whether or not on the World Heritage List, both at the national and international levels, shall be provided. The comparative analysis shall explain the importance of the nominated property in its national and international context."

Theme: 2.6 - Comparative studies
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
(ii) "In its justification of the outstanding universal value of the property nominated, each State should, whenever possible, undertake a sufficiently wide comparison."
Theme: 2.6 - Comparative studies
Decision: 3 COM XI.35
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List

III. COMPARATIVE ANALYSES

7. "[The World Heritage Committee] decides that comparative analyses by States Parties as part of the nomination dossier shall be undertaken in relation to similar properties, whether or not on the World Heritage List, both at the national and international levels."

Theme: 2.6 - Comparative studies
Decision: 7 EXT.COM 4A
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee recommends undertaking a deep comparative analysis in order to demonstrate the Outstanding Universal Value of the property by fully assessing the relative values of the nominated property against other sites (based on Case law on decisions on Nominations).
Theme: 2.6 - Comparative studies
See for examples Decisions:  34 COM 8B.7 34 COM 8B.3 35 COM 8B.16 36 COM 8B.35 37 COM 8B.21 37 COM 8B.17 37 COM 8B.11 38 COM 8B.22 38 COM 8B.18 38 COM 8B.17
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties
Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee requests to ensure the management of a serial property as a unified whole, with an effective and explicit operational coordination between management plans existing for individual component parts of the site and the overall management plan for the property (based on case law on decisions on Nomination).
Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
See for examples Decisions:  40 COM 8B.16 43 COM 8B.38 44 COM 8B.25 44 COM 8B.15
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties

Paragraph 137

“Serial properties will include two or more component parts related by clearly defined links:

a) Component parts should reflect cultural, social or functional links over time that provide, where relevant, landscape, ecological, evolutionary or habitat connectivity.

b) Each component part should contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property as a whole in a substantial, scientific, readily defined and discernible way, and may include, inter alia, intangible attributes. The resulting Outstanding Universal Value should be easily understood and communicated.

c) Consistently, and in order to avoid an excessive fragmentation of component parts, the process of nomination of the property, including the selection of the component parts, should take fully into account the overall manageability and coherence of the property (see paragraph 114).

and provided it is the series as a whole – and not necessarily the individual parts of it – which are of Outstanding Universal Value.”

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
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

Paragraph 138

“A serial nominated property may occur:

a) on the territory of a single State Party (serial national property); or

b) within the territory of different States Parties, which need not be contiguous and is nominated with the consent of all States Parties concerned (serial transnational property).”

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
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

Paragraph 139

“Serial nominations, whether from one State Party or multiple States, may be submitted for evaluation over several nomination cycles, provided that the first property nominated is of Outstanding Universal Value in its own right. States Parties planning serial nominations phased over several nomination cycles are encouraged to inform the Committee of their intention in order to ensure better planning.”

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
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

35. (i) “States Parties may propose in one single nomination several individual cultural properties, which may be in different geographical locations but which should:

- be linked because they belong to the same historic-cultural group, or

- be the subject of a single safeguarding project, or

- belong to the same type of property characteristic of the zone

(…)

Each State Party submits only the cultural properties situated on its territory (even if these properties belong to an ensemble which goes beyond its borders) but it may come to an agreement with another State Party in order to make a joint submission”.

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
Decision: 3 COM XI.35
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties

19. "(...) 

(e) States Parties may propose in a single nomination a series of cultural properties in different geographical locations, provided that they are related because they belong : (i) to the same historico-cultural group or (ii) to the same type of property which is characteristic of the geographical zone and provided that it is the series as such and not its components taken individually, which is of outstanding universal value."

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
Decision: 4 COM VI.18-20
2 - Policies Regarding CREDIBILITY of the World Heritage List
2.7 - Types of World Heritage properties

2. "[The World Heritage Committee notes] that some large complex serial transnational nominations may benefit from an agreed nomination strategy before their official submission, (…);

5. [The World Heritage Committee] emphasizes that, if and when, it takes note of a nomination strategy, this is not prejudicial and does not imply that the complex serial transnational nominations proposed would necessarily lead to an inscription on the World Heritage List."

Theme: 2.7.3 - Serial properties
Decision: 41 COM 8B.50

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