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World Heritage
POLICY COMPENDIUM

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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

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

Paragraph 122

"122. The Preliminary Assessment is a mandatory desk-based process for all sites that may be nominated to the World Heritage List and is undertaken following a request by the relevant State(s) Party(ies). Information included in the Preliminary Assessment request should build on the information provided in the Tentative List and also on any Upstream Process advice and/or Preparatory Assistance and its outcome must be provided at least one year before a full nomination dossier can be submitted by the State(s) Party(ies).

In particular:

a) The Preliminary Assessment provides States Parties with an opportunity for enhanced dialogue with the Advisory Bodies, and it will help to establish the feasibility of a potential nomination and avoid the use of resources in the preparation of nominations that may be unlikely to succeed. 

b) The Preliminary Assessment provides guidance on the potential of a site to justify Outstanding Universal Value, including integrity and/or authenticity, and, if information is provided, on the requirements for protection and management. The decision to prepare a full nomination dossier, regardless of the outcome of the Preliminary Assessment, will rest with the concerned State(s) Party(ies).

c) States Parties shall submit their Preliminary Assessment request to the World Heritage Centre according to the timetable set in paragraph 168, and using the standard format provided in Annex 3. The request shall be submitted in English or French, in paper and electronic formats (Word and/or PDF format) and in the required number of printed copies (same as for nomination dossiers): 2 identical copies for cultural and natural sites, and 3 identical copies for mixed sites and cultural landscapes.

d) On receipt of Preliminary Assessment requests from States Parties, the Secretariat will acknowledge receipt, check for completeness (in compliance with Annex 3) and register them. The Secretariat will forward, according to the timetable set in paragraph 168, complete Preliminary Assessment requests to the relevant Advisory Body(ies) for desk review. If necessary, the Advisory Body(ies) will request any additional information from the State(s) Party(ies), which should be submitted to the Secretariat. From the commencement of the Preliminary Assessment, the Advisory Body(ies) will initiate a dialogue with the concerned State(s) Party(ies) to establish a point of contact and agree on the process of exchange. States Parties are encouraged to appoint a technical focal point to ensure that dialogue is effective throughout the process, and to ensure that the conclusions of the Preliminary Assessment are communicated to the relevant stakeholders.

e) The Preliminary Assessment will be undertaken by ICOMOS and IUCN on a joint basis whenever relevant, and will be an independent desk review, which will include consultation with expert reviewers.  No mission to the site will be undertaken (see Annex 6). Based on available information, the conclusions of the assessment will include an indication of whether the site may have potential to justify Outstanding Universal Value. If so, specific guidance and advice, in the form of recommendations, will be provided to assist the State(s) Party(ies) in the development of the nomination dossier. The Preliminary Assessment Report by the Advisory Bodies shall be provided to the State(s) Party(ies) via the Secretariat in one of the two working languages of the Convention. 

f) The Preliminary Assessment Report by the Advisory Bodies is relevant for up to 5 years. A new Preliminary Assessment is required if a nomination is not submitted by 1 February on the fifth year following the transmission of the Report to the concerned State(s) Party(ies). 

g) A State Party may withdraw a Preliminary Assessment request it has submitted, at any time.  In such circumstances, any further consideration of a possible nomination will need to be subject to a new request for a Preliminary Assessment.

h) At each session of the World Heritage Committee, the Secretariat will provide a list of Preliminary Assessments requests received and those undertaken, but will not indicate the guidance given by the Advisory Bodies to the concerned State(s) Party(ies) in a completed Preliminary Assessment. However, once a nomination is submitted, the related Preliminary Assessment Report shall be annexed to it.

i) Both Upstream Process and Preliminary Assessment imply guidance at an early stage, prior to the preparation of a nomination, however they are different mechanisms. The Upstream Process is not mandatory. The Preliminary Assessment is a mandatory phase possibly allowing access to the preparation of a nomination dossier. Within an Upstream Process a visit to the site may be possible, while the Preliminary Assessment is carried out exclusively on the basis of a desk review.  The Upstream Process may provide general advice, in relation to revision of a Tentative List, while the Preliminary Assessment is undertaken on a single site (whether serial or not) already included on a State Party’s Tentative List. While in general the costs of Upstream Process requests are borne by the requesting State(s) Party(ies), the costs of Preliminary Assessments, being part of the nomination process, are included in the related evaluation process (see also Paragraph 168bis). In terms of sequence, Upstream Process advice should precede the Preliminary Assessment."
Theme:  2.4 - Upstream Process
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

4. "[The World Heritage Committee] (…) recalls that, in order to be effective, the upstream support should ideally take place at an early stage, preferably at the moment of the preparation or revision of the States Parties’ Tentative Lists."
Theme:  2.4 - Upstream Process
Decision:  41 COM 9A

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

Paragraph 45

"Cultural and natural heritage are defined in Articles 1 and 2 of the World Heritage Convention.

Article 1

For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as "cultural heritage";

- monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of history, art or science;

- groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of history, art or science;

- sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and of man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of Outstanding Universal Value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological points of view.

Article 2

For the purposes of this Convention, the following shall be considered as "natural heritage":

- natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of Outstanding Universal Value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;

geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science or conservation;

- natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty."

Theme:  2.7.1 - Cultural, Natural and Mixed 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 46

“Properties shall be considered as "mixed cultural and natural heritage" if they satisfy a part or the whole of the definitions of both cultural and natural heritage laid out in Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention.

Theme:  2.7.1 - Cultural, Natural and Mixed 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

4. "[The World Heritage Committee] reiterates that due to the complexity of mixed site nominations and their evaluation, States Parties should ideally seek prior advice from IUCN and ICOMOS, if possible at least two years before a potential nomination is submitted, in compliance with Paragraph 122 of the Operational Guidelines."
Theme:  2.7.1 - Cultural, Natural and Mixed Properties
Decision:  41 COM 9B

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)
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