World Heritage Convention

On 16 November 1972, UNESCO adopted the «Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage». It is the most important universal convention for the safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage, and perhaps the most crucial ever adopted by the international community.

The guiding principle of the World Heritage Convention is the «recognition that certain parts of the cultural or natural heritage are of exceptional importance and must therefore be preserved as the world heritage of humanity as a whole» (excerpt from the preamble to the World Heritage Convention). By signing the Convention, States undertake to protect, promote and preserve World Heritage sites within their borders for future generations.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage decides each year which sites should be included in the World Heritage List.

The criteria set out in the World Heritage Convention include the «uniqueness» and «authenticity» (historical) of a cultural monument or site. In addition to the current state of conservation, a convincing conservation and management plan must also be submitted.

More than 1030 cultural and natural heritage sites in 163 countries in all regions of the world are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The General Assembly of the World Heritage Convention approved the resolution «World Heritage and Sustainable Development» in November 2015. With this resolution, Member States are invited to promote sustainable development in the World Heritage region and also to involve local populations.