Inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List

By signing the World Heritage Convention, the contracting states acknowledge their international obligation to protect the World Heritage sites located within their borders and preserve them for future generations. The other signatory states help, to the best of their abilities, to protect these sites of outstanding universal value.

The process of selecting natural or cultural sites for the UNESCO World Heritage List begins with the identification of potential properties. The procedure is based on what are called tentative lists, drawn up by the parties to the Convention. It is up to each party to the Convention to record and identify those sites within its territory which seem to be suitable for inclusion on the World Heritage List. Cultural or natural heritage properties can only be included on the list at the suggestion of parties to the Convention. Entry on the list requires the approval of the government in question.

The decision as to which of the proposed sites are included on the World Heritage List is made by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. It is assisted by three advisory specialist committees:  the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Centre for the Study ofthe Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In making its selection, the committee is guided by the criteria defined in the Convention. The most important selection criterion is the outstanding and universal value of a cultural or natural heritage property. The selection criteria are further defined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The key criteria are the uniqueness, authenticity (genuinely historic sites) and integrity (intactness) of the site.