Image: view of Paris from UNESCO World Heritage Centre Show image info

view of Paris from UNESCO World Heritage Centre

UNESCO World Heritage Convention

The 'Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage' was adopted by UNESCO in 1972 and has been signed by 192 countries (as of Summer 2016). It is based on the idea that certain places in the world are of outstanding universal value and, as such, should form part of the common heritage of humankind.

The Convention's primary purpose is to define the cultural and natural sites of the world which signify our common heritage and which would represent an irreplaceable loss should they disappear.

One of the Convention's greatest strengths is that it combines in one document both natural and cultural sites and recognises that cultural identity is related to the natural environment in which it develops.

The Convention defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List, and sets out the duties of countries in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. The Convention also describes the function of the World Heritage Committee, how its members are elected and their terms of office, and specifies the professional advisory bodies to which it can turn for advice in selecting the sites to be listed. The Convention explains how the World Heritage Fund is to be used and managed and under what conditions international financial assistance may be provided.