UNESCO World Heritage List

Adopted by UNESCO in 1972, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, commonly referred to as "The World Heritage Convention," established the World Heritage List to identify, protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage sites that are thought to be of outstanding value to humanity. To date, 193 States have acceded to the Convention. 

All countries can bring their nominations to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, which makes its selections based on the following criteria:

  • A cultural property could be a masterpiece of creative genius; have exerted great architectural influence; be associated with ideas or beliefs of universal significance; or be an outstanding example of a traditional way of life that represents a certain culture.
  • A natural property may exemplify major stages of the earth's history; represent significant ongoing ecological and biological processes; contain the natural habitats of threatened species; or be a setting of exceptional beauty.

Three organizations advise the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in its work: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS); the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM); and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Committee also works with other bodies, such as the Organization of World Heritage Cities and the International Council of Museums.