World Heritage List Nominations
Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The first step a country must take is to make an ‘inventory' of its important natural and cultural heritage sites located within its boundaries. This ‘inventory' is known as the Tentative List, and provides a forecast of the properties that a State Party may decide to submit for inscription in the next five to ten years and which may be updated at any time. It is an important step since the World Heritage Committee cannot consider a nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the property has already been included on the State Party's Tentative List.
The Nomination File
By preparing a Tentative List and selecting sites from it, a State Party can plan when to present a nomination file. The World Heritage Centre offers advice and assistance to the State Party in preparing this file, which needs to be as exhaustive as possible, making sure the necessary documentation and maps are included. The nomination is submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review and to check it is complete. Once a nomination file is complete the World Heritage Centre sends it to the appropriate Advisory Bodies for evaluation.
The Advisory Bodies
A nominated property is independently evaluated by two Advisory Bodies mandated by the World Heritage Convention: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which respectively provide the World Heritage Committee with evaluations of the cultural and natural sites nominated. The third Advisory Body is the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an intergovernmental organization which provides the Committee with expert advice on conservation of cultural sites, as well as on training activities.
The World Heritage Committee
Once a site has been nominated and evaluated, it is up to the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee to make the final decision on its inscription. Once a year, the Committee meets to decide which sites will be inscribed on the World Heritage List. It can also defer its decision and request further information on sites from the States Parties.
The Criteria for Selection
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage. The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.
Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines, only one set of ten criteria exists.
Format for the nomination of properties for inscription on the World Heritage List
Nomination dossiers may be submitted at any time during the year, but only those nomination dossiers that are “complete” (see paragraph 132 and Annex 5) and received by the Secretariat on or before 1 February* will be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee during the following year.
Operational Guidelines annex 5
Form for the submission of factual errors in the Advisory Bodies evaluations
Deadline: The original signed version of the completed Factual Errors submission form should be received in English or French by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, no later than 14 days before the opening of the session of the Committee.
Operational Guidelines annex 12
Reflection on Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts and other negative and divisive memories
In view of the increasing number of nominations submitted or under preparation related to sites associated with memories of recent conflicts, the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018) in three of its decisions requested to undertake a comprehensive reflection and convene an Expert Meeting on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts.
Proposed for review
Cultural, Natural, Mixed
- Interpretation of Sites of Memory
- Preparing World Heritage Nominations
- Retrospective Inventory and "boundary clarifications"
- Strengthening different parts of the nomination dossier of the Diy Gid Biy Cultural Landscape of the Mandara Mountains (extension of the Sukur Cultural Landscape) on the World Heritage List
- Online Training supports African countries to develop nomination dossiers 09-Oct-2020
- Ethiopia receives support in preparation of World Heritage nomination files 15-Sep-2020
- Two natural sites, one in China, another in Iran, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List 05-Jul-2019
- UNESCO, Africa and China agree on projects to safeguard World Heritage in Africa 14-Jun-2019
- Polish city of Kraków to host 2017 World Heritage Committee session 17-Jul-2016
- Reflection on Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts and other negative and divisive memories 18-Jan-2021
- Call for application: TABE’A Programme Training Series: Tentative Lists and Nomination preparation for Natural World Heritage sites 07-Jun-2016-27-Jul-2016
- Deadline for reception of nominations 31-Jan-2014
- Expert meeting on Improvement to “upstream processes" prior to consideration of nominations by the World Heritage Committee 27-Apr-2010-29-Apr-2010
- International expert meeting on World Heritage and serial properties and nominations 25-Feb-2010-27-Feb-2010
- International Expert meeting on World Heritage and buffer zones 11-Mar-2008-14-Mar-2008