World Heritage Committee

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Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee World Heritage Logo global.svg
Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

The World Heritage Committee is a committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization that selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. [1] It comprises representatives from 21 state parties [2] [1] that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term. [3] These parties vote on decisions and proposals related to the World Heritage Convention and World Heritage List.


According to the World Heritage Convention, a committee member's term of office is six years. However many States Parties choose to voluntarily limit their term to four years, in order to give other States Parties an opportunity to serve. [3] All members elected at the 15th General Assembly (2005) voluntarily chose to reduce their term of office from six to four years. [3]

Deliberations of the World Heritage Committee are aided by three advisory bodies, the IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM. [4] [5]


The World Heritage Committee meets once a year for an ordinary session to discuss the management of existing World Heritage Sites, and accept nominations by countries. [3] Extraordinary meetings can be convened at the request of two-thirds of the state members. [6] Meetings are held within the territory of state members of the World Heritage Committee at their invitation. Rotation between regions and cultures is a consideration for selection and the location for the next session is chosen by the committee at the end of each session. [6]

Session [7] YearDateHost city
1197727 June–1 July Flag of France.svg Paris
219785 September–8 September Flag of the United States.svg Washington, D.C.
3197922 October–26 October Flag of Egypt (1972-1984).svg Cairo & Luxor
419801 September–5 September Flag of France.svg Paris
5198126 October–30 October Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sydney
6198213 December–17 December Flag of France.svg Paris
719835 December–9 December Flag of Italy.svg Florence
8198429 October–2 November Flag of Argentina.svg Buenos Aires
919852 December–6 December Flag of France.svg Paris
10198624 November–28 November Flag of France.svg Paris
1119877 December–11 December Flag of France.svg Paris
1219885 December–9 December Flag of Brazil.svg Brasília
13198911 December–15 December Flag of France.svg Paris
1419907 December–12 December Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Banff
1519919 December–13 December Flag of Tunisia.svg Carthage
1619927 December–14 December Flag of the United States.svg Santa Fe
1719936 December–11 December Flag of Colombia.svg Cartagena
18199412 December–17 December Flag of Thailand.svg Phuket
1919954 December–9 December Flag of Germany.svg Berlin
2019962 December–7 December Flag of Mexico.svg Mérida
2119971 December–6 December Flag of Italy.svg Naples
22199830 November–5 December Flag of Japan.svg Kyoto
23199929 November–4 December Flag of Morocco.svg Marrakech
24200027 November–2 December Flag of Australia (converted).svg Cairns
25200111 December–16 December Flag of Finland.svg Helsinki
26200224 June–29 June Flag of Hungary.svg Budapest
27200330 June–5 July Flag of France.svg Paris
28200428 June–7 July Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Suzhou
29200510 July–17 July Flag of South Africa.svg Durban
3020068 July–16 July Flag of Lithuania.svg Vilnius
31200723 June–1 July Flag of New Zealand.svg Christchurch
3220082 July–10 July Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Quebec City
33200922 June–30 June Flag of Spain.svg Seville
34201025 July–3 August Flag of Brazil.svg Brasília
35201119 June–29 June Flag of France.svg Paris
36201225 June–5 July Flag of Russia.svg Saint Petersburg
37201317 June–27 June Flag of Cambodia.svg Phnom Penh
38201415 June–25 June Flag of Qatar.svg Doha
39201528 June–8 July Flag of Germany.svg Bonn
40201610 July–20 July Flag of Turkey.svg Istanbul
4120172 July–12 July Flag of Poland.svg Kraków
42201824 June–4 July Flag of Bahrain.svg Manama
43201930 June–10 July Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Baku
442020–2116 July–31 July 2021
Originally scheduled for 2020. Postponed to an extended 2021 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [8]
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Fuzhou
452022–2310 September–25 September 2023
Originally scheduled for 19 June–30 June 2022 in Kazan, Russia. Postponed to an extended 2023 session due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. [9] [10]
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Riyadh


At the end of each ordinary session, the committee elects a chairperson, five vice-chairpersons and a Rapporteur from those members whose term will continue through the next session. [6] These are known as the Bureau, and their representatives are responsible for coordinating the work of the World Heritage Committee, including fixing dates, hours and the order of business meetings. [1]


Each state member of the World Heritage Committee has one vote. Decisions require a simple majority with abstentions counted as not voting. Votes are delivered by a show of hands unless a secret ballot is requested by either the chairperson or two or more states members. [6]


Current members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee:

Member state [11] Mandate
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 2021–2025
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 2021–2025
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria 2021-2025
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt 2019–2023
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia 2019–2023
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 2021–2025
Flag of India.svg  India 2021–2025
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 2021–2025
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 2021–2025
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 2019–2023
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 2021–2025
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 2019–2023
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 2019–2023
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 2021–2025
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 2019–2023
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda 2021–2025
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2021–2025
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 2019–2023
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 2019–2023
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 2019–2023
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia 2021–2025


Increasing politicization of World Heritage Committee decisions to the detriment of conservation aims has been alleged, particularly with regard to new nominations for the World Heritage List, but also with the consideration of sites for the List of World Heritage in Danger. [12] [13] In 2010, states parties including Hungary, Switzerland and Zimbabwe submitted an official protest against such politicization. [5]

An external audit requested by the World Heritage Committee for its Global Strategy of the World Heritage List concluded in 2011 that political considerations were indeed influencing decisions. [5] It observed that the composition of committee representatives had shifted from experts to diplomats in spite of World Heritage Convention Article 9 and found that opinions from advisory bodies often diverged from World Heritage Committee decisions. [5]

In 2016, Israel recalled its UNESCO ambassador after the World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution in a secret ballot that referred to one of Jerusalem's holiest sites, the Temple Mount, only as a "Muslim holy site of worship", not mentioning that Jews and Christians venerate the site. [14] [15]

The committee has also been criticized with alleged racism, colorism, and geographic bias for favoring the inscription of sites in Western and industrialized countries over sites belonging to so-called "third-world" countries. A huge chunk of world heritage sites are located in Europe, Eastern Asia, and North America, where populations notably have lighter skin. [16] [17] [18] [19]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">World Heritage Site</span> Place of significance listed by UNESCO

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance. The sites are judged to contain "cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">International Council on Monuments and Sites</span> Cultural heritage organization

The International Council on Monuments and Sites is a professional association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world. Now headquartered in Charenton-le-Pont, France, ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964 and offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">World Heritage Convention</span> 1972 international treaty

The World Heritage Convention, formally the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, is an international treaty signed on 23 November 1972, which created the World Heritage Sites, with the primary goals of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The convention, a signed document of international agreement, guides the work of the World Heritage Committee. It was developed over a seven-year period (1965–1972).

The Government of Punjab, also known as the State Government of Punjab or locally as the State Government, is the supreme governing authority of the Indian state of Punjab and its 23 districts. It consists of an executive, led by the Governor of Punjab, a judiciary and a legislative branch.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts</span>

The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts is an international nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Official partnership with UNESCO and is accredited to provide advisory service to the Committee of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. CIOFF has 63 full members, 21 associate members and 18 corresponding members worldwide and 3 partner members. Its headquarters are in Confolens in France. Full members are National Sections with the aim to preserve traditional art, to organize Folklore Festivals or similar activities as well as unite voluntary organizations, working in the field of dance, music, costumes, customs and ethnography. The National Sections belong to sectors in the organization according to their geographic location.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UNESCO 1970 Convention</span> UNESCO international treaty on cultural property

The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property is an international treaty to combat the illegal trade in cultural items. It was signed on 14 November 1970 and came into effect on 24 April 1972. As of October 2022, 142 states have ratified the treaty.

The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention are a series of instructions to signatory nations regarding the proper implementation of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The guidelines were adopted by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at its first session and amended at its second session in 1978.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, is Canada's national commission for UNESCO, actively advancing the organization's mandate to contribute to peace based on the intellectual and moral solidarity of humankind by promoting cooperation among nations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage</span> 2010 establishment in Bahrain

The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage is a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO. founded as an autonomous and independent Bahraini public institution in 2010.


  1. 1 2 3 UNESCO. "The World Heritage Committee". UNESCO. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  2. According to the UNESCO World Heritage website, States Parties are countries that signed and ratified The World Heritage Convention. As of March 2013, there were a total of 170 State Parties.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "The World Heritage Committee". UNESCO World Heritage Site. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  4. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Advisory Bodies". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Office of the External Auditor for the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (2011) Independent Evaluation by the UNESCO External Auditor, Volume 1: Implementation of the Global Strategy for the Credible, Balanced and Representative World Heritage List. UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.
  6. 1 2 3 4 UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Natural and Cultural Heritage (2015) Rules of Procedure. World Heritage Centre, Paris. Download available at (27 June 2019)
  7. "Sessions". UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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  13. The Economist. August 26, 2010. "UNESCO's world heritage sites: A danger list in danger". Accessed 27 June 2019.
  14. Greshko, Michael (12 October 2017). "U.S. to Withdraw From UNESCO. Here's What That Means". National Geographic. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  15. Tress, Luke (26 October 2016). "UNESCO adopts another resolution ignoring Jewish link to Temple Mount". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  16. Eliot, et al (2012). World heritage: Constructing a universal cultural order. Poetics Journal.
  17. Djurberg, et al (2018). Reforming UNESCO's World Heritage. The Globalist.
  18. Keough (2011). Heritage in Peril: A Critique of UNESCO's World Heritage Program. Global Studies Law Review.
  19. Steiner, et al (2011). Imbalance of World Heritage List: "Did the UNESCO Strategy Work?". University of Zurich.