UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

  • The UNESCO has its headquarters in Paris, 195 member states are represented (www.unesco.de/home.html; http://en.unesco.org/)
  • Founded in November 1945, following the Second World War and the organized murder of European Jews by Nazi Germany, the UNESCO strives, »through promoting the cooperation between the cultures in education, science and culture to contribute to preserving the peace and security«. On 4th November 1946 the UNESCO constitution went into force.

UNESCO World Heritage Convention

The World Heritage Convention has existed since 1972. In 2016 the list of the World Heritage of the UNESCO contained some 1,050 sites in more than 160 countries. Of these, more than 800 are cultural monuments and almost 200 nature sites. Over 30 sites belong to both the cultural as well as the nature heritage. In addition, the title World Document Heritage has existed since 1992, by which the UNESCO preserves and distinguishes the documentary heritage of humanity as cultural memory. Immaterial cultural heritage can also be placed under the protection of the UNESCO. This applies to, for example, cultural traditions, artisanal and artistic skills, and oral traditions.

The World Heritage Convention is based on different criteria that must be adhered to in order to be recognized as world heritage:

  • Uniqueness
  • Authenticity
  • Integrity

A world heritage must exhibit an “Outstanding Universal Value“ (OUV).

UNESCO criteria

Die UNESCO developed ten criteria for the purpose of assessing the quality of uniqueness, the first six of which are relevant for cultural sites and cultural landscapes, while the last four establish the conditions for the nature heritage.

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.

Selection criteria

  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
  2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.


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