Cooperation with International Organizations (UNESCO,UNU)

January 8, 2020

World Heritage Convention

1. Official Name

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

2. History of Establishment, Ratification and States Parties

November 16, 1972 Adopted at the 17th UNESCO General Conference (in Paris)
December 17, 1975 Convention becomes effective
January 2020 193 States Parties

3. Japan's Participation

June 19, 1992 Approval given by the National Diet
June 26, 1992 Decision made by the approval cabinet
June 30, 1992 Documents of approval received
September 30, 1992 Japan becomes a State Party

4. Objective

To establish a framework of international cooperation and support in order to protect Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage from the threat of damage or destruction and preserve them, as they are the legacy of the world and all mankind.

5. Principal Provisions

  • (1) The objects that shall be protected are the monuments, buildings, sites, natural areas, and so forth that possess outstanding universal value (Articles 1-3).
  • (2) States Parties shall recognize their duty to protect the heritage situated on its territory and do their utmost in that regard (Article 4). They shall also recognize that the protection of such heritage and international cooperation for that is the duty of the international community as a whole (Article 6).
  • (3) A World Heritage Committee, elected from among the States Parties, shall be established (Article 8). This Committee shall examine the heritage nominated by States Parties and establish the World Heritage List, as well as decide international assistance for the protection of properties, as per the requests of the State Party. The decision of the Committee will be taken by a majority of two-thirds of the members present and voting (Article 11, Article 13).
  • (4) A World Heritage Fund shall be established for the protection of World Heritage and it shall be made up of compulsory contributions of the States Parties which are not to exceed 1% of their UNESCO budget (in Japan's case this was approximately 35 million yen in 2017), voluntary contributions, and other contributions, gifts and bequests (Article 15, Article 16).
  • (5) The international assistance granted by the World Heritage Committee may take the form of study and research, provision of experts, training, equipment supply, and granting subsidies (Article 22).
  • (6) The States Parties shall endeavor through educational and information programmes to strengthen the appreciation and respect by their peoples of the cultural and national heritage (Article 27).

6. World Heritage List (1121 properties as for January 2020)

  • (1) Cultural Heritage: 869 properties
  • (2) Natural Heritage: 213 properties
  • (3) Mixed Heritage: 39 properties

World Heritage Committee

1. Summary

The Committee is an intergovernmental body that has been established based upon Article 8 of the World Heritage Convention. The Committee meets once a year around June or July. In addition, there may be extraordinary sessions calling for the resolution of particular problems.

2. Offices

UNESCO World Heritage Centre (Paris)
Director : Mechtild Rössler

3. Main Topics of the World Heritage Committee

  • (1) Examination of nominations of States Parties for Inscription on the World Heritage List or the List of World Heritage in Danger and establishment of the Two Lists
  • (2) Examination of the state of conservation of specific properties on either the World Heritage List or the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • (3) Examination of requests for international assistance for the protection of properties on the World Heritage List
  • (4) Management of the World Heritage Fund
  • (5) Publicity and educational activities, etc.

4. Member States of the World Heritage Committee

Currently, the twenty-one States below are the Members of the Committee (For a term of office of six years). However, at present, their term of office are shortened to only four years and may stand again for election after a gap of 6 years after the expiry of their mandate.

States which will leave office in 2021 States which will leave office in 2023
  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Hungary
  • Brazil
  • Guatemala
  • Saint Christopher and Nevis
  • China
  • Australia
  • Kyrgyz
  • Uganda
  • Bahrain
  • Russian Federation
  • Thailand
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Mali
  • Ethiopia
  • Oman
  • Egypt
  • Saudi Arabia

5. Previous Sessions of the World Heritage Committee

The sessions of the World Heritage Committee that have been held of since Japan joined are as follows below.

Session Date Host
16th December 1992 Santa Fe (United States of America)
17th December 1993 Cartagena (Colombia)
18th December 1994 Phuket (Thailand)
19th December 1995 Berlin (Germany)
20th December 1996 Merida (Mexico)
21st December 1997 Naples (Italy)
22nd December 1998 Kyoto (Japan)
23rd December 1999 Marrakesh (Morocco)
24th December 2000 Cairns (Australia)
25th December 2001 Helsinki (Finland)
26th June 2002 Budapest (Hungary)
27th June 2003 Paris (France)
28th June 2004 Suzhou (China)
29th July 2005 Durban (South Africa)
30th July 2006 Vilnius (Lithuania)
31st June 2007 Christchurch (New Zealand)
32nd July 2008 Quebec City (Canada)
33rd June 2009 Sevilla (Spain)
34th July 2010 Brasilia (Brazil)
35th June 2011 Paris (France)
36th June 2012 St. Petersburg (Russia)
37th June 2013 Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
38th June 2014 Doha (Qatar)
39th June/July 2015 Bonn (Germany)
40th July 2016 Istanbul (Turkey)
40th (Continuation) October 2016 Paris (France)
41st July 2017 Kraków (Poland)
42nd June/July 2018 Manama (Bahrain)
43rd June/July 2019 Baku (Azerbaijan)
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