The process of declaring a site as a World Heritage Site involves several steps and is overseen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Here’s an elaboration of the process:
1. Tentative List: The process begins at the national level, where a country identifies potential sites within its borders that it believes possess outstanding universal value and could be considered for World Heritage status. These sites are included in the country’s Tentative List, which is submitted to UNESCO.
2. Nomination: Once a site is selected from the Tentative List, the country prepares a nomination dossier providing detailed information about the site’s cultural or natural significance, integrity, and authenticity. The nomination dossier must also demonstrate how the site meets the criteria set by UNESCO.
3. Evaluation by ICOMOS/ICOM/ICCROM: The nomination dossier is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for cultural sites, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) for museum-related sites, and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) for training and research centers. These advisory bodies provide technical evaluations and recommendations to the World Heritage Committee.
4. World Heritage Committee: The World Heritage Committee, composed of representatives from different countries, is responsible for making the final decision on the inscription of sites. The committee meets annually to review the nominations and make decisions.
5. Inscription: If a site is deemed to meet the criteria for outstanding universal value, the World Heritage Committee inscribes it on the World Heritage List. This declaration recognizes the site’s importance to humanity as a whole and places certain responsibilities on the country to protect and preserve it.
6. Monitoring and Reporting: Once a site is inscribed, the country is expected to implement protective measures and regularly report to UNESCO on the site’s state of conservation. If a site is endangered or its outstanding universal value is at risk, it may be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
7. Periodic Reporting: Every six years, countries must submit a periodic report to UNESCO, providing updated information on the site’s conservation, management, and any challenges or developments.
8. Delisting: In extreme cases where a site is no longer able to retain its outstanding universal value due to significant damage or neglect, the World Heritage Committee may decide to delist the site. This is a rare occurrence and is considered a serious failure in preserving the site’s value.
It’s important to note that the process of declaring a World Heritage Site is a rigorous and time-consuming one, aiming to ensure that sites of exceptional cultural or natural significance are recognized and protected for future generations.