Posted 11 July, 2013 by Stuart Torres in Heritage

World Heritage Basics

Patrimonio y Patrimonio Intangible Tangible

The Cultural Heritage can be tangible and intangible. The tangible is the expression of cultures through great physical achievements. And the embroidery, is classified into movable and immovable.

The tangible heritage includes archaeological objects furniture, historical, art, ethnographic, technological, religious and those of traditional or folk origin that are important for science collections, art history and conservation of the country's cultural diversity. These include works of art, manuscript books, documents, historical artifacts, recordings, photographs, movies, audiovisual, crafts and other objects of archaeological, historical, scientific and artistic.

The tangible property is made up of places, sites, buildings, engineering works, industrial centers, architectural, Typical areas and monuments of interest or relevant value from the architectural point of view, archaeological, historical, artistic scientist, recognized and registered as such. These are works immovable cultural or human productions that can not be moved from one place to another, either because they are structures (for example, a building), or because they are an inseparable relationship with the land (for example, an archaeological site).

Intangible heritage consists of that part invisible spirit resides in the same cultures. There are companies that have focused their knowledge and techniques, and the memory of their ancestors, in the oral tradition. It encompasses the “lifestyles, fundamental rights of the human, value systems, traditions and beliefs. To this definition must be added processing capacity that animates, and intercultural exchanges involved.

Intangible heritage consists, inter alia, for poetry, rites, lifestyles, traditional medicine, popular religion and traditional technologies of our land. Popular culture integrate different languages, languages, regional and local idioms, music and traditional instruments, religious dances and festive dances, cooking costumes, myths and legends; riddles and rhymes; love songs and carols; the said, playgrounds and magical beliefs.

Outstanding Universal Value

Claiming that a holder of a site is of outstanding universal value means that its disappearance would be an irreplaceable loss for all people of the world. The outstanding universal value can be defined more simply as World Heritage value.

State of Conservation

The inscription on the World Heritage List is a catalyst to raise awareness of heritage conservation by governments and citizens alike. Strengthening awareness, and the embroidery, leads to a further consideration as a general increase in the level of protection accorded to conservation and heritage properties. A regular report on the state of conservation of properties inscribed ensures the maintenance of its exceptional qualities.

Newspaper Report

Every six years, States Parties are invited to submit to the World Heritage Committee a periodic report on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, including the state of conservation of World Heritage properties located on its territories.

Why a newspaper report?

The periodic report on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention is intended to serve four main purposes:

  • provide an assessment of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention by the State party;
  • provide an assessment as to whether the World Heritage values ​​of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List are maintained over time;
  • provide updated information on World Heritage properties to record the changing circumstances and state of conservation of properties;
  • provide a mechanism for regional cooperation and exchange of information and experiences between States Parties concerning the implementation of the Convention and World Heritage conservation.
How does it work?

The World Heritage Committee has as periodic reporting regional approach as a means to promote regional collaboration and to respond to the specific characteristics of each region.

For each, strategies for regional periodic reporting are developed to ensure the full participation of the States Parties, competent institutions and regional expertise. The end result of each regional strategy is a Regional Status Report of the World Heritage.

The Committee examines these regional reports according to a pre-established schedule, which is based on a six year cycle.

Periodic Reporting Cycle for Six Years

Year of examination by the Regional State Committee World Heritage Report
Number of States Parties (to December, 1998)
Report on the properties inscribed on the World Heritage up to and including

Arab States
Asia and the Pacific
Latin America and the Caribbean
Europe and North America
Arab States


Process for Periodic Reporting

Implementation of regional strategies to provide:

  • A participatory process
  • The involvement of the States Parties, competent institutions and regional expertise
  • Assistance for States Parties to prepare reports
  • Exchange of experiences between States Parties
  • Analysis of the reports in a regional context
  • Preparation of Regional State of World Heritage Report
  • Presentation of the Regional State of World Heritage Report
  • Regional Status Report considered by the World Heritage World Heritage Committee
  • The World Heritage Committee responds to the State Regional World Heritage Report (makes recommendations to the States Parties, draws conclusions for their own policy and decision making)
  • Response of the World Heritage Committee included in its report to the General Conference of UNESCO
Reactive Monitoring

The Reactive Monitoring is the report by the World Heritage Centre, other sectors of UNESCO and the advisory bodies of the Committee on the state of conservation of specific World Heritage which are under threat.

In this regard, States Parties shall submit to the Committee, by the World Heritage Centre, reports and specific impact studies each time exceptional circumstances occur or when engaged in work that could have an effect on the state of conservation of the property.

The reactive monitoring is provided for in the procedures for the eventual deletion of properties from the World Heritage List, as set out in paragraphs 48-56 of the Operational Guidelines. It is also foreseen in reference to properties inscribed, or those who are registered, on the List of World Heritage in Danger, as set out in paragraphs 86-93.

UNESCO Evaluation Criteria

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention that, addition to 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 concept of World Heritage.

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 for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, only one set of ten criteria exists.

UNESCO Evaluation Criteria

i. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

ii. atestiguar for an exchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of ​​the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, planning or landscape design;

iii. to give a single or, at least, exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization alive or missing;

iv. be an outstanding example of a type of building, The architectural ensemble of the technological paisaje that illustrates (a) important stage (s) in the history of mankind;

in. be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land use, the sea or use which is representative of a culture (the cultures), or human interaction with the environment, especially when it has become vulnerable to the effects of irreversible;

we. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, with the 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);

vii. contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

viii. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, the geomorphological characteristics of the physiographic significant;

ix. to be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, Freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

x. containing 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.

Protection, management, the authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.

From 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.

Cultural criteria
Cultural criteria
Natural criteria
Natural criteria
Operational Guidelines 2002 Guidelines 2002
Operational Guidelines 2005 Guidelines 2005

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Stuart Torres