Requirements for Nomination to the World Heritage List Process
UNESCO considers for inscription sites of natural and cultural heritage properties which are considered to be of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ i.e. “has cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity and the permanent protection of it’s heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole”.
A detailed case for a nominated site must be prepared which clearly establishes its “outstanding universal value”. The history of any works must be documented to establish its authenticity. It must be demonstrated that a comprehensive Management Plan and legislative protections are in place for the site. Visit www.unesco.org for more detailed information.
Outstanding Universal Value Criteria
A property is deemed to be of Outstanding Universal Value if it satisfies one or more of the ten criteria, as per Section 77 of the ‘Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention’:
- must bear a unique testimony to a cultural tradition/civilization which is living or has disappeared
- represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
- 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;
- be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
- 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;
- 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)
- contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
- 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;
- be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
- 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. Click here for UNESCO Operational Guidelines www.unesco.org
Integrity and/or Authenticity
To be deemed of outstanding universal value a property must meet the conditions on integrity and/or authenticity as per the Nara Document on Authenticity. The Inspectorate is very demanding in this respect. For cultural sites this would involve a clear and independently substantiated justification of any 'intervention' by way of, for example, conservation/restoration or adaptation. On the natural side likely issues may be incursion of human influence e.g. development, tourism, pollution, exotic species, etc.
Protection and Management
There must be adequate protection and management systems to ensure a properties safeguarding. Very high standards are required in this area. The Inspectorate looks closely at legal framework, designation, ownership, commitment of resources, management philosophy, effectiveness of on-the-ground measures and public access. View the Management Plans for the Irish World Heritage Sites.
The Inscription Process
The nomination process generally takes 1.5 years. The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is the State Party responsible for nominating sites to UNESCO for the World Heritage List.
Once the nomination is registered, advisory bodies will evaluate whether the properties nominated have outstanding universal significance. Cultural heritage nominations are evaluated by ICOMOS, Natural Heritage nominations by IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
- Brú Na Bóinne nomination documentation
- Skellig Michael nomination documentation
- UNESCO summary of nomination documentation
The World Heritage Committee decides whether a property should be inscribed on the World Heritage List, guided by the Advisory bodies. When deciding on the inscription of a property on the World Heritage List, the Committee adopts a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value which is a summary of the assessment and acts as the key reference for future protection and management of the property.