The places having been created by thousands of years of inimitable natural processes, or hectolitres of sweat and millions of pairs of human hands - this is how we could characterize the UNESCO List of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which brings together over 1 000 of the most beautiful, the most amazing, and the most unique sites in the world. The purpose of this global "collection" is to preserve the most precious natural and cultural treasures of mankind, but also to strengthen international cooperation in an effort to preserve them.
The UNESCO is The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The main mission of this agency in the structures of the UN is to contribute to the security and peace through the promotion of international cooperation in education, science or culture.
The UNESCO was established on 16th November 1945, it is currently being based in Paris, has 195 Member States and 9 associated members.
Proposals for the inclusion of territories or monuments in their respective territories in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage may only be submitted by countries that have signed the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It is based on the idea that there are exceptional sites in the world created by nature and man, which should be considered as the heritage of all mankind, which, at the same time, would enjoy special protection with a view to preservation for the next generations. The Convention, as an international means of coping with the issues of the modern world, combines protection of nature and conservation with of the cultural heritage.
The nomination process consists of the following steps:
1. Preliminary list: The first step to be taken by each country is to draw up an inventory of the most important cultural and natural heritage sites in its territory. Such a provisional list shall contain the anticipated sites that a Member State may propose to be included in the list for the next 5 to 10 years. The pre-list can be updated at any time. If a site or a monument is not listed on the pre-list of the country concerned, the World Heritage Committee can not treat it as a nomination for UNESCO World Heritage List.
2. Presentation of the nomination: After its presentation of the pre-list and selection of specific sights, the relevant Member State shall plan the deadline for its submission of the nomination. The World Heritage Centre will then accept and verify the date of presenting the nomination, which it will subsequently send to the relevant advisory bodies for assessment.
3. Advisory bodies: The nominated site or monument shall be independently assessed by two advisory bodies authorized by the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage: the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Both of the institutions will provide the World Heritage Committee their assessments and testimonies of the nominated cultural and natural sites. The third advisory body is the International Centre for the Study of Protection and Restoration of Cultural Monuments (ICCROM). It is an intergovernmental organization that provides advice to the Committee expert advice on the conservation of cultural heritage.
4. The World Heritage Committee - After the previous steps have been taken, presentation of the nomination and the assessment by the advisory bodies, the turn comes of the World Heritage Committee. The Committee meets once a year and decides which of the sites and monuments will be listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It may also postpone its decision and require the Member States to provide more detailed information.
Until the year 2004, the criteria for being listed on the UNESCO World Heritage and Cultural Heritage had varied according to whether it had been a cultural or a natural heritage. Later on, the World Heritage Committee merged these criteria, and the site would only acquire its extraordinary value, if it meets one or several of the following criteria:
• It represents the work (creation) of the human creative spirit.
• It represents an important intersection (penetration) of human values transcending the time or covering the cultural area of the world in the development of architecture or technology, monumental art, town planning or landscape design.
• It brings exceptional character or at least exceptional testimony of a cultural tradition or civilization that is alive or has already become extinct.
• It is an exceptional example of a building type, architectural or technological set or landscape that represents a significant stage (a significant milestone) of human history.
• It is an exceptional example of traditional human settlement, land or sea use that represents a given culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment, especially when the site has become vulnerable due to the impact of irreversible changes.
• It is directly or vicariously linked with events or life traditions, with ideas or religious creeds, with artistic and literary works of exceptional universal significance. (The Committee believes that this criterion should be used preferentially while applying another criterion).
• It contains extraordinary natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
• It is an outstanding example representing important stages of the Earth's development, including life records, important geological processes taking place in the development of the nature of the terrain, or important geomorphic and physiographic features.
• It is an outstanding example of significant ongoing ecological and biological processes of the development of land, freshwater, seaside and marine ecosystems and groups of plants and animals.
• It contains the most important and essential natural environments for the preservation of the in situ biodiversity, including those that contain endangered species of outstanding universal value from the viewpoint of science or their protection.
TYPES OF LIST ENTRIES
• Monuments: Archaeological finds, architectural works, the works of monumental sculptures and paintings, inscriptions, cave dwellings, and combinations of elements that have exceptional universal value in terms of history, art or science.
• Buildings: Groups of separate or associated buildings that have exceptional historical, artistic or scientific value due to their architecture, homogeneity or location in the country.
• Locations: A work of man, or a combination of natural and human works, but also sites including archaeological sites that have an exceptional universal value in terms of history, aesthetics, ethnology or anthropology.
• Natural elements: Those comprising physical and biological units or groups of such units which have an exceptional aesthetic or scientific value.
• Geological and physiographic formations: Precisely defined areas that create biotopes of endangered animal species and plants of exceptional value from the viewpoint of science and conservation.
• Natural habitats: Those located on precisely defined natural areas of exceptional universal value from the viewpoint of science, conservation or natural beauty.