Protection policy

Protection policy

What is a state party and what are its obligations?

State parties are the countries that have ratified the convention. There are currently 182 signatory countries to the World Heritage Convention, making it one of UNESCO's conventions with the most member states or state parties.
Spain signed up to this convention in 1982.

Each state party undertakes to protect, conserve, restore and pass on to future generations the cultural and natural heritage that lies in its territory by using its own resources and efforts, although if these are insufficient, it may receive international aid of a financial and/or technical nature.

Who co-ordinates this protection policy?

To organise this entire protection policy, UNESCO established the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage of Outstanding Universal Value, known as the World Heritage Committee, the members of which are drawn from a number of state parties and various consultation bodies.

Who is involved in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention?

The World Heritage Convention is implanted by: the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre, the World Heritage Committee and the Advisory Bodies.

States Parties

States Parties are the countries which have adhered to the World Heritage Convention. They thereby agree to identify and nominate properties on their national territory to be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List. When a State Party nominates a property, it gives details of how a property is protected and provides a management plan for its upkeep. States Parties are also expected to protect the World Heritage values of the properties inscribed and are encouraged to report periodically on their condition.

World Heritage Centre

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Convention and for the administration of the World Heritage Fund.

Established in 1992, the World Heritage Centre is the focal point and coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to World Heritage. The Centre organizes the annual session of the World Heritage Committee and its Bureau, provides advice to States Parties in the preparation of site nominations, organizes international assistance from the World Heritage Fund upon request, and coordinates both the reporting on the condition of sites and the emergency action undertaken when a site is threatened.

The Centre also organizes technical seminars and workshops, updates the World Heritage List and database, develops teaching materials to raise awareness among young people of the need for heritage preservation, and keeps the public informed of World Heritage issues.

World Heritage Committee

The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and is constituted by representatives from 21 States Parties to the Convention elected for terms up to six years. The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, allocates financial assistance from the World Heritage Fund and has the final say on whether a site is inscribed on the World Heritage List or not. It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed sites and decides on the inscription or removal of sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Advisory Bodies

The World Heritage Convention foresees the participation and support by Advisory Bodies. These bodies have voice at the World Heritage Committee and their functions are to evaluate the sites and to inform about the state of conservation of inscribed properties.

The World Heritage Convention's Advisory Bodies are:


The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) is an intergovernmental body and is located in Rome. ICCROM was set up in 1956 and it's dedicated to the conservation of cultural heritage. It exists to serve the international community.

The decision to found the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property was made at UNESCO in 1956, at a time of mounting interest in the protection and preservation of cultural heritage.

ICCROM aims at improving the quality of conservation practice as well as raising awareness about the importance of preserving cultural heritage. This body has as objective carry out Training, Information, Research, Cooperation and Advocacy Programmes.

Within the framework of the World Heritage Convention the ICCROM´s functions are to provide expert advice on how to conserve listed properties, as well as training in restoration techniques.




The International Council on Monuments and Sites is a non-governmental international organisation dedicated to the conservation of the world's monuments and sites. It was founded in 1965 and is located in Paris.

Today, it is the only global non-government organisation of this kind, which is dedicated to promoting the application of theory, methodology, and scientific techniques to the conservation of the architectural and archaeological heritage. Its work is based on the principles enshrined in the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter).

The International Council on Monuments and Sites provides the World Heritage Committee with evaluations of all nominations of cultural properties made to the World Heritage List with the criteria laid down by the World Heritage Committee. In addition to the basic criterion of "outstanding universal value," ICOMOS evaluates nominations for aspects related to authenticity, management, and conservation as specified in the World Heritage Convention.

ICOMOS is also involved in the preparation of reports on the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. It advises the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on requests for technical assistance received from States Parties.




The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is an international, non-governmental organization that was established in 1948 and is located in Gland, Switzerland. This body is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization.

Conserving biodiversity is central to the mission of IUCN. This advisory body demonstrates how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world's greatest challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and food security.

UICN provides the World Heritage Committee with technical evaluations of natural heritage properties and, through its worldwide network of specialists, reports on the state of conservation of listed properties.