UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Complete Study Notes

The UNESCO World Heritage Sites is part of the various Bank and Government Exam Syllabus. The following article contains brief information on the important points of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and also a list of all the World Heritage Sites in India.



What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has adopted an International Treaty Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage on 16 November 1972, with an intent to identify, protect and conserve landmarks (city, complex, building, desert, monuments, ancient ruins, mountains, lakes, complexes, islands, forests) which have outstanding historical, cultural or some other form of significance. The sites listed/recognized by the UNESCO belong to everyone (universal application) irrespective of the continents/countries they belong to and come under the protection zone of UNESCO. These landmarks which have been officially recognized by the UNESCO are called as World Heritage Sites.


What is the Mission of UNESCO World Heritage Committee?

The UNESCO encourages countries, state parties and their local populace, to participate and cooperate in the preservation and protection of their respective cultural and natural heritage, by nominating them for inclusion on the World Heritage List. It also provides them assistance to safeguard their sites, through training, technical assistance, emergency assistance and awareness-building activities.


How does UNESCO choose the sites?

The properties/sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List following a nomination process. The state parties are encouraged to submit a list of properties, within their boundaries, which they consider to be cultural and natural heritages, having outstanding universal value. This list is called the ‘Tentative list’. Following this, the state parties have to submit a nomination file to the World Heritage Committee with the necessary documentation and maps included.

The committee then sends the nomination file to the advisory bodies. The advisory bodies evaluate the nominated properties. Once the properties are nominated and evaluated, it is left to the World Heritage Committee to take the last call. The World Heritage Committee meets once a year to decide which properties to inscribe on the World Heritage List. The committee can also request the state parties to provide them some more information on the nominated sites.

There are a total of ten criteria and the nominated site has to meet at least one, to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

These are:

(i) The site needs to represent a masterpiece of human creation.

(ii) The site has to exhibit an interchange of human value, over a period of time, on developments in architecture, monumental arts, landscape design.

(iii) The site has to bear as an evidence to a present culture/civilization or one that has disappeared.

(iv) The site has to be an outstanding/magnificent work of art which displays significant stage(s) in human history.

(v) The site has to be an important example of a human traditional settlement which represents a culture or represents human interaction with nature, especially if the site has become endangered under the impact of change.

(vi) The site has to be associated with events/beliefs/traditions that are of outstanding significance.

(vii) The site has to contain a magnificent natural phenomenon or extraordinary natural beauty and aesthetics.

(viii) The site has to represent the major stages of the history of earth, including records of life, significant processes in the development of major land forms.

(ix) The site has to represent important biological/ecological evolution which are on-going, also development of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, plants and animals.

(x) The site has to contain natural habitats to sustain biological diversity, including endangered and important species of outstanding value.


How many sites as of today?

As of today, UNESCO has listed a total of 1052 properties. 814 Cultural sites, 203 Natural sites and 35 Mixed.


What after inscription?

After the inscription, the sites listed on the World Heritage List are periodically monitored by local authorities and site managers, who’s duty is to manage and preserve the properties, and provide periodic reports, which contain updated information about the sites, to the World Heritage Committee. The reports help the committee to assess conditions at the sites and take necessary measures (if required).


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List of World Heritage Sites in India

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India


We hope the above helped you acquire more knowledge on UNESCO World Heritage Sites and its activities.

Stay tuned for more notes on topics under various Bank and Government Exams.

We wish you all the very best!



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