World Heritage Convention

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention) was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. To date, more than 182 countries have adhered to the Convention, making it one of the most universal international legal instruments for the protection of the cultural and natural heritage.

Role of the OWHC with respect to the World Heritage Convention

While the Organization of World Heritage Cities does not appear along with ICCROM, ICOMOS and the IUCN among the partner organizations of UNESCO indicated in the World Heritage Convention, the General By-Laws of the OWHC stipulate that it is dedicated to the implementation of the 1972 Convention. This initiative by the OWHC was officially recognized by Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO at the time, at the opening of the Third International Symposium of World Heritage Cities held in Bergen in June 1995: “The World Heritage Convention relies heavily on the services provided by several important professional networks, in particular the IUCN, ICCROM and ICOMOS. The Secretariat [of the World Heritage Centre] and I deem the OWHC to be equally important.”

By fostering communication between managers and the exchange of know-how pertaining to the management of World Heritage Cities, the OWHC is helping to support public officials in the execution of the responsibilities that each government that is a party to the Convention has assumed by signing the agreement, i.e. to act as the key guarantor of the preservation of the sites and monuments included on the UNESCO World Heritage List located within its territory.