World Heritage sites belong to all the people of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
UNESCO's World Heritage mission is, among other things, to encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention, to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage and to provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger.
The World Heritage Convention established a system for making a record, or list of places in the world, which, because of their universal value, should be considered as world heritage sites for future generations, and the whole of humanity.
In accordance with the Convention, an international committee dealing with world heritage issues was formed. The committee held its first meeting in Paris in 1977. At the committee’s second meeting the first 12 sites, among them the Galapagos Islands, the historical centre of Krakov and Yellowstone Park, were approved and inscribed on UNESCOs World Heritage List. Read more about the World Heritage Commitee's work.
The World Heritage List online
Established in 1992, the World Heritage Centre is the focal point and coordinator within UNESCO for all matters related to World Heritage.
Ensuring the day-to-day management of the Convention, the Centre organizes the annual sessions 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.