Building peace in the minds of people – Construire la paix dans l’esprit des hommes – Construir la paz en la mente de los hombres – Нести мир в сознание людей – 联合国教科文组织 – بناء السلام في عقول البشر
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) was founded in London in November 1945 as a specialized agency of the United Nations. Its headquarters are at 7, place de Fontenoy, Paris.
The objective of the organization is defined as: “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.”
The UNESCO governing bodies are the General Conference and the Executive Board. Every two years, the General Conference brings together all the representatives of the Member States to establish policies, projects, and the budget for the organization. The General Conference also elects the Members of the Executive Board, and, every four years, the Director-General. The overall management of UNESCO, the work and supervision of the implementation of the decisions made by the General Conference are carried out by the Executive Board, a sort of board of directors that consists of 58 Members that meets twice a year.
The UNESCO executive body consists of the Secretariat, characterized by the Director-General and the Staff. The Director is responsible for enforcing the commitments made by the Member States. The current UNESCO Director-General is Irina Bokova, elected in 2009.
UNESCO’s offical languages are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Rusian, and Spanish.
In 1972 the UNESCO General Conference implemented the Convention for the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. In 2017, there are 193 countries that have joined the Convention, whose mission is to assure the protection of cultural and natural heritage, to encourage Member States to indicate sites in their own national territories to be included in the World Heritage List. In fact, it is the Member States’ task to identify potential sites to add to the List and to deal with their protection and preservation.
The World Heritage Committee meets once a year and is composed of representatives of the 21 Member States elected by the General Assembly every six years.
is responsible for the implementation of the Convention;
defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties;
has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List;
examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties;
asks States Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed;
decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The reference organizations for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention are:
Italy currently (2018) has 54 properties inscribed on the List and is the country best represented.
At present the World Heritage List consists of 1092 properties, including:
37 that are cross-border sites
2 that have been removed from the List
54 that are inscribed in the Heritage in Danger List
845 cultural sites
209 natural sites
38 mixed sites (UNESCO World Heritage Centre, n.d.a)
Outstanding Universal Value
The Statement of Outstanding Universal Value illustrates the reasons why each property/site has been inscribed in the List and is the benchmark for the development of the Management Plan. This document is made up of: a brief description of the site, the selection criteria, the Statement of Authenticity and/ or Integrity, and the requirements for management and protection of the heritage.
Indeed, for a property/site to qualify for inscription in the World Heritage List it must possess Outstanding Universal Value.
For a property to be considered of Outstanding Universal Value it must:
meet one or more of the selection criteria;
satisfy the conditions of Integrity and Authenticity;
have an adequate system of management and protection to ensure that it is safeguarded.
World Heritage Criteria
Criteria I – represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
Criteria II – exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
Criteria III – bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
Criteria IV – be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
Criteria V – be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible changes;
Criteria VI – be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.
Criteria VII – contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
Criteria VIII – be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
Criteria IX – be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
Criteria X – contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of Outstanding Universal Value from the point of view of science or conservation. (UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2015).
Integrity (both for natural and cultural heritage – Criteria I – X)
Integrity is a measure of the wholeness and intactness of the natural and/or cultural heritage and its attributes. The conditions of integrity is based on three elements:
the property includes all elements necessary to express its Outstanding Universal Value;
is of adequate size to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes which convey the property’s significance;
suffers from adverse effects of development and/or neglect. (UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2015; ICOMOS, 1994)
Authenticity (only for cultural heritage – Criteria I – VI)
Authenticity can be understood as the requirement of credibility, therefore, the enlisted property should be really what it claims to be. Degree to which information sources about the property’s value may be understood as credible or truthful. The cultural heritage must be considered and judged primarily within the cultural contexts to which it belongs.
The authenticity is expressed through a variety of attributes including:
form and design;
materials and substance;
use and function;
traditions, techniques and management systems;
location and setting;
language, and other forms of intangible heritage;
spirit and feeling
other internal and external factors. (UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, 2015; ICOMOS, 1994)