The notion that there are things worth preserving here on earth, both natural and man-made, is something we can all agree on. There are things which have a universal value, things which are unique, and which need to be protected and looked after. This is the background for the World Heritage Convention.
The World Heritage Convention (the convention for the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage) was approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1972. The convention comprises over 1000 locations, of which 800 are places of cultural importance and 200 are places of great natural significance. To become a World Heritage Site certain criterias must be met, put forth in a list of ten different standards. A committee appointed by member countries decides which places are to be given world heritage status. If a place is accepted, the home country has to commit to following a set of guidelines laid down by UNESCO. If these are not observed, the committee can place it on the so-called danger list. In the worst case it can lose its world heritage status, which has actually occurred.
ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) is the advisory organ for UNESCO when a new site is being assessed for entry in the list.