Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management


4.2. European Regulations Regarding Culture and Heritage

Apart from National Legislations, the Central European administrative bodies, such as the European Council and the European Commission have adopted measures for the protection of tangible and intangible heritage. The European University Institute has assembled and codified these regulations, conventions and other legislative measures which can be found here:  https://www.eui.eu/Projects/InternationalArtHeritageLaw/European

The most important texts are:

·         European Cultural Convention CETS No.018, Paris, 19 December 1954, in force 5 May 1955

·         Convention on the Protection of Archaeological Heritage (Revised) CETS No.143, Valletta, 16 January 1992, in force 25 May 1995

·         European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, CETS No.148, Strasbourg, 5 November 1992, in force 1 March 1998

·         European Landscape Convention, CETS No.176, Florence 20 October 2000, in force 1 March 2004

·         European Convention for the Protection of the Audiovisual Heritage CETS No.183, Strasbourg 8 November 2001, in force 1 January 2008

·         Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, CETS No.199, Faro 27 October 2005, not in force. In order to enforce it, the Council of Europe is welcoming initiatives from Communities, inscribed as Heritage Communities, who attempt to abide to the precepts of the convention and further propagate them. For further details and how to participate with your own community visit https://www.coe.int/en/web/culture-and-heritage/faro-action-plan

A.     UNESCO precepts on Cultural Heritage Management


The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is the largest organization worldwide regulating cultural and heritage management issues. It was founded in 1945 at the aftermath of World War II with the vision to “foster dialogue and mutual understanding among peoples of the world”. Promotion of cultural heritage and education are vehicles to this end. Since its foundation, UNESCO has promulgated a series of statutory documents with binding effect to the countries that adopt and ratify them, in order to facilitate preservation and enhancement of tangible and intangible heritage and various  aspects of culture.


1.Tangible Heritage

The 1972 World Heritage Convention


In 1972 during the17th UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris was adopted the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Natural and Cultural Heritage aiming at the protection and conservation of the World Natural and Cultural Heritage as well as at its transmission to future generations. Through key definitions of the Cultural and Natural Heritage and the establishment of the World Heritage Committee, the Convention provides the fundamental framework for the World Heritage processes on national and international level. The Convention was gradually ratified by UNESCO’s member-states.

The World Heritage List


The World Heritage Committee is responsible for the World Heritage List which contains properties of Cultural and Natural Heritage that are considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value.

 According to Article 1 of UNESCO’s 1972 Cultural Convention, as Cultural Heritage are considered: monuments, groups of buildings, sites and cultural landscapes, whereas as Natural Heritage are considered: natural features consisting of physical and biological formations, geological and physiographical formations and natural sites of outstanding beauty or importance.” As Mixed Cultural and Natural Heritage are considered properties that satisfy a part or the whole of the definitions of both natural and cultural heritage.

Up to now (2017) in the World Heritage List have been inscribed 1073 properties (832 Cultural, 206 Natural & 35 Mixed) from 167 State Parties.


Criteria for Inclusion in the WHL

The main guidance for the implementation of the 1972World Heritage Convention is set out in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, which is periodically revised to reflect the decisions of the World Heritage Committee. The Operational Guidelines detail the nomination processes and define the criteria for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

For the tangible cultural heritage, nominations should demonstrate that the State Parties have an adequate management plan or a documented management system, ensuring that the value, authenticity and integrity of the property will be preserved in the future. If a nomination does not have a satisfactory management plan/ system at the time of nomination, a property has less chance to be inscribed in the World Heritage List, although it may be accepted according to a provision of the Operational Guidelines.

Management in the 1972 World Heritage Convention refers to State Parties’ general responsibilities towards cultural and natural heritage. Particularly, each State Party’s duty is to ensure the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to the future generations (Article 4), as well as to take effective and active measures for the protection, conservation and preservation for the cultural and natural heritage situated in their territory (Article 5).

Even though the Operational Guidelines provide detailed guidance regarding the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the guidance on management is general, since it has to be applicable in all parts of the world. However, the Guidelines provide a definition of both the objectives of a management system and of what it should contain. Particularly, the purpose of a management system is to ensure the effective protection of the nominated property for present and future generations. Therefore a management system may include:

●       A thorough shared understanding of the property by all stakeholders;

●       A cycle of planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and feedback;

●       The monitoring and assessment of the impacts of trends, changes, and of proposed interventions;

●       The involvement of partners and stakeholders;

●       The allocation of necessary resources;

●       Capacity-building; and

●       An accountable, transparent description of how the management system functions.


Inclusion Criteria for Tangible Heritage

The Operational Guidelines describe in detail the nomination processes and define the criteria for inclusion in the World Heritage List. A property is considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value if it meets one or more of the following criteria:


i.                    represent a masterpiece of human creative genius

ii.                  exhibit an important interchange of human values, (…) on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design

iii.                bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared

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

v.                   be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement (…) or human interaction with the environment (…)

vi.                 be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs (…)

vii.               contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance

viii.             be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history (…)

ix.                 be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes (…)

x.                   contain the most important and significant natural habitats (…).




The Nomination Process

The Nomination Process for inclusion in the World Heritage List includes four phases:


1.      The States Parties decide which properties to include in their Tentative Lists,

2.      The States Parties decide which properties included in their Tentative Lists will be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List,

3.      The World Heritage Committee decides whether to inscribe a property on the World Heritage List, after its evaluation by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and/or the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

4.      The States Parties manage effectively the inscribed properties to protect their Outstanding Universal Value, according to the World Heritage Convention.


1.      Tentative List


The States Parties that have ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention are urged to create a Tentative List, an inventory including the properties of natural and/or cultural heritage located in their boundaries that can be considered of Outstanding Universal Value and therefore may be submitted for inscription in the World Heritage List in the next years. This first step is very crucial since the World Heritage Committee does not consider any nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the properties are included on the State Party’s Tentative List. Tentative Lists should be submitted to the World Heritage Center at least one year prior to the submission of any nomination.


2.      Nomination of Properties


State Parties are encouraged to include in the nomination process of cultural and/or natural heritage properties a wide spectrum of stakeholders, namely local communities, governmental, non – governmental as well as private organizations. The Nomination file shall include the following sections, in accordance with the Format for the Nomination of Properties for Inscription on the World Heritage List (Annex No 5, unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001285/128532eo.pdf): a. Identification of the Property, b. Description of the Property, c. Justification for Inscription, d. State of conservation and factors affecting the property, e. Protection and Management, f. Monitoring, g. Documentation, h. Contact Information of responsible authorities, i. Signature on behalf of the State Party(ies). In many countries there is one authority for finalizing and submitting the nomination file, usually theMinistry of Culture.


3.      Evaluation of cultural/natural properties


When a property is nominated to be inscribed in the World Heritage List it is evaluated, according to the World Heritage Convention, by one or both of the two Advisory Bodies. ICOMOS evaluates the nominations of cultural heritage properties and IUCN the nominations of natural heritage properties. When a mixed property is nominated, the evaluation is carried out by both Advisory Bodies.

Once a year the World Heritage Committee gathers and decides which properties will be inscribed on the World Heritage List.


4.      Management of inscribed properties


States Parties ensure, through the effective management of their World Heritage Properties that the value, authenticity and integrity of the Properties inscribed will be preserved in the future. For this purpose, States Parties submit every six years a Periodic Report to the World Heritage Committee, including an assessment of the application of the World Heritage Convention, as well as updated information regarding the state of preservation and conservation of their World Heritage properties.


2. Intangible Cultural Heritage


As Cultural Heritage may be considered not only monuments and sites but also traditions and living expressions inherited from generation to generation. In 2003, UNESCO adopted during its 32nd General Conference the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Through this Convention the international community recognized that it is of utmost importance not only to safeguard the world heritage sites and landscapes, but also to raise awareness about the cultural expressions and about the skills that until then had no legal or programmatic framework to protect them. The Article 16 of the Convention establishes the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in order to prepare the implementation of the Convention, to provide guidance on best practices and make recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, as well as in order to examine the nominations submitted by State Parties to be inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

On the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are inscribed elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage, with a view to raising awareness on the importance of their safeguarding. According to Article 2 of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as Intangible Cultural Heritage are defined “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and skills to produce traditional crafts” (https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-heritage-00003).On the aforementioned List have been inscribed 470 elements from 117 countries.