Inscription on the World Heritage List

The process for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List is long, often lasting for many years. The prerequisite for successful inscription is evidence of outstanding universal value.

The criteria to assess this are defined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The essential conditions include the overarching criteria of “authenticity” (i.e. historical authenticity) and “integrity” (i.e. the wholeness and intactness of the site).

Ten further criteria listed in the guidelines serve to provide a more precise definition of outstanding universal value. To be inscribed on the World Heritage List, at least one of these criteria must be fulfilled. Criteria include a unique artistic achievement or significant influence on the architecture, town-planning or landscape design over a span of time or within a cultural area. Alongside evidence of outstanding universal value, a description of the state of conservation as well as of the protection and management mechanisms are key components of the nomination dossier. In addition, a management plan must also be provided to ensure that the site will be protected in the future.

The complete nomination dossier is then submitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Centre in Paris. German nominations are passed from the relevant state ministry to the Foreign Office via the Kultusministerkonferenz, so that the file can be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre by the Permanent Delegation of Germany to UNESCO. The decision on whether to inscribe the property is made by the World Heritage Committee. The basis for this decision is a multi-stage assessment conducted by one of the international expert organisations (ICOMOS, IUCN, ICCROM) commissioned to undertake evaluations. The process lasts at least 18 months from submission to decision.