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World Heritage Committee

Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

The World Heritage Committee selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. It comprises representatives from 21 state parties that are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a four-year term. These parties vote on decisions and proposals related to the World Heritage Convention and World Heritage List.

According to the World Heritage Convention, a committee member's term of office is six years. However many State's Parties choose to voluntarily limit their term to four years, in order to give other States Parties an opportunity to serve. All members elected at the 15th General Assembly (2005) voluntarily chose to reduce their term of office from six to four years.

Deliberations of the World Heritage Committee are aided by three advisory bodies, the IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM.


The World Heritage Committee meets once a year for an ordinary session to discuss the management of existing World Heritage Sites, and accept nominations by countries. Extraordinary meetings can be convened at the request of two-thirds of the state members. Meetings are held within the territory of state members of the World Heritage Committee at their invitation. Rotation between regions and cultures is a consideration for selection and the location for the next session is chosen by the committee at the end of each session.

Session Year Date Host city
1 1977 27 June–1 July France Paris
2 1978 5 September–8 September United States Washington, D.C.
3 1979 22 October–26 October Egypt Cairo & Luxor
4 1980 1 September–5 September France Paris
5 1981 26 October–30 October Australia Sydney
6 1982 13 December–17 December France Paris
7 1983 5 December–9 December Italy Florence
8 1984 29 October–2 November Argentina Buenos Aires
9 1985 2 December–6 December France Paris
10 1986 24 November–28 November France Paris
11 1987 7 December–11 December France Paris
12 1988 5 December–9 December Brazil Brasília
13 1989 11 December–15 December France Paris
14 1990 7 December–12 December Canada Banff
15 1991 9 December–13 December Tunisia Carthage
16 1992 7 December–14 December United States Santa Fe
17 1993 6 December–11 December Colombia Cartagena
18 1994 12 December–17 December Thailand Phuket
19 1995 4 December–9 December Germany Berlin
20 1996 2 December–7 December Mexico Mérida
21 1997 1 December–6 December Italy Naples
22 1998 30 November–5 December Japan Kyoto
23 1999 29 November–4 December Morocco Marrakech
24 2000 27 November–2 December Australia Cairns
25 2001 11 December–16 December Finland Helsinki
26 2002 24 June–29 June Hungary Budapest
27 2003 30 June–5 July France Paris
28 2004 28 June–7 July China Suzhou
29 2005 10 July–17 July South Africa Durban
30 2006 8 July–16 July Lithuania Vilnius
31 2007 23 June–1 July New Zealand Christchurch
32 2008 2 July–10 July Canada Quebec City
33 2009 22 June–30 June Spain Seville
34 2010 25 July–3 August Brazil Brasília
35 2011 19 June–29 June France Paris
36 2012 25 June–5 July Russia Saint Petersburg
37 2013 17 June–27 June Cambodia Phnom Penh
38 2014 15 June–25 June Qatar Doha
39 2015 28 June–8 July Germany Bonn
40 2016 10 July–20 July Turkey Istanbul
41 2017 2 July–12 July Poland Kraków
42 2018 24 June–4 July Bahrain Manama
43 2019 30 June–10 July Azerbaijan Baku
44 2020–21 Originally scheduled for 2020.
Postponed to an extended 16 July–31 July 2021 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
China Fuzhou
45 2022 Originally scheduled for 19 June–30 June in Kazan, Russia.
Postponed indefinitely due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


At the end of each ordinary session, the committee elects a chairperson, five vice-chairpersons and a Rapporteur from those members whose term will continue through the next session. These are known as the Bureau, and their representatives are responsible for coordinating the work of the World Heritage Committee, including fixing dates, hours and the order of business meetings.


Each state member of the World Heritage Committee has one vote. Decisions require a simple majority with abstentions counted as not voting. Votes are delivered by a show of hands unless a secret ballot is requested by either the chairperson or two or more states members.


Current members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Member state Mandate
 Australia 2017–2021
 Bahrain 2017–2021
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2017–2021
 Brazil 2017–2021
 China 2017–2021
 Egypt 2019–2023
 Ethiopia 2019–2023
 Guatemala 2017–2021
 Hungary 2017–2021
 Kyrgyzstan 2017–2021
 Mali 2019–2023
 Nigeria 2019–2023
 Norway 2017–2021
 Oman 2019–2023
 Russia 2019–2023
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 2017–2021
 Saudi Arabia 2019–2023
 South Africa 2019–2023
 Spain 2017–2021
 Thailand 2019–2023
 Uganda 2017–2021
Total 21


Increasing politicization of World Heritage Committee decisions to the detriment of conservation aims has been alleged, particularly with regard to new nominations for the World Heritage List, but also with the consideration of sites for the List of World Heritage in Danger. In 2010, states parties including Hungary, Switzerland and Zimbabwe submitted an official protest against such politicization.

An external audit requested by the World Heritage Committee for its Global Strategy of the World Heritage List concluded in 2011 that political considerations were indeed influencing decisions. It observed that the composition of committee representatives had shifted from experts to diplomats in spite of World Heritage Convention Article 9 and found that opinions from advisory bodies often diverged from World Heritage Committee decisions.

In 2016, Israel recalled its UNESCO ambassador after the World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution in a secret ballot that referred to one of Jerusalem's holiest sites, the Temple Mount, only as a “Muslim holy site of worship,” not mentioning that Jews and Christians venerate the site.

See also

This page was last updated at 2022-08-09 14:34 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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