Preparing World Heritage Nominations

Published in 2011 by the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
 Edition:  2011
 Author: ICOMOS and IUCN
 Table of contents: 
 1.  World Heritage background
 2. Preparation
 3. Defining and understanding the property
 4. Writing and preparing the nomination file
 5. Evaluation process
Context and overview of the Resource Manual
The aim of this Resource Manual is to help States Parties to achieve good quality World Heritage nominations.
The World Heritage Convention and the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (latest version dated August 2011) are key documents and can be found on the World Heritage Centre website. The Operational Guidelines are crucial to understanding the way the World Heritage Convention works. The manual should be used in conjunction with the most recent version of the Operational Guidelines – which are revised from time to time by the World Heritage Committee. The guidelines should be read before this manual, and carefully consulted throughout the process of preparing nominations.
Definitive advice on the operation and requirements of the World Heritage Convention is contained in the Convention text itself and in the Operational Guidelines. This manual does not replace the Operational Guidelines in any way but provides additional guidance. In all cases, the Convention and Operational Guidelines remain the primary references. The text of the World Heritage Convention (available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) and the Operational Guidelines (in English and French) are available from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and on its website (
There are many different ways to prepare a nomination. The diversity of administrative structures and cultures are necessarily reflected in the nominations. It is not appropriate to give ’recipes’ or to recommend a preferred working method for preparing nominations. There are many different good ways of doing so. Nevertheless the Advisory Bodies consider that there are a few underlying basic principles which should underpin all good nominations to ensure that the most appropriate properties are nominated, properties are represented as effectively as possible within nominations, and the nomination process itself contributes to protection, conservation and effective management of natural and cultural heritage.
There are many similarities, but also significant differences, between the preparation of cultural heritage nominations and natural heritage nominations. Accordingly several sections of this manual apply specifically to either cultural or natural heritage properties. Note however the differentiation that was formerly made between the cultural and natural criteria no longer exists.
The concept of ’Outstanding Universal Value’ underpins the World Heritage Convention. It is the touchstone for all inscribed properties. The basic purpose of nominations is to say what a property consists of, why it demonstrates potential Outstanding Universal Value, and how this value will be sustained, protected, conserved, managed, monitored and communicated.
This manual seeks to:
• stress the importance of understanding the World Heritage nomination system;
• highlight and explain in simple terms key World Heritage concepts;
• emphasize the importance of the team in preparing a nomination;
• provide a better understanding of the scope of work in preparing a nomination;
• provide information and tips on understanding the property; and
• provide tips on preparing the nomination file to help to clarify the Operational Guidelines.
The manual also provides some advice on proposals for an extension to an existing World Heritage property, as a significant extension is treated as a new nomination.
Cooperation between States Parties
The World Heritage Convention explicitly promotes international cooperation in achieving the goals of the Convention. The process of preparing nominations to the World Heritage List provides many opportunities for such cooperation, including:
• technical and financial assistance provided by one State Party to another;
• development of transboundary / transnational nominations;
• research to develop a sound comparative analysis; and
• assisting with the international peer review of nominations prior to formal lodgement.
World Heritage nominations should not be viewed as a competition between States Parties as this would be contrary to the entire spirit of the World Heritage Convention.
Who is the Resource Manual for?
This manual is primarily for all those who are involved in developing World Heritage nominations for properties. It may also prove useful for the preparation of Tentative Lists, and for other heritage listing activities.
In addition, it will be of interest to:
• States Parties including federal and national levels;
• heritage protection / protected area agencies;
• non-governmental organizations (NGOs);
• local governments;
• local communities;
• institutions;
• persons giving training workshops or courses on the development of World Heritage nominations; and
• concerned individuals.
The manual is designed to be a tool for:
• self-guided learning;
• training workshops; and
• briefing and educating.


See Manual