Frontpage Contents Search Press Office BTA logo italiano
The Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in Danger  
Cristiana Carletti
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, July 11th 2000, n. 183 (May 13th 1999)

Nowadays we all know by media - tv, radio and press - what bloody armed conflicts have been and are being fought in many countries, in all the world: wars in which no one is saved, men who sacrifice their lives to fight for an ideal - right or wrong - women, children and old people, houses and goods which have an important value, because they testify cultural and artistic traditions of a population, because they represent its historic and social evolution during the centuries.

These are the goods and properties included and to be included in the future by UNESCO in the List of the World Heritage in Danger, as it has happened for monuments of extraordinary historic and artistic value in the Former Yugoslavia territories.
Article 11 (par. 4) of the Convention for the World Heritage Protection defines the List as: « ... a list of the property appearing in the World Heritage List for the conservation of which major operations are necessary and for which assistance has been requested under the Convention. This list shall contain an estimate of the cost of such operations. The list may include only such property forming part of the cultural and natural heritage as is threatened by serious and specific dangers, such as the threat of disappearance caused by accelerated deterioration, large-scale public or private projects or rapid urban or tourist development projects: destruction caused by changes in the use or ownership of the land; major alterations due to unknown causes; abandonment for any reason whatsoever; the outbreak or the threat of an armed conflict; calamities and cataclysms; serious fires, earthquakes, landslides; volcanic eruptions; changes in water level, floods, and tidal waves.»
Paragraph 6(vi) of the Operational Guidelines states that «when a property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost those characteristics which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List, it should be placed on the World Heritage in Danger List ...».

The Committee may include a property in this List when the following requirements are met: 1. the property under consideration is on the World Heritage List; 2. the property is threatened by serious and specific danger; 3. major operations are necessary for the conservation of the property; 4. assistance under the Convention must have been requested - in certain cases it may be limited to messages of its concern.

In the case of cultural properties, two cases must be distinguished:

The property is faced with specific and proven imminent danger, such as:

  1. serious deterioration of materials;
  2. serious deterioration of structure and/or ornamental features;
  3. serious deterioration of architectural or town-planning coherence;
  4. serious deterioration of urban or rural space, or the natural environment;
  5. significant loss of historical authenticity;
  6. important loss of cultural significance.

The property is faced with threats which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics, like:

  1. modification of juridical status of the property diminishing the degree of its protection;
  2. lack of conservation policy;
  3. threatening effects of regional planning projects;
  4. threatening effects of town planning;
  5. outbreak or threat of armed conflict;
  6. gradual changes due to geological, climatic or other environmental factors.

There are other elements, which suggest the action for the protection of natural properties, to be inscribed in the List of the World Heritage in Danger. By the way, in general, the factor or factors which are threatening the integrity of the property must be those which are amenable to correction by human action, particularly of administrative or legislative nature.

When considering the inclusion of a property in the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Committee, first of all, shall request the Secretariat to ascertain, as far as possible in cooperation with the State Party concerned, the present condition of the property, the dangers to the property and the feasibility of undertaking corrective measures. The Committee may further decide to send a mission of qualified observers from IUCN, ICOMOS, ICCROM or other organizations to evaluate the nature and extent of the threats. After it has examined the information available, the Committee will take a decision by a majority of two-thirds of the Committee members present and voting, concerning the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger; then it will define the programme of corrective action to be taken and will give information to the State Party concerned about this. The State Party shall act for their implementation. The Committee shall review at regular intervals the state of property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, by monitoring procedures and expert missions. Eventually it shall decide about additional measures to conserve the property, to delete the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger if the property is no longer under threat, to consider the deletion of the property from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List if the property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost those characteristics which determined its inclusion in the World Heritage List.

There are currently 18 properties included in the List of World Heritage in Danger.



BTA copyright PATRONS Mail to