The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention for short) is an international agreement drafted and adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972. The World Heritage Convention is an act of international law, which simultaneously encompasses cultural and natural heritage, while acknowledging their equal value. The unique character of this document comes from the commonly acknowledged responsibility between the international community to ptotect heritage sites found in different parts of the world, and those which have importance to the whole of humanity, while also respecting the rules of sovereignty covering all states.
The Convention defines the duties of the State Parties and establishes the rules of international cooperation for the benefit of the protection of heritage of Outstanding Universal Value. Through the creation of the World Heritage Committee and establishing the World Heritage Fund, together with defining the rules of the creation of the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, it creates organisational frameworks and defines basic elements of the system of world heritage management.
The special protection which States Parties (and, should they lack the necessary resources, the international community) are bound to provide to all sites of cultural and natural importance located on their territories is meant to save them from losing their Outstanding Universal Value and preserve them in good condition for the benefit of future generations.
The Convention text has remained unchanged since it was adopted. The rules governing its implementation are contained in a document entitled Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (http://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines/). This document has been revised by the World Heritage Committee over time in order to reflect new concepts, knowledge and experiences.
Convention State Parties
State Parties are countries which have committed to abide by the World Heritage Convention. By joining the Convention, the states commit to the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value situated on their territory with any international assistance and co-operation if needed.
The Convention has been ratified by 193 States Parties.
More information: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/