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World Heritage Site

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site on the planet earth such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city, that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the World Heritage Site list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State Parties (countries) which are elected by the General Assembly of States Parties for a fixed term. (This is similar to the United Nations Security Council.)

The programme aims to catalogue, name, and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed World Heritage sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund.

The World Heritage Sites programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 184 (as of July 2007) States Parties have ratified the convention.

As of 2007, a total of 851 World Heritage Sites are listed: 660 cultural, 166 natural, and 25 mixed properties, in 142 States Parties. UNESCO references each World Heritage Site with a unique identification number; but new inscriptions often include previous sites now listed as part of larger descriptions. As a result, the numbering system currently ends above 1200, even though there are fewer on the actual list.

Each World Heritage Site is the property of the country on whose territory the site is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to preserve each site for future generations of humanity. The protection and conservation of these sites are a concern of all the World Heritage countries.

Unesco's Mission Statement

(From the Unesco World Heritage Website)

UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to: encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage; encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List; encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites; help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training; provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger; support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation; encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage; encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.