World Heritage Convention

The World Heritage concept was founded on a premise that certain places on earth are of outstanding universal value and as such should form part of a common heritage of human kind. Their splendor enriches our lives and illustrates the diversity of our planet and its inhabitants. The loss through deterioration or disappearance of any of these most prized possessions constitute the impoverishment of the heritage of all peoples in the world.

To ensure the proper identification, protection, conservation of the world’s irreplaceable heritage, Member States of UNESCO adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972. Since then, 190 countries have ratified the treaty. It is not intended to provide protection to all properties of great interest, importance or value, but only for a select list of the most outstanding of these from an international viewpoint. To be deemed of Outstanding Universal Value, a property must also meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity and must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding.

The Convention defines the kind of cultural and natural sites which can be considered for inscription to the World Heritage List. By signing the convention, countries recognize that sites located in their national territories and which have been inscribed on the World Heritage List, without prejudice to national sovereignty or ownership constitute a world heritage.  At present 962 properties are inscribed on the List – including 745 Cultural, 188 natural and 29 mixed sites. The Philippines has 3 cultural sites namely Baroque Churches of the Philippines, Rice Terraces of the Cordillera, Historic Town of Vigan, and 2 natural sites, the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.