We've already talked about one of the most important international juridical instrument for the preservation of natural and artistic treasures and goods of extraordinary value, the Convention for the Protection of the World Heritage, in force since 1972 in the UNESCO.
Even we've already pointed out, in general, which are the main bodies, whose task is to regulate the functioning and the concrete respect of its contents, it could be interesting to observe the World Heritage Committee, and after this, to examine the structure and the tasks of the World Heritage Center, and the creation and utilization of the World Heritage Fund.
The Committee consists of representatives from 21 States Parties, elected by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention (art. 8), whose terms of office are 6 years, and it meets once each year.
Only seven members of the Committee make up the World Heritage Bureau, an executive body that meets to prepare the work of the Committee, and to examine all requests for international assistance, with the exception of requests for emergency assistance or large-scale requests - that is those exceeding US$ 30,000.
The Committee is the statutory body responsible for decision-making in the following areas:
· selecting new sites for the World Heritage List from among the cultural and natural properties nominated by the different countries. In this case the Committee is assisted by two international non-governmental organizations, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which are responsible for the expert evaluation of each proposal;
· protecting the sites on the List by allocating resources of the World Heritage Fund and determining the technical and financial aid to be given to the sites in need.
More exactly, Paragraph 3 of the Operational Guidelines outlines the four essential functions of the World Heritage Committee as being:
- to identify, on the basis of nominations submitted by States Parties, cultural and natural properties of outstanding universal value, which are not yet protected under the Convention and then must be listed in the "World Heritage List";
- to monitor the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List; the Committtee examines in this case reports on the state of conservation of listed sites draftde by States Parties, and can ask them to take action when sites are not being properly managed;
- to decide, in case of urgent need, which properties included in the World Heritage List are to be inscribed on the "List of World Heritage in Danger" (only properties which require for their conservation major operations: this kind of assistance must be requested in accordance with the Convention);
- to determine in what way and under what conditions the resources in the World Heritage Fund can most advantageously be used to assist States Parties in the protection of their properties of outstanding universal value, for example in need of repair or restoration, for providing technical assistance, or for promotional and educational activities.