Monuments&Sites XVI - What is OUV? Defining the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural World Heritage Properties

m a_s_16An ICOMOS study compiled by Jukka Jokilehto,

with contributions from Christina Cameron, Michel Parent and Michael Petzet

Berlin: Hendrik Bäßler Verlag, 2008. 111 p.

ISBN: 978-3-930388-51-6

20 euros (ICOMOS Members) - 25 euros (non members)



Summary / Sommaire


Following on from and completing the volume Monuments and Sites XII “The World Heritage List, Filling the Gaps – an Action Plan for the Future”, published in 2005, this new volume takes a comprehensive look back at the work done among other by ICOMOS since 1976 as an advisory body to the World Heritage Committee in relation to the criteria for the outstanding universal value (OUV) required by the Convention as a precondition for the inscription on the World Heritage List. It contains chapters on: the development of the OUV concept; characteristics of the OUV criteria i.) – vii.) and their justification; different aspects of using the criteria; other requirements for inscription; reasons for non-inscription; as well as conclusions and recommendations and a series of annexes, some  of which represent previously unpublished material.  

ICOMOS is currently seeking sponsorship to translate this publication into other languages. Contact: secretariat[at]

Après le volume Monuments et Sites XII « Liste du patrimoine mondial, Combler les lacunes – Un plan d’action pour l’avenir », publié en 2005, ce nouveau volume jette un regard exhaustif sur le travail réalisé entre autres par l’ICOMOS depuis 1976 en tant qu’organisation consultative du Comité du patrimoine mondial par rapport aux critères de valeur universelle exceptionnelle requis par la Convention à titre de condition préalable à l’inscription sur la Liste du Patrimoine mondial. Il comporte des chapitres sur le développement du concept de valeur universelle exceptionnelle, les caractéristiques des critères de valeur universelle exceptionnelle i.) – vii.) et leur justification, les différents aspects d’utilisation des critères, les autres exigences pour l’inscription, les motifs de non inscription, ainsi que des conclusions et des recommandations et une série d’annexes, dont certaines présentent des documents non publiés précédemment.  

L'ICOMOS est à la recherche de sponsors pour traduire cette publication dans d’autres langues. Contact: secretariat[at]

Electronic Version / Version Electronique

Download the publication in PDF format / Téléchargez la publication en format PDF:

  • What is OUV? Defining the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural World Heritage Properties [PDF, 1.96 MB]


  • I. Introduction
  • II. What is Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)?
    1. The UNESCO Convention
    2. UNESCO Expert Meeting, 1976
    3. First Definitions of OUV by the Committee
    4. Report by Michel Parent, 1979
    5. Global Strategy Meeting in Amsterdam, 1998
    6. Operational Guidelines, 2005
    7. Kazan Meeting on OUV, 2005
    8. Terminological Considerations
  • III. Justification of the WH Criteria
    • Thematic Framework
    1. Criterion (i) (Masterpiece)
    2. Criterion (ii) (Values/Influences)
    3. Criterion (iii) (Testimony)
    4. Criterion (iv) (Typology)
    5. Criterion (v) (Land-Use)
    6. Criterion (vi) (Associations)
    7. Criterion (vii) (Natural Beauty)
  • IV. Use of the Criteria
    1. Criteria as Applied per Property
    2. Evolving Application of Criteria
    3. Discrepancies in the Evaluation Process
    4. Application of One Sole Criterion
  • V. Other Requirements for Inscription
    • Authenticity
    • Integrity
  • VI. Reasons for Non-Inscription
  • VII. Conclusions and Recommendations
  • Annexes
    • Annex 1 A: UNESCO Meeting in Morges (1976)
    • Annex 1 B: ICCROM on OUV (1976)
    • Annex 1 C: ICOMOS on World Heritage Criteria (1976)
    • Annex 1 D: Michel Parent, Report on WH Criteria (1979)
    • Annex 1 E: World Heritage Expert Meeting, Amsterdam (1998)
    • Annex 1 F: World Heritage Expert Meeting, Kazan (2005)
    • Annex 1 G: Christina Cameron, Keynote Paper in Kazan (2005)
    • Annex 2 A: Changes to World Heritage Criteria in different versions of the Operational Guidelines
    • Annex 2 B: Compendium of World Heritage Sites and Criteria
    • Annex 3 A: Brief Descriptions of Sites inscribed in 2005–2007
    • Annex 3 B: Index of World Heritage Cultural and Mixed Properties

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