World Heritage site visit report
1. ICOMOS is recognized in the World Heritage Convention as one of the professional advisers to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. As such, it is responsible for the evaluation of cultural properties to the World Heritage List. It also participates in the work of reporting on the state of conservation and management of properties already inscribed on the List. This involves both systematic reporting, at the request of the World Heritage Committee and of the governments of countries that are States Parties to the Convention, and reactive reporting, where the cultural values for which properties are inscribed on the List are threatened by natural phenomena or human activities.
2. It should be stressed, however, that it is the States Parties themselves who have the primary responsibility for the maintenance of their sites and monuments and for reporting on their state of conservation. The role of ICOMOS is to mobilize opinion and expertise in order to make proposals for appropriate action.
3. With more than eight hundred cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, the formal process of reporting on state of conservation and management is complex and cumbersome. There is, moreover, no central database for the cultural heritage comparable with that for the natural heritage provided by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge (UK). Whilst ICOMOS does not possess the resources to enable it to create a formal structure of this kind, it does have certain unrivalled resources that would permit the creation of an informal “intelligence” system related to the cultural heritage.
4. One of these is its National Committees, many of which already inform the International Secretariat in Paris when World Heritage properties in their countries are under threat. A second source, which has already proved to be of great value in isolated cases, is that of the individual members of ICOMOS, to whom the present form is directed.
5. ICOMOS members are all professionals in one or more of the disciplines concerned with the protection and conservation of the cultural heritage. Most of them travel a great deal within their own countries and abroad, both on business and for pleasure, and these visits frequently take them to towns, monuments, and sites that are inscribed on the World Heritage List. The object of the present simple form is to enable them to provide short, informal reports on their observations, as professionals, on what they see during such visits.
6. The reports will be used primarily to build up a database, to assist the work of ICOMOS in its World Heritage work. Where attention is drawn to serious threats to the conservation and integrity of properties on the List, the Secretariat may make use of the reports to initiate corrective action through the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO. It should be stressed that these reports will be treated in strict confidence by the International Secretariat. The identity of those responsible for them will not be disclosed without permission.
7. It is hoped that all members will cooperate in this work, which will further strengthen the standing of ICOMOS as the premier international cultural conservation organization.