The World heritage, a legacy for all
For many years UNESCO has been committed to the protection of the cultural and natural heritagethe splendid monuments and sites created by past civilizations and the natural environment in which peoples have lived and formed their cultural identity. The best-known example of this commitment, the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia, was launched by UNESCO in the 1960s and enabled some of the finest vestiges of the past to be saved for posterity.
The adoption of the World Heritage Convention by UNESCO's General Conference in 1972 signalled the opening of a new chapter in this story. The Convention broke fresh ground by affirming the existence of a World Cultural and Natural Heritage which belongs to the whole of mankind and by inaugurating a vast project to define and inscribe on a World Heritage List sites and monuments of such outstanding value that their protection is the responsibility of everyone. In so doing, it ushered in a new form of that co-operation and solidarity between nations and peoples which it is UNESCO's mission to promote.
Eight years ago, in August 1980, The UNESCO Courier devoted an entire issue to this project. The present number brings the story up to date. It provides an overview of the different categories and groups of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, as well as brief descriptions of a selection of them. The number of inscriptions is so high (288 properties located in 65 countries) that making a fully representative sample is no easy task. (It should be pointed out that some countries with a notable cultural and natural heritage are not Parties to the Convention and consequently do not appear in the following pages). Two criteria helped to guide our choice. Properties which featured in our August 1980 issue have not (with two exceptions) been given coverage. Secondly, we have concentrated on less well-known sites and monuments which, although quite as remarkable and beautiful as their more famous counterparts, often do not receive the attention they deserve.