The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention, for short) was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972. Currently, 189 countries (known as “States Parties”) have ratified the Convention, including Canada in 1976. The Convention established the World Heritage List as a means of recognizing that some places, either natural or cultural, are of sufficient importance to be the responsibility of the international community as a whole. By joining the Convention, States Parties pledge to care for World Heritage Sites in their territory and to avoid deliberate measures that could damage World Heritage Sites in other countries. As such, the World Heritage List serves as a tool for conservation.
The Convention is overseen by the World Heritage Committee, which is composed of 21 countries elected by the States Parties. The Committee is supported by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre in Paris, which advises States Parties on the preparation of site nominations, organizes technical assistance on request and coordinates reporting on the condition of sites. It also coordinates emergency action to protect threatened sites and administers the World Heritage Fund. Parks Canada was designated in 1976 as the lead agency for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Canada.