The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) (French: Conseil international des monuments et des sites) is a professional association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world. ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964 and offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.
The idea behind ICOMOS dates to the Athens Conference on the restoration of historic buildings in 1931, organized by the International Museums Office. The Athens Charter of 1931 introduced the concept of international heritage. In 1964, the Second Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings, meeting in Venice, adopted 13 resolutions. The first created the International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, better known as Venice Charter; the second, put forward by UNESCO, created ICOMOS to carry out this charter.
ICOMOS currently has over 7500 members. With rare exceptions, each member must be qualified in the field of conservation, and a practicing landscape architect, architect, archaeologist, town planner, engineer, administrator of heritage, art historian or archivist. Its international headquarters are in Paris.
ICOMOS and the World Heritage Convention
In 1972, ICOMOS was named by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention as one of the three formal advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee, along with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). As the professional and scientific adviser to the Committee on all aspects of the cultural heritage, ICOMOS is responsible for the evaluation of all nominations of cultural properties made to the World Heritage List with the criteria laid down by the World Heritage Committee. In addition to the basic criterion of “outstanding universal value,” ICOMOS evaluates nominations for aspects related to authenticity, management, and conservation as specified in the World Heritage Convention.
The evaluation of nominations involves consultation between the wide-ranging expertise represented by the organization’s membership and its National and Scientific Committees. Members are also sent on expert missions to carry out on-site evaluations of nominated properties. This extensive consultation results in the preparation of detailed recommendations that are submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its annual meetings.
ICOMOS is also involved, through its International Secretariat and its National and Scientific Committees, in the preparation of reports on the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. It advises the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on requests for technical assistance received from States that are party to (i.e. have ratified) the World Heritage Convention. ICOMOS maintains a full archive of nominations and reports at the Documentation Centre of its Paris headquarters.
National Committees are subsidiary organizations created in the countries which are members of UNESCO. They bring together individual and institutional members and offer them a framework for discussion and an exchange of information. ICOMOS currently has over 110 National Committees. Each National Committee adopts its own rules of procedure and elaborates its own program according to the goals and aims of ICOMOS. ICOMOS National Committees have been formed in the following countries:
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