What is OUV and 10 criteria for World Heritage site, UNESCO


OUV- Outstanding Universal Value World Heritage site by UNESCO
Source: Turkish Ministry
Nemrut Mountain National Park, It has been recognized as a World Heritage by UNESCO

1. What is OUV?

OUV- Outstanding universal value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole. The Committee defines the criteria for the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List.”

These values should be “outstanding” and “universal”. Outstanding means that in comparison with the generally documented cultural heritage they belong to the very best or are “representative of the best”. Universal means that these outstanding values can be acknowledged as such in general and worldwide. It also means that not only a region or a country looks after the protection of this heritage, but that instead, “mankind as a whole” feels responsible for its protection and conservation.

2. (OUV) Outstanding Universal Value is:

  • The main focus of the nomination in the World Heritage List;
  • What is evaluated;
  • Why a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List; and
  • What needs to be sustained through protection, conservation and management.

3. Attributes that makeup OUV:

Attributes are aspects of a property which are associated with or express the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value). Attributes can be tangible or intangible. The Operational Guidelines indicate a range of types of attribute which might convey Outstanding Universal Value, including:

  1. Form and design;
  2. Materials and substance;
  3. Use and function;
  4. Traditions, techniques and management systems;
  5. Location and setting;
  6. Language, and other forms of intangible heritage; and
  7. Spirit and feeling

3.1 Examples of attributes for natural properties could include:

  1. Visual or aesthetic significance;
  2. The scale of the extent of physical features or natural habitats;
  3. The intactness of physical or ecological processes;
  4. Naturalness, and intactness of natural systems;
  5. Viability of populations of rare species; and
  6. The rarity.

Attributes must be identified as they are important for the understanding of authenticity and integrity, and are the focus of protection, conservation and management.

Attributes are those elements of the property that carry OUV
Authenticity = Link between attributes and OUV (Outstanding Universal Value)
Integrity = completeness/intactness of the attributes needed to carry OUV

4. Criteria for assessing OUV (Outstanding Universal Value)

The criteria for assessing Outstanding Universal Value have evolved over time. However, the underlying concepts have remained stable.

The current criteria for assessing whether nominated properties are of Outstanding Universal Value under UNESCO World Heritage Site. The guidelines specified in the World Heritage Operational that are:

-1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

-2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

-3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

-4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

-5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

-6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

-7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

-8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

-9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

-10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

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