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Outstanding Universal Value

In April 2005 the City of Kazan (Republic of Tartarstan, Russian Federation) hosted an expert meeting to define this three world more clearly.

Criteria of Outstanding Universal Value [Word document]
Each identification for the world list of monuments and sites of outstanding universal value in the sense of the Convention means - just as in individual countries the preparation of national or regional monument lists - documentation of monuments and sites or cultural properties on the basis of an evaluation following certain criteria. These criteria, however, may change from time to time and we should be aware of the change of values that this entails. For example, the so-called artistic value depends to a certain degree on the taste of the time; it is therefore not an absolute but only a relative value. Also in the past decades there have been changes in what the societies of the various regions of the world consider to be important within the chronological/regional framework of the history of humankind. This also finds expression, for instance, in the considerably expanded "modern" definition of monument.
While in our time there is a strong dominance of purely economic values, in former times there used to be fierce discussion about cultural value orientation, eg if we think of the famous querelle des anciens et modernes of the 17th century in France - the question whether outstanding universal values could only be achieved by imitating the Antiquity or if expressions of the creativity of one's own time were also allowed.

Background Paper prepared by IUCN – The World Conservation Union. Special Expert Meeting of the World Heritage Convention: The concept of Outstanding Universal Value. Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation. 6-10 April 2005 [Word document]

OUV is thus the central construct of the Convention and IUCN considers the following issues are relevant in defining its meaning:

Outstanding: For properties to be of OUV they should be exceptional. IUCN has noted in several expert meetings that: “the World Heritage Convention sets out to define the geography of the superlative – the most outstanding natural and cultural places on Earth” (Thorsell, 1997);

Universal: The scope of the Convention is global in relation to the significance of the properties to be protected as well as its importance to all people of the world. By definition properties cannot be considered for OUV from a national or regional perspective; and

Value: What makes a property outstanding and universal is its “value” which implies clearly defining the worth of a property, ranking its importance based on clear and consistent standards, and assessing its quality.

Jokilehto, Jukka, et al. The World Heritage List: What is OUV? Defining the Outstanding Universal Value of Cultural World Heritage Properties. An ICOMOS study compiled by Jukka Jokilehto, with contributions from Christina Cameron, Michel Parent and Michael Petzet. Berlin: Hendrik Bäßler Verlag, 2008.

" In the CRM [Cultural Resource Management] policy, five principles are set down to enable us to make decisions or choices about the scale and level of treatment of historic structures. These are the principles of:

        1. value
        2. public benefit
        3. understanding
        4. respect and
        5. integrity

    "At the macro-level, these principles guide the planning process and at the micro-level facilitate the selection of appropriate conservation treatments. The planning process should result in one document clearly describing the values and the significance of a site or area and its commemorative/presentation objectives. Everyone from heritage professionals, field people and management needs to be in agreement on the conservation/presentation agenda...."

    Cameron, Christina. "Managing Heritage Structures in the 1990s Current Issues Facing the CPS," CRM Volume 15, No. 6, p.3. National Park Service. [Download a PDF format file.] Reformatted here to include numerical list of the principles.

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