The 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, or World Heritage Convention, links together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties in a single document. The Convention sets out the duties of States Parties in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. By signing the Convention, each country pledges to conserve not only the World Heritage sites situated on its territory, but also to protect its national heritage. The World Heritage Committee decides which sites will be inscribed on the World Heritage List. By March 2012, the list includes 962 properties which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value forming part of the cultural and natural heritage of the world. The Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party intends to consider for nomination on the World Heritage List in the future.
The Convention also provides for a List of World Heritage in Danger, which is designed to inform the international community of conditions threatening the characteristics under which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action. Armed conflict and war are considered a great danger to the world heritage. Under the Convention, the World Heritage Committee can inscribe on the List of World Heritage in Danger properties whose protection requires ‘major operations (…) and for which assistance has been requested’. Inscription of a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger requires the World Heritage Committee to develop and adopt, in consultation with the State Party concerned, a programme for corrective measures, and subsequently to monitor the situation of the site. All efforts must be made to restore the site’s values in order to enable its removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger as soon as possible. The States Parties to the Convention should inform the Committee as soon as possible about threats to their sites. On the other hand, private individuals, non-governmental organizations, or other groups may also draw the Committee’s attention to existing threats. If the alert is justified and the problem serious enough, the Committee may consider including the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger allows the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. In extreme cases, such as when a World Heritage Site is endangered and no apt actions are taken a site can be removed from the list and consequently loose its status as a World Heritage Site.