World Heritage listing process
Only the Australian Government can nominate Australian places for entry on this list. The World Heritage Committee assesses nominated places against set criteria and makes the final decision as to the places that are included on the World Heritage List. World Heritage sites in Australia are protected under Australian Government law and in most cases under relevant State law also.
Nominations have to be received by the World Heritage Committee Secretariat at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris by 1 February each year for consideration by the Committee in the following year.
The World Heritage Committee conducts the assessment process according to a set of rules of procedures and operational guidelines that ensure objectivity, consistency and professionalism. These operational guidelines are updated periodically.
The assessment process follows these steps:
- Nominations are received by the World Heritage Committee Secretariat.
- Nominations are listed in priority order by the World Heritage Committee to ensure the World Heritage List is truly representative of the world's outstanding natural and cultural places.
- Nominations are referred to the World Heritage Centre to commence the assessment process. The Centre is assisted in this task by international non-government organisations that are asked to provide impartial professional evaluations of each nomination. The International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) are the advisory bodies for cultural properties, while the World Conservation Union (IUCN) advises on natural properties. In addition, these organisations consult with relevant scientific and technical experts from around the world.
- The evaluations undertaken by these advisory bodies are considered by the World Heritage Committee, at its annual meeting, which considers the Bureau's recommendations and evaluations from the non-government organisations and makes a decision on the inscription of the property.
World Heritage nomination and listing processes are rigorous, and many nominations have been withdrawn or rejected because they fail the assessment process.