To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must satisfy the selection criteria. Revised regularly by the World Heritage Committee, the criteria have evolved to match the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.
The criteria for inclusion of cultural properties on the World Heritage List should always be seen in relation to one another and should be considered in the context of the definition set out in Article 1 of the Convention.
A monument, group of buildings or site which is nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List will be considered to be of outstanding universal value for the purpose of the Convention when the Committee finds that it meets one or more of the following criteria and the test of authenticity. These criteria are defined by the Committee in its Operational Guidelines. Each property nominated should:
i. represent a masterpiece of human creative genius; or
ii. 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; or
iii. bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared; or
iv. be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; or
v. be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or land-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change; or
vi. 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 justify inclusion in the List only in exceptional circumstances and in conjunction with other criteria cultural or natural).
A natural heritage property - as defined in Article 2 of the Convention - which is submitted for inclusion in the World Heritage List will be considered to be of outstanding universal value for the purposes of the Convention when the Committee finds that it meets one or more of the following criteria specified by Operational Guidelines and fulfilling the conditions of integrity set out below. Sites nominated should:
i. 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; or
ii. be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals; or
iii. contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance; or
iv. 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.