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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

A history of recent US World Heritage nominations


The United States resumed making nominations to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009, after a period of 15 years during which no nominations had been made.  In the US, the National Park Service’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) is responsible for the World Heritage Program, under the authority of the Department of the Interior.  OIA manages the process to identify candidate sites for nomination, and guides the preparation of nominations, which are now lengthy documents, similar to a book in size and scope.  The small office has overseen seven World Heritage nominations during this recent era; of those, four have been inscribed on the World Heritage list, one was withdrawn, and two are in process.  This article describes the little-known processes involved in World Heritage nominations and the issues, including the international context, that influence their selection and ultimate success or failure.

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