International Council on Monuments and Sites
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|Services||Conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world|
|Key people||Gustavo Araoz (President); Kirsti Kovanen (Secretary General); Laura Robinson (Treasurer General); Vacant (Director General)|
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) (French: Conseil international des monuments et des sites) is a professional association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world. ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw as a result of the Venice Charter of 1964, and offers advice to UNESCO on World Heritage Sites.
The idea behind ICOMOS dates to the Athens Conference on the restoration of historic buildings in 1931, organized by the International Museums Office. The Athens Charter of 1931 introduced the concept of international heritage. In 1964, the Second Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings, meeting in Venice, adopted 13 resolutions. The first created the International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, better known as Venice Charter; the second, put forward by UNESCO, created ICOMOS to carry out this charter.
ICOMOS currently has over 7,500 members. With rare exceptions, each member must be qualified in the field of conservation, and a practicing landscape architect, architect, archaeologist, anthropologist, town planner, engineer, administrator of heritage, historian, art historian, palaeontologist or archivist. Its international headquarters are in Paris.
ICOMOS is a partner in the International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), which works to protect the world's cultural heritage threatened by wars and natural disasters.
ICOMOS is composed of its National Committees (NCs), to which individuals and institutions apply for membership. In addition to the National Committees, ICOMOS has a series of International Scientific Committees (ISCs), in which experts in certain field of activity within the context of heritage conservation exchange and debate.
The organization is headed by a President, 5 Vice-Presidents, a Secretary-General and Treasurer all directly elected by the general Assembly of the organization. 12 additional Members are also elected by the General Assembly into the Executive Committee and 5 further members are co-opted into the Executive Board in order to represent regions of the world or areas of expertise that were not part of the Executive Committee following the elections. Ex officio members of the Executive Committee are the President of the Advisory Committee and the previous Presidents of ICOMOS, who attend in advisory capacity. The Executive Committee is the executive body of ICOMOS.
The Advisory Committee is composed of the Chairpersons of the National Committees, the Chairpersons of the International Scientific Committees and the President of ICOMOS as an ex officio member. The Advisory Committee was given the task to advise and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the Executive Committee on matters which concern policy and programme priorities.
National Committees are subsidiary organizations created in the countries which are members of UNESCO. They bring together individual and institutional members and offer them a framework for discussion and an exchange of information. ICOMOS currently has over 110 National Committees. Each National Committee adopts its own rules of procedure and elaborates its own program according to the goals and aims of ICOMOS. ICOMOS National Committees have been formed in the following countries:
- Bosnia Herzegovina
- Congo (Republic of)
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- Korea (Republic of)
- North Korea
- New Zealand
- El Salvador
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
 Usually known as ‘International Scientific Committees’ (ISCs), these entities focus on specialised areas of heritage conservation and are made up of members of the organisation drawn from those specialist areas. The scientific programmes of the organisation are coordinated by the ‘Scientific Council’ made up of the Presidents of ISCs. The following ISCs operate within ICOMOS:
- Analysis and Restoration of Structures of Architectural Heritage (ISCARSAH)
- Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM)
- Cultural Landscapes ICOMOS-IFLA (ISCCL)
- Cultural Routes (CIIC)
- Cultural Tourism (ICTC)
- Earthen Architectural Heritage (ISCEAH)
- Economics of Conservation (ISEC)
- Fortifications and Military Heritage (IcoFort)
- Heritage Documentation (CIPA)
- Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH)
- Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (ICIP)
- Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICICH)
- Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues (ICLAFI)
- Mural (Wall) Painting
- International Polar Heritage Committee (IPHC)
- Risk Preparedness (ICORP)
- Rock Art (CAR)
- Shared Built Heritage (ISCSBH)
- Stained Glass (ISCV)
- Stone (ISCS)
- Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration
- International Training Committee (CIF)
- Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH)
- Vernacular Architecture (CIAV)
- Wood (IWC)
- 20th Century Heritage (ISC20C)
ICOMOS charters and doctrinal texts
In the tradition of the Athens and Venice Charters ICOMOS has in the years since its formation developed and adopted a number of other charters and doctrinal texts which provide guidance to heritage conservation professionals in their work. Most such documents are created by the international committees of the organisation and thereafter adopted by the triennial General Assembly. The texts each address a specific area of professional practice in the heritage conservation professions. Following the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly held in Paris in November 2011, the list of charters is as follows:
- Historic Gardens (Florence Charter) 1981
- Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas (Washington Charter) 1987
- Charter for the Protection and Management of Archaeological Heritage 1990
- Charter on the Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage 1996
- International Cultural Tourism Charter - Managing Tourism at Places of Heritage Significance 1999
- Principles for the Preservation of Timber Structures 1999
- Charter on the Built Vernacular Heritage 1999
- ICOMOS Charter - Principles for the Analysis, Conservation and Structural Restoration of Architectural Heritage 2003
- ICOMOS Principles for the Preservation and Conservation-Restoration of Wall Paintings 2003
- ICOMOS Charter on Cultural Routes 2008
- ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (also known as the 'Ename Charter') 2008
- Joint ICOMOS – TICCIH Principles for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage Sites, Structures, Areas and Landscapes 2011
- The Valletta Principles for the Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas 2011 (Supersedes the Washington Charter)
In addition to the above there are fourteen other doctrinal texts. These include the 'Nara Document'.
Many of the national committees of ICOMOS have adopted their own charters which set standards for heritage conservation practice at national level.
ICOMOS and the World Heritage Convention
In 1972, ICOMOS was named by the UNESCO World Heritage Convention as one of the three formal advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee, along with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). As the professional and scientific adviser to the Committee on all aspects of the cultural heritage, ICOMOS is responsible for the evaluation of all nominations of cultural properties made to the World Heritage List with the criteria laid down by the World Heritage Committee. In addition to the basic criterion of “outstanding universal value,” ICOMOS evaluates nominations for aspects related to authenticity, management, and conservation as specified in the World Heritage Convention.
The evaluation of nominations involves consultation between the wide-ranging expertise represented by the organization’s membership and its National and Scientific Committees. Members are also sent on expert missions to carry out on-site evaluations of nominated properties. This extensive consultation results in the preparation of detailed recommendations that are submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its annual meetings.
ICOMOS is also involved, through its International Secretariat and its National and Scientific Committees, in the preparation of reports on the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. It advises the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on requests for technical assistance received from States that are party to (i.e. have ratified) the World Heritage Convention. ICOMOS maintains a full archive of nominations and reports at the Documentation Centre of its Paris headquarters.
Nara Document on Authenticity
In November 1994, at the Nara Conference on Authenticity, ICOMOS published the Nara Document on Authenticity, which addresses the need for a broader understanding of cultural diversity and cultural heritage in conservation efforts involving cultural heritage sites.
- "ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-22.
- Article 12,ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow
- "Members of the Advisory Committee". International.icomos.org. Retrieved 2014-02-28.
- Article 14, ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow
- "List of International Scientific Committees". ICOMOS. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- "CHARTERS ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF ICOMOS". ICOMOS. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- "Cultural Heritage Policy Documents: The Nara Document on Authenticity (1994)". The Getty Conservation Institute. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- "Nara Document on Authenticity, Experts meeting". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- ICOMOS Database, unesco.org
- Friends of World Heritage Non-profit organization that identifies projects that support local tourism enterprises that can help alleviate poverty and conserve World Heritage sites.
- The Nara Document on Authenticity (1994)