ICOMOS International

IWTN-Youghal-presentation Page 12 Image 0007The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a non governmental organisation working to promote the application of theory, methodology and scientific techniques to the conservation of architectural and archaeological heritage.

ICOMOS is a global network of professionals, practitioners, supporters, and organisations that benefit from interdisciplinary exchange in the field of cultural heritage, drawing together architects, archaeologists, art historians, geographers, engineers and town planners. ICOMOS International bring together almost 9500 heritage professionals in over 110 countries.

ICOMOS consists of the General Assembly, the Advisory Committee, the Executive Committee, the Bureau and the International Secretariat which has its headquarters in Paris. ICOMOS also consists of National Committees (currently 110) which are created at the national level.

At the international level ICOMOS has a role in the evaluation of all nominations of cultural and mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites as one of the advisory bodies to UNESCO under the World Heritage Convention.



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ICOMOS was founded in 1965 in Warsaw, one year after the signature of the Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter, 1964) which stipulated the need for international principles guiding conservation:

'Imbued with a message from the past, the historic monuments of generations of people remain to the present day as living witnesses to their age old traditions. People are becoming more and more conscious of the unity of human values and regard ancient monuments as a common heritage. The common responsibility to safeguard them for future generations is recognised. It is our duty to hand them on in the full richness of their authenticity. It is therefore essential that the principles guiding the preservation and restoration of ancient building should be agreed and be laid down on an international basis with each country being responsible for applying the plan within the framework of its own culture and traditions.



ICOMOS has issued a series of international charters and principles dealing with the conservation and protection of the cultural heritage. It also continues to investigate the publication of new charters and tools for conservation.



  • to bring together conservation specialists from all over the world and serve as a forum for professional dialogue and exchange;
  • to collect, evaluate and disseminate information on conservation principles, techniques and policies;
  • to co-operate with national and international authorities on the establishment of documentation centres specialising in conservation;
  • to work for the adoption and implementation of international conventions on the conservation and enhancement of our archaeological and architectural heritage;
  • to participate in the organisation of training programmes for conservation specialists on a world-wide scale;
  • to put expertise of highly qualified professionals and specialists at the service of the international community.



  • the strengthening of its presence world-wide by encouraging the creation and growth of ICOMOS National Committees;
  • extending the influence of the Venice Charter by creating flexible doctrinal texts for specific sectors our built heritage;
  • defining adaptable management techniques for cultural properties;
  • developing training programmes on a multilateral basis involving the collaboration of National and International



  • enriching ICOMOS International Documentation Centre in Paris and setting up video and slide libraries devoted to archaeological and architectural heritage;
  • organising and managing expert missions at the request of heritage administration and legal entities which judge necessary the intervention of a consultant for a particular conservation question;
  • playing a vital role in counselling UNESCO on those cultural properties to be included on the World Heritage List and on the reporting of the state of conservation of the properties already listed;
  • reaching specialists by means of wide distribution of the organisation's quarterly newsletter, ICOMOS News, its Scientific Journal, the publication series "Monuments and Sites" on the heritage of particular countries and the publishing of conference proceedings;
  • awaking public interest in conservation by encouraging media coverage and the celebration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites (18 April).



ICOMOS is a two-tier organisation with an international organisation based in Paris and national committees. Each individual member assists in the work of ICOMOS through promoting its programme of work and contributing to the work of their national committees.

On the basis of the Venice Charter, several of the national committees of ICOMOS have independently developed charters dealing with specific aspects of the protection of monuments and sites. Following a process of consultation, these charters have been adopted by ICOMOS internationally. They include such charters as, for example, the National Committee of Australia’s “Burra Charter” and the “Appleton Charter” of the National Committee of Canada. In addition, ICOMOS has prepared other charters on the topics such as the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas and the Conservation of Historic Gardens.

There is a website for ICOMOS on the Internet www.icomos.org. This site provides up to date information on the activities of ICOMOS, information about national committees and access to the ICOMOS Documentation Centre in Paris.



The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. ICOMOS is recognised in the World Heritage Convention as one of its three formal advisory bodies to the World Heritage Committee. As such, ICOMOS is responsible for the evaluation of nominations of cultural properties submitted by the Member States for inclusion on the World Heritage List. It also participates in the work of reporting on the state of conservation and management of properties already inscribed in the List. This involves both systematic reporting, at the request of the World Heritage Committee and of the governments of countries that are party to the Convention, and reactive reporting, where the cultural values for which properties in inscribed on the List are threatened by natural phenomena or human activities.

There are more than four hundred cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List. ICOMOS is actively involved in thematic and comparative studies, technical assistance and training missions. It also prepared reports on the state of conservation and management of listed cultural properties.



The members of ICOMOS develop the main objectives of the organisation through the work of 28 specialised International Scientific Committees. This work leads to:

  • The international exchange of scientific information
  • The development of charters on the principles of conservation
  • The participation in joint projects internationally by experts drawn for a wide range of professional disciplines

See a list of the present ICOMOS International Scientific committees 



National Committees are created at the national level 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, elaborates its own program according to the goals and aims of ICOMOS and implements the programs proposed by the Advisory and Executive Committees of ICOMOS.

ICOMOS National Committees provide a forum where individuals and representatives of institutions concerned with heritage matters can meet to exchange information and views on principles and practices in the field. Each national committee represents the interests of its members, both nationally and internationally. National committees can undertake specific activities on their own initiatives or at the request of their Governments. National committees are a channel through which individual specialists in each country take part in ICOMOS' international activities including, for example, specific missions entrusted to ICOMOS by UNESCO.

Through the annual meetings of the ICOMOS Advisory Committee, national committees can exert a decisive influence on the programme priorities of ICOMOS. National committees can also volunteer to take responsibility (in close co-operation with the ICOMOS International Secretariat in Paris) for some part of ICOMOS' international programme, which is of particular concern to their country.

Each national committee must agree to accept the Statutes of ICOMOS. In addition, its own statutes should conform with national requirements and practices and they must be submitted to the ICOMOS Executive Committee for ratification. National committees should operate to comply with the Dubrovnik Guidelines.

Presidents of ICOMOS National Committees are elected or appointed from among their members. The President is responsible for calling at least one meeting of the national committee each year. Other officers elected by the Committee may assist the President and committees are urged to have a Secretary or a Secretary-Treasurer. Presidents of National Committees are automatically members of the ICOMOS Advisory Committee and are expected to attend and to take part in its annual meeting.

Each National Committee is made up of four categories of membership: individual, institutional, sustaining and honorary members. All the members must be qualified in the field of conservation, practicing the profession of architect, archaeologist, town planner, engineer, administrator of heritage, art historian or archivist. Individual membership may be granted in exceptional cases to other individuals interested in supporting the aims and objectives of ICOMOS.

All National Committee members have the right to attend and to participate in the ICOMOS General Assembly, which is normally held every three years. The 18th ICOMOS General Assembly will be held in Florence in November 2014.





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