The official authorities

The state's official authorities tasked with protecting nature and the homeland are the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). They are responsible for monitoring and providing scientific support for the World Heritage sites. The Swiss Commission for UNESCO (SCU) coordinates all the parties involved in Switzerland, oversees the World Heritage sites in general and raises public awareness of the value of World Heritage. The UNESCO section of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is responsible for institutional relationships at international level. The permanent Swiss delegation at UNESCO in Paris maintains diplomatic relations with the various bodies of UNESCO. Locally, the individual Site Managers are responsible for maintaining and promoting the cultural and natural sites, with the assistance of scientific, cultural, political and tourist organisations and in partnership with the local population.

Acceptance on to the UNESCO World Heritage list

By signing the World Heritage Convention, the contracting states acknowledge their international obligation to protect the World Heritage sites located within their borders and preserve them for future generations. The other signatory states help, to the best of their abilities, to protect these sites that form part of the global heritage of mankind

The process of selecting natural or cultural sites for the UNESCO World Heritage list begins with the identification of potential sites. The procedure is based on what are called tentative lists, drawn up by the parties to the Convention. It is up to each party to the Convention to record and identify those sites within its territory which seem to be suitable for inclusion on the World Heritage list. Cultural or natural heritage sites can only be included on the list at the suggestion of parties to the Convention. Entry on the list requires the approval of the government in question.

The decision as to which of the proposed sites are included on the World Heritage list is made by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. It is assisted by three advisory specialist committees:  the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the International Centre for the Study ofthe Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In making its selection, the committee is guided by the criteria defined in the Convention. The most important selection criterion is the outstanding and universal value of a cultural or natural heritage site. The selection criteria are further defined in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. The key criteria are the uniqueness, authenticity (genuinely historic sites) and integrity (intactness) of the site.