International Council on Monuments and Sites

International Council on Monuments and Sites
Founded 1965 (1965)
Type Professional Body
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. Now headquartered in Paris, 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 9,500 individual members in 144 countries, 110 national committees and 28 international scientific committees.[1] 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.

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 structure

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 a certain field of activity within the context of heritage conservation exchange views and debate.[2]

The organization is headed by a president, five vice-presidents, a secretary-general and a 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 five 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.[3] 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

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 has national committees in 108 countries as of August 2015.[4] Each national committee adopts its own rules of procedure and elaborates its own program according to the goals and aims of ICOMOS.

International committees

[5] 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 the ISCs. The following ISCs operate within ICOMOS:[6]

  • 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:[7]

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.[7]

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 International Union for Conservation of Nature (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 at 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.[8][9]

Piero Gazzola award

In 1979, ICOMOS instituted its highest award, named after its first president, Piero Gazzola, to laud the life-time achievements of one of its members. The prize is awarded every three years, and comprises a commemorative medal, a diploma and 10,000 US dollars.[10]

List of awardees

List of ICOMOS General Assemblies and Presidents

ICOMOS General Assemblies, Presidents & Secretaries General[17][18]
Nr. Time General Assembly Term President Secretary General
19. 2017 Delhi  India 2017-2020
18. 2014 Florence  Italy 2014-2017 Gustavo Araoz  United States Kirsti Kovanen  Finland
17. 2011 Paris  France 2011-2014 Gustavo Araoz  United States Kirsti Kovanen  Finland
16. 2008 Québec  Canada 2008-2011 Gustavo Araoz  United States Bénédicte Selfslagh  Belgium
15. 2005 Xi'an  China 2005-2008 Michael Petzet  Germany Dinu Bumbaru  Canada
14. 2003 Victoria Falls  Zimbabwe
13. 2002 Madrid  Spain 2002-2005 Michael Petzet  Germany Dinu Bumbaru  Canada
12. 1999 Mexico City  Mexico 1999-2002 Michael Petzet  Germany Jean-Louis Luxen  Belgium
11. 1996 Sofia  Bulgaria 1996-1999 Roland Silva  Sri Lanka Jean-Louis Luxen  Belgium
10. 1993 Colombo  Sri Lanka 1993-1996 Roland Silva  Sri Lanka Jean-Louis Luxen  Belgium
9. 1990 Lausanne   Switzerland 1990-1993 Roland Silva  Sri Lanka Herb Stovel  Canada
8. 1987 Washington D.C.  United States 1987-1990 Roberto di Stefano  Italy Helmut Stelzer  East Germany
7. 1984 Rostok  East Germany 1984-1987 Michel Parent  France Abdelaziz Daoulatli  Tunisia
6. 1981 Rome  Italy 1981-1984 Michel Parent  France Abdelaziz Daoulatli  Tunisia
5. 1978 Moscow  Soviet Union 1978-1981 Raymond Lemaire  Belgium Ernest Allen Connaly  United States
4. 1975 Rothenburg ob der Tauber  Germany 1975-1978 Raymond Lemaire  Belgium Ernest Allen Connaly  United States
3. 1972 Budapest  Hungary 1972-1975 Piero Gazzola  Italy Raymond Lemaire  Belgium
2. 1969 Oxford  United Kingdom 1969-1972 Piero Gazzola  Italy Raymond Lemaire  Belgium
1. 1965 Cracow  Poland 1965-1969 Piero Gazzola  Italy Raymond Lemaire  Belgium


  1. "Introducing ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites". Retrieved 2015-11-29.
  2. "ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  3. Article 12,ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow
  4. "Members of the Advisory Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-05.
  5. Article 14, ICOMOS Statutes, adopted by the Vth General Assembly on 22 May 1978 in Moscow
  6. "List of International Scientific Committees". ICOMOS. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  8. "Cultural Heritage Policy Documents: The Nara Document on Authenticity (1994)". The Getty Conservation Institute. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  9. "Nara Document on Authenticity, Experts meeting". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
  10. Awards, honors & prizes: International and foreign. 2. Gale Group. 2001. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-7876-3405-6.
  11. 1 2 3 4 "Dr E.A. Connally honored by the International Preservation Community" (PDF). Cultural Resource Management. 19 (9): 44. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  12. Sacré, Dirk; Tournoy, Gilbert, eds. (2000). Myricae: Essays on Neo-Latin Literature in Memory of Josef IJsewijn. Leuven University. p. 98. ISBN 978-90-5867-054-0.
  13. 1 2 3 4 Rössler, Mechtild; Cameron, Christina (2013). Many Voices, One Vision: The Early Years of the World Heritage Convention. Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-8477-6.
  14. Madeleine, Regan, ed. (2005). "US/ICOMOS advises World's Top Heritage Preservation Prize Awarded In China" (PDF). e-Newsletter. World Archaeological Council. 7: 47. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  15. "Ann W. Smith, 81; World-Renowned Preservationist". The Washington Post. April 28, 2006.
  16. "Henry Cleere awarded prestigious Gazzola Prize" (Press release). UCL Institute of Architecture. January 27, 2015. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  17. ICOMOS Past Presidents. Retrieved 12/12/2015.
  18. ICOMOS General Assemblies. Retrieved 12/12/2015.
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