UNESCO's World Heritage Committee meets once a year for a conference called the Ordinary Session. These sessions are either held in the UNESCO Headquarters at place de Fontenoy in Paris, France, or hosted by one of the Committee Member country that is a State Party of the Convention. The sessions usually last for nine days, and has been held in the middle of the year since 2002.
Ordinary Sessions of the World Heritage Committee
The World Heritage Committee has been holding Ordinary Sessions since 1977. This is the conference in which the Committee elects its Chairperson, Rapporteur and Vice-Chairpersons. The Committee also decide, among other things, the venue and date of their subsequent session. For State Parties, the World Heritage Committee sessions are important because these are when the sites they have submitted for nomination are considered, and if found worthy, are inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
As of March 2010, the World Heritage Committee has held 33 ordinary sessions, with the 34th session to take place in Brasilia, Brazil, on 25 July to 3 August, 2010. Apart from the first session in 1977, the sessions from 1978 until 2001 were all held towards the end of the year. From 2002 onwards, they were moved back to the middle of the year.
The sessions of the World Heritage Committee have also gotten longer. In the early years, the Committee Members meet for only 5 days. In recent years, the sessions has stretched to nine days, and in the upcoming on in Brasilia, will be held for ten.
The following is a list of the ordinary sessions that have been held so far, starting with the most recent, going back to the first:
- 34th session: Brasilia, Brazil, 25 July - 3 August, 2010
- 33rd session: Seville, Spain, 22 - 30 June, 2009
- 32nd session: Quebec City, Canada, 2 - 10 July, 2008
- 31st session: Christchurch, New Zealand, 23 June - 2 July, 2007
- 30th session: Vilnius, Lithuania, 9 - 16 July, 2006
- 29th session: Durban, South Australia, 10 - 17 July, 2005
- 28th session: Suzhou, China, 28 June - 7 July, 2004
- 27th session: Paris, France, 29 June - 5 July, 2003
- 26th session: Budapest, Hungary, 24 - 29 June 2002
- 25th session: Helsinki, Finland, 11 - 16 December, 2001
- 24th session: Cairns, Australia, 27 November - 2 December, 2000
- 23rd session: Marrakesh, Morocco, 29 November - 4 December, 1999
- 22nd session: Kyoto, Japan, 30 November - 5 December, 1998
- 21st session: Naples, Italy, 1 - 6 December, 1977
- 20th session: Mérida, Mexico, 2 - 7 December, 1996
- 19th session: Berlin, Germany, 4 - 9 December, 1995
- 18th session: Phuket, Thailand, 12 - 17 December, 1994
- 17th session: Cartagena, Colombia, 6 - 11 December, 1993
- 16th session: Santa Fe, USA, 7 - 11 December, 1992
- 15th session: Carthage, Tunisia, 9 - 13 December, 1991
- 14th session: Banff, Canada, 7 - 12 December, 1990
- 13th session: Paris, France, 11 - 15 December, 1989
- 12th session: Brasilia, Brazil, 5 - 9 December, 1988
- 11th session: Paris, France, 7 - 11 December, 1987
- 10th session: Paris, France, 24 - 28 November, 1986
- 9th session: Paris, France, 2 - 6 December, 1985
- 8th session: Buenos Aires, Argentina, 29 October - 2 November, 1984
- 7th session: Florence, Italy, 5 - 9 December, 1983
- 6th session: Paris, France, 13 - 17 December, 1982
- 5th session: Sydney, Australia, 26 - 30 October, 1981
- 4th session: Paris, France, 1 - 5 September, 1980
- 3rd session: Luxor, Egypt, 22 - 26 October, 1979
- 2nd session: Washington, D.C., USA, 5 - 8 September, 1978
- 1st session: Paris, France, 27 June - 1 July, 1977
Extraordinary Sessions of the World Heritage Committee
In addition to the annual ordinary sessions, the World Heritage Committee does convene from time to time for an Extraordinary Session. So far, eight extraordinary sessions have been convened, all at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, in 1981, 1997, 1999 twice, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007. No new sites are inscribed during these extraordinary sessions.
Sessions of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee
In addition to the sessions of the World Heritage Committee, the Bureau also have its own session. The time session of the Bureau was in 2005. Before that, it usually meets about once a year.
General Assembly of States Parties
The General Assemblies of States Parties is a venue where all the representatives from countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention come together for a session together. These sessions take place once every two years, with the most recent only, the 17th session, taking place from 23 to 28 October, 2009.
The General Assemblies are usually held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France - at least, all the sessions since 1987 were held there. The sessions are the venue where new Members are elected to the World Heritage Committee.