Former UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The delisted Dresden Elbe Valley

The designation of World Heritage Site is a highly prestigious affair.[1][2] Such a designation bestows not only honor but also has economic implications as it enhances tourism.

World Heritage Sites may lose their designation when the UNESCO World Heritage Committee determines that the designated site is not properly managed or protected. First, however, the committee would place a site it is concerned about on its list of World Heritage in Danger of losing their designation and attempt to negotiate with the local authorities to remedy the situation. If remediation fails, the committee then revokes its designation.

A country may also request to reduce the boundaries of one of its existing sites, in effect partially or fully delisting such properties. Under the World Heritage guidelines, a country must report to the committee whenever one of its properties "inscribed on the World Heritage List has seriously deteriorated, or when the necessary corrective measures have not been taken."[3]

Two sites have been completely delisted from the World Heritage List: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany.

Delisted sites

Oman, 2007

In 2007, Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was the first site to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage List.[4] The sanctuary had become a World Heritage Site in 1994. Poaching and habitat degradation had nearly wiped out the Oryx population. The delisting was done in accordance with the wishes of the government that reduced the sanctuary by 90 percent after oil had been found at the site.[5] Only four breeding pairs of oryx were counted at the time of the removal of the designation.[6]

Germany, 2009

On June 25, 2009 the committee of UNESCO voted to remove the status of World Heritage Site of the Dresden Elbe Valley on the basis that the Waldschlösschen Bridge that was under construction since 2007 would bisect the valley.[7] The 20km long site had been selected as a World Heritage Site in 2004. The delisting was preceded by a long and protracted struggle between local Dresden authorities in favour of the bridge and their opponents. A referendum had been conducted in 2005 about building the bridge without informing the voters that the UNESCO designation was at stake.[8] In 2006 the site was placed on the endangered list until 2008, at which time a one-year extension was granted. When the construction of the bridge continued, a second extension was declined and at its 2009 meeting in Seville the committee voted 14 to 5 to delist the site. This represents only the second delisting of a World Heritage Site.[9][10] While a majority of local residents polled indicated that Dresden's UNESCO title was unnecessary, the delisting removed funding to support the site and has been termed an "embarrassment".[9] The Waldschlösschen Bridge was officially opened in 2013.[11]

Partially delisted sites

Georgia, 2017

UNESCO removed Bagrati Cathedral from its World Heritage Sites in 2017, considering its major reconstruction detrimental to its integrity and authenticity. Both it and Gelati Monastery were inscribed as a joint World Heritage Site in 1994, then added to the endangered list in 2010. The World Heritage Committee voted in 2017 to retain Gelati Monastery on the list but exclude Bagrati Cathedral.[12]


  1. ^ "UNESCO strips Dresden of World Heritage site title". Reuters. 2009-06-25.
  2. ^ "Mexico to propose San Luis Potosi as UNESCO World Heritage Site". Sina.com. 2009-06-18. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
  3. ^ "The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 14 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017. Section IV.C.193
  4. ^ "Arabian Oryx Sanctuary: UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  5. ^ People's Daily Online. (June 26, 2009). "Germany's Dresden deleted from UNESCO's World Heritage List". Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  6. ^ "UNESCO removes Oman oryx sanctuary from heritage list". Reuters. June 30, 2007. Retrieved June 25, 2009.
  7. ^ "Dresden Elbe Valley: UNESCO World Heritage Centre". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  8. ^ Winter, Steffen (June 26, 2009). "Aberkennung des Welterbe-Titels: Faustrecht und Barock" [Withdrawal of World Heritage Title: Bullying and Baroque]. Spiegel Online (in German). Retrieved June 26, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Connolly K and The Guardian offices. (June 25, 2009). "Bridge takes Dresden off Unesco world heritage list". Retrieved June 27, 2009.
  10. ^ "Dresden is deleted from UNESCO's World Heritage List". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2009-06-25. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-27. Dresden is only the second property ever to have been removed from the World Heritage List. The Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was delisted in 2007.
  11. ^ (in German) "Umstrittene Waldschlößchenbrücke eröffnet", Spiegel Online, 24 August 2013
  12. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre (10 July 2017). "Gelati Monastery, Georgia, removed from UNESCO's List of World Heritage in Danger". unesco. Retrieved 14 July 2017.

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