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International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
History and Background

Historic background
From the emergence of the concept of world heritage
To the creation of ICOMOS

Until the end of the 19th century, architectural heritage had been a matter of national concern only et most of the laws regarding the protection of historic buildings in Europe date back to that period. Countless association existed in each country, but their scope never went beyond national borders. Cultural internationalism, as we know it today, was an outcome of the first World War, with the creation of the League of Nations, and most of all of the second World War, with the creation of the United Nations Organisation and the establishment of the UNESCO.

The Athens Conference (1931) on restoration of historic buildings was organised by the International Museums Office, and the Athens Charter, drafted by Le Corbusier at the fourth Assembly of the International congresses on Modern Architecture (1933) was published anonymously in Paris in 1941 both represent a major step in the evolution of ideas because they reflect a growing consciousness among specialists all over the world, and introduced for the first time in history the concept of international heritage.

The Venice Charter was born from the need to create an association of specialists of conservation and restoration independent of the already existing associations of museologists, ICOM.
In 1957, in Paris, the First Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings recommended that the countries which still lack a central organisation for the protection of historic buildings provide for the establishment of such an authority and, in the name of UNESCO, that all member states of UNESCO join the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) based in Rome.

The Second Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings, in Venice in 1964, adopted 13 resolutions, the first one being the International Restoration Charter, better known as Venice Charter, and the second one, put forward by UNESCO



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 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.

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