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UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Last modified: 2014-05-29 by zoltán horváth
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[UNESCO World Heritage Sites]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 July 2010

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Description of the flag

There is a flag in use, white with the logo in red, surrounded by the name of the program in three languages. English, Swedish and Spanish:, but also  English, French and German, or (official languages) English, French and Spanish at
I used this version to create the image above in 2:3 ratio.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 3 July 2010

There's a variant of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites flag seen here:
Notice the writing on the top is in Indonesia, thus, it seems that the top writing on the flag corresponds to the local City/Place that is actually being selected to become one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I come to this conclusion since the article above refers to Indonesian religious sites.
Esteban Rivera, 31 May 2011

This is simply the version with English, Swedish and Spanish, which is the first mentioned by António on our page (in fact, he gives what was probably the original source for that photo - it was reportedly taken at Karlskrona, Sweden). As António says, the image on our page shows the official languages to be used in the Emblem: English, French and Spanish - "WORLD HERITAGE . PATRIMOINE MONDIAL" and "PATRIMONIO MUNDIAL". Section VIII of the /Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention deals with the World Heritage Emblem. Paragraph 259 reads:

"The Committee decided that the Emblem proposed by the artist could be used, in any colour or size, depending on the use, the technical possibilities and considerations of an artistic nature. The Emblem should always carry the text "WORLD HERITAGE . PATRIMOINE MONDIAL". The space occupied by "PATRIMONIO MUNDIAL" can be used for its translation into the national language of the country where the Emblem is to be used."

It seems that the version on the flag at Karlskrona replaced the wrong language. While it makes some sense to show the version with the default Emblem, we only provide evidence that the Swedish version appears on a flag, let alone in this particular arrangement.
A photo at Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia shows a flag that seems to be UN blue with the graphical part of the emblem (no text) in white. (For context, according to this page, a flag signifiying the WH status was raised during border conflict to protect the site - unsuccessfully.
A presentation on the Sundarbans says "The Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina hoisted the Blue Flag of World Heritage Site and unveiled the plaque at Hiron Point (Nilkamal) of the Sundarbans on the 4th February 1999 (Nuruzzaman and others 1999)."
A report for the World Heritage Committee on 1997 activities tells us "[S]pecial events included the launching of an information campaign for the 25th Anniversary of the Convention held in September during the two-day French National Heritage Day (Journées du patrimoine). The World Heritage flag and information material were made available to the 22 inscribed sites in France...", but there is no indication of the design of the flag.
Alternatively, there are mentions of the use of the flag of the UN itself to represent WH status at three sites in Canada: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, L'Anse aux Meadows and Dinosaur Provincial Park.
The Emblem itself is describe in the /Operating Guidelines/ paragraph 258:

"At its second session (Washington, 1978), the Committee adopted the World Heritage Emblem which had been designed by Mr. Michel Olyff. This Emblem symbolizes the interdependence of cultural and natural properties: the central square is a form created by man and the circle represents nature, the two being intimately linked. The Emblem is round, like the world, but at the same time it is a symbol of protection. It symbolizes the Convention, signifies the adherence of States Parties to the Convention, and serves to identify properties inscribed in the World Heritage List. It is associated with public knowledge about the Convention and is the imprimatur of the Convention's credibility and prestige. Above all, it is a representation of the universal values for which the Convention stands."

Jonathan Dixon
, 31 May 2011