Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Maria Ivanova

Second Advisor

Stacy VanDeveer

Third Advisor

Dolly Daftary


For almost 50 years, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention Concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage has created a multilateral framework that aims at the protection of the world’s most valuable sites. The underlying structures that support the goal of this convention include actors on the global, national and local level. While these actors are critical to the preservation of World Heritage Sites, very limited research is available that assesses their role and the importance of governmental and managerial structures on a holistic level. This study creates an empirical assessment of different governance structures and shows how they influence protective efforts. The basis of this assessment is the World Heritage Site Index, which assesses almost 1000 World Heritage Sites on an individual basis for a comparative evaluation. Utilizing a mixed methods approach, the World Heritage Site Index is first assessed through statistical measures, which creates a comprehensive overview of key factors impacting governance and management at World Heritage Sites. Following is a qualitative evaluation of 10 different countries from different regions of the world. Here, the results of the statistical assessments are set into context of real-world examples and structures. As a result, this study exemplifies the most significant underlying structures as well as their practical implications. It further shows how such structures differ between cultural and natural sites and whether such potential differences matter. While the field of World Heritage is subject to immense research from various perspectives, ranging from archaeology to ecology and urban planning to political sciences and cultural anthropology, this study bridges the gap between such areas within the field and creates a perspective that focuses on all World Heritage Sites and not just a selected group or type.


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