ICOMOS Scientific Committees

Through its International Scientific Committees (ISCs), comprised of experts from around the world, as well as its triennial General Assembly, ICOMOS has established international standards for the preservation, restoration, and management of the cultural environment. At the 2005 General Assembly in China, ICOMOS ratified the Eger-Xi’an Principles(pdf file), which adopt a new membership structure for the International Scientific Committees (ISCs). See below for a list of committees and application procedures for becoming an Expert Members of ISCs.

Visit the webpages for (or email the leaders of) the ICOMOS ISCs to learn how to join individual committees.

Note: Only ICOMOS-USA International Members are eligible for ISC membership. Learn more about the benefits of becoming an International Member.

CIPA – Heritage Documentation is a joint committee set up by ICOMOS and the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS). It ensures liaison and co-operation between ICOMOS and ISPRS. CIPA’s objective is to promote recording, documentation and the study of the status and changes of cultural objects, monuments, groups of buildings, their associated environments, villages, towns, sites and cultural landscapes by means of further development of applications of photography, photogrammetry and related disciplines and techniques (such as building surveying, remote sensing, 3d laser scanning, CAD, data bank organisation, information systems, aerial and geophysical prospecting, and visualisation). CIPA actively pursues programmes which define research needs, stimulate and support research activity, and increase exchange and dissemination of relevant information in order to promote greater understanding in the field. CIPA holds regular Symposia, and promotes international co-operation in the domain of heritage documentation. Web site: http://cipa.icomos.org

The ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee (ICTC) promotes the development of international best practice management for tourism on heritage sites and historic places. Consistent with the objectives of ICOMOS, ICTC encourages the conservation community, especially those who manage heritage places, to present their sites to visitors and communicate the significance of the place in an open, informative and attractive manner. The Committee concentrates its activities in several main areas: annual workshops that address cultural tourism management issues of relevance to the international conservation community; participation in selected international missions to review the cultural tourism activities on World Heritage sites; prepare heritage places for future cultural tourism or undertake training missions for site managers and preparing publications that advance policy directions in the field. Web site: www.icomos.org/tourism

The goals of the Committee are to enhance the state of preparedness within the heritage institutions and professions in relation to disasters of natural or human origin, and to promote the better integration of the protection of heritage structures, sites or areas into the national, local as well as international disaster management, preparedness planning, mitigation and relief operations. Through the sharing of experience and the development of a professional network, the Committee aims to stimulate and support activities by ICOMOS National and International committees to improve risk preparedness in their field. ICORP is also available to support ICOMOS in its actions related to risk and heritage, in particular its role as founding partner of the International Committee of the Blue Shield. (The Committee and its description will be reviewed in 2007.)

The International Scientific Committee on Shared Built Heritage is relatively young. Started as a Scientific Committee on Shared Colonial Architecture and Town Planning in 1998, it changed its name into Shared Built Heritage in 2003 as part of a broadening of its objectives. The Committee was founded to promote awareness of the need to share the appreciation and the responsibility for built heritage. Created by different peoples, from different countries, with diverse cultural, religious and social backgrounds, in many cases this shared built heritage became a fundamental part of the national heritage and was responsible for the identity of people and nations. In other cases, it has been neglected and is threatened with destruction. Our main objective is to promote an integrated approach to conservation, which means the revitalising of dilapidated, historically valuable built-up areas and landscapes by reusing the existing building stock and infrastructure, as far as it is acceptable from a social and economic point of view. To achieve this goal, SBH is organising professional workshops, symposiums and conferences dealing with its principal objective. The first conference was held in Melaka (Malaysia) in 2003. In Melaka we discussed the treatment of built heritage which was shared between Asia and Europe. The upcoming workshop will have a much wider focus, but it is intended that issues of shared built heritage in Africa should achieve a wider airing.

The aim of the Committee is to organize International Forums on the Conservation and Technology of Historic Stained Glass on a regular basis; to constitute a network and a forum, within which many different forms of co-operation take place; to advise those responsible for the preservation of historic monuments – and other groups in charge of the conservation of historic stained glass and undertake expert services; to inform about current research within this network.

The objectives of the Committee are to promote international cooperation among experts in the identification, study and solution of legal, administrative and financial issues in connection with the recognition, protection, maintenance and conservation of monuments, groups of buildings and sites. The activities to accomplish its objective shall include in particular scientific conferences and workshops in conjunction with the meetings of the Committee, study visits, and publications. Additionally, the Committee provides advice and counsel on legal, administrative and financial issues to the General Assembly, Executive Committee, and the National and Scientific Committees. ICLAFI meets annually and publishes the proceedings of its meetings. Web site: www.icomos-iclafi.org

The IPHC was created on 1st November 2000. Its secretariat is based in Norway. The objectives of the IPHC are to promote international co-operation in the protection and conservation of non-indigenous heritage in the Arctic and Antarctic; to consult and co-operate with Arctic indigenous peoples regarding heritage of cross cultural significance; to provide a forum for interchange of experience, ideas, knowledge and the results of research between administrators, archaeologists, conservators, historians, legislators and other professionals; to promote international studies and projects; and to expand technical co-operation by fostering links with specialised institutions. A guiding principle for the work of the International Polar Heritage Committee is that “all evidence of previous human activity in the polar areas has a potential significance for the documentation and the understanding of the history of these areas and should be expertly assessed with an eye to possible designation as a cultural heritage site before being altered or removed”. It is hoped that by applying this principle, unnecessary loss of valuable cultural heritage information due to hasty decision-making will be avoided. Web site: www.polarheritage.com

ICAHM was established in 1990 to promote international cooperation in the field of archaeological heritage management and to advise ICOMOS on archaeological heritage management issues. ICAHM provides a forum for the interchange of knowledge and research among archaeologists, other professionals, and decision makers involved in the management of archaeological resources. ICAHM adheres to the goals and objectives of ICOMOS and the Eger-Xi’an principles. Web site: www.icomos.org/icahm

The aim of the Rock Art Committee is to promote international co-operation and to provide advice to ICOMOS and to UNESCO organs on their activities in the field of rock art. CAR initiates and co-ordinates world-wide actions in favour of the knowledge, the protection and rehabilitation of humankind’s rock art heritage, through activities and interventions aimed at raising the awareness of States to this heritage; by promoting international co-operation in this field; by establishing links between researchers and specialists; by providing advice to international organisations; by promoting and producing publications; by creating a world inventory of rock art; by developing traditional methods and modern digital techniques for documentation and preservation of rock art, including those which are inexpensive, non-tactile and non-intrusive, as well as protective devices. CAR has developed a draft “Charter for Rock Art” in view of its ratification as an ICOMOS doctrinal text. Furthermore, in co-operation with ICOMOS international and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Committee is developing a series of Regional Thematic Studies and Pre-Nomination Guidelines as new tools to ensure a better representation of rock art sites on the Word Heritage List in future.

The ICOMOS-IFLA International Committee is a joint committee between ICOMOS and IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects). It operates on an international basis as an International Scientific Committee of ICOMOS. Its aim is to promote understanding, conservation and wise use of landscape heritage for public and private benefit, and with the general purpose of sustaining and improving the quality of life. It operates on the basis of a 3-year program, the period between the General Assemblies of ICOMOS. It is particularly interested in the historical and cultural (human) dimensions of landscapes and also in promoting an integrated and holistic approach towards thinking about them and making decisions concerning them. In this approach, the natural dimension is fully recognized. The Committee is interested in both the physical (tangible) and the mental (intangible) aspects of landscapes. The Committee uses the word ‘landscape’ to mean landscapes of all kinds, including for example, uncultivated landscapes; cultivated rural landscapes; urbanized and industrialized landscapes; designed ornamental landscapes, parks and gardens; and the outdoor settings of buildings, structures, monuments and sites. The Committee provides specialist guidance and advice; it promotes education, training, research, and the raising of awareness. It seeks to reach the professional sector, the academic sector and the general public, and it welcomes opportunities to work in co-operation with other organizations. The Committee operates through correspondence; discussions at its meetings; publications and communications; and the organization of special meetings, including conferences, workshops and site visits, for example. The Committee advises ICOMOS on all matters relating to the conservation of cultural landscapes, including those that are nominated or designated as World Heritage sites. It can also co-operate with other committees of ICOMOS and IFLA, correspond with them and provide guidance. The Committee, where it can, will nominate representatives who can participate in discussions, meetings, conferences, events of other kinds and projects that are organized by others and prepare reports and written answers to questions. Web site: www.icomos.org/landscapes

ISCARSAH is dedicated to the study of the structural aspects of the architectural heritage. Its main aim is to promote the contribution of structural engineering in the study, conservation and restoration of heritage constructions, so that a full understanding of materials, morphology and structural response become an intrinsic part of conservation practice. ISCARSAH aims also at establishing, and regularly updating, guidelines or recommendations for the analysis and restoration of structures of architectural heritage and to disseminate the knowledge and experience acquired at the international level. ISCARSAH also cooperates in missions related to the study and conservation of heritage structures, in particular those endangered or affected by natural disasters.

The major task of the Committee is to analyze and improve the state of the art of the “Economics of Conservation of Cultural Heritage”, so as to develop new guidelines and suggestions for sustainable integrated conservation plans, programmes and projects. Cultural heritage has an increasing role in urban sustainable development strategies: sustainability, creativity and cultural heritage are considered to be strictly linked. The Committee will collect examples of “best practices” for integrated conservation in view of developing a specific database for improving tools and approaches from a multidimensional perspective. The Committee is currently developing its web site.

The need for the establishment of the CIIC arose with the emergence of routes as a new category of heritage, which the World Heritage nomination of the Camino de Santiago brought to the centre stage of international attention. A first meeting in November 1994 contributed to, but did not totally achieve, the task of delineating and defining this new category and establishing an appropriate methodology. Due to this, a group of ICOMOS members from very diverse regions of the world began to work on this topic, resulting in the creation of the CIIC in 1998. As a result of their intensive efforts and a long process of international consultations, the CIIC has developed a definition and a methodology, which is reflected in its current project for a Charter on Cultural Routes. When the Committee was established, cultural routes were a new discipline, and one in which experts were scarce. Thus, the CIIC has had a major role in expanding this new expertise to all areas of the world. Cultural routes are documented in a systematic manner and registered in a database maintained by the CIIC. The CIIC has also willingly cooperated with other ICOMOS International Committees to help them identify and document heritage sites within the multi-disciplinary context of cultural routes. Web site: www.icomos-ciic.org/

CIAV’s objective is to promote the identification, study, protection and conservation of Vernacular Architecture, in keeping with ICOMOS’ objective to foster international co-operation. CIAV forms an international network that defines, improves and promotes conservation principles, standards, research, responsible practice, innovation and knowledge about the built vernacular heritage. According to its strategy established in the year 2000, CIAV’s aims are: to offer a global view on the conservation of the vernacular heritage; to provide a forum for the examination of the built vernacular heritage and to provide specialists with advice on the conservation of the vernacular heritage. Web site: www.icomos.org/ciav

Established in 1975, the International Wood Committee aims to promote international cooperation in the field of preservation of wood in buildings and structures and to advise on the development of ICOMOS programmes in this field. IIWC shall accomplish its objective by providing a forum for the exchange of experience, ideas, knowledge, and the results of research between administrators, architects, engineers, historians, legislators, and other professionals. Furthermore, IIWC aims to coordinate existing studies; to promote further studies; to extend technical cooperation; and to establish links with specialized institutions or industrial organizations in the appropriate fields. The activities of IIWC include the organization of meetings, the preparation of publications, and the gathering and dissemination of information. Web site: www.icomos.org/iiwc/

The aims of the Committee are to: stimulate international interest in the conservation of the world’s underwater cultural heritage among government and private institutions, practitioners and the general public; promote the systematic inventorying of the world’s underwater cultural heritage; develop and promote effective strategies for the conservation, management and presentation of the world’s underwater cultural heritage; promote improved methods and standards for the location, exploration, recording and intervention in underwater cultural heritage sites; establish standards for the training and qualification of practitioners involved with the conservation and management of underwater cultural heritage sites; and share experience and expertise in the conservation and management of underwater cultural heritage sites.
Web site: http://icuch.icomos.org/the-icomos-international-committee-on-the-underwater-cultural-heritage/​

The International Scientific Committee for Stone aims to promote the knowledge and the preservation of stone materials in cultural heritage, in accordance with ICOMOS’ objectives of international co-operation. The Committee is currently collaborating on a glossary of Stone Deterioration terms entitled: “An internet-accessible multilingual illustrated glossary on stone deterioration.” Web site: lrmh-ext.fr/icomos/consult/index.htm

The International Committee on Historic Towns and Villages was founded by the ICOMOS Executive Committee during its meeting of 12 December 1982. The goals of the Committee are to further the knowledge and the principles for the conservation of historic towns, villages and ensembles; to promote the integration of conservation in the planning process; to raise interest in the conservation of historic towns, villages and ensembles; to facilitate the exchange of experience in relevant areas; to encourage training, research and publications in relevant areas and to provide technical assistance in relevant areas. The Committee meets annually and publishes its proceedings. Web site: civvih.icomos.org

The main objective of the Committee is to promote international co-operation in the identification, protection and conservation of Wall Paintings, among other, by – Stimulating international interest in painted cultural heritage, and its conservation, among government and private institutions, art historians, conservationists and the general public; – Establishing links on the one hand between art historians, archaeologists, and conservationists, and on the other hand researchers, experts, training institutions and research institutions working in the field of Wall Paintings; – Promoting the systematic inventorying and documentation of the Wall Painting Cultural Heritage; – Initiating and co-ordinating applied research activities in the field of Wall Paintings and their conservation; – The sharing of experience and expertise in the conservation and management of Wall Paintings Heritage; The activities of the Committee shall be consistent with the goals and objectives of ICOMOS

The purpose of the Committee is to promote international cooperation in the field of training and education in the protection, conservation and revalorization of monuments and sites, and the built heritage in general, in order to advance greater understanding in the recognition of such heritage, technology, management, and doctrine, and to advise on the development of ICOMOS programmes, in this field. The Committee shall accomplish its objectives by providing a forum for the exchange of experience, ideas, knowledge, and the results of different research between trainers and researchers, by: 1. endorsing the collection and dissemination of information about existing training programmes; 2. encouraging further studies and development in training and education in subjects related to heritage conservation; 3. developing scientific cooperation by creating links with schools, centres, committees and international organizations involved in conservation training and education. The activities of the Committee shall be consistent with the goals and objectives of ICOMOS, and may include the organization of meetings, the preparation of publications, and other activities, either directly or in collaboration with national and international organizations. The Committee may undertake regional activities.
Web site: http://cif.icomos.org/

ISCEAH focuses on the earthen architectural heritage. For the purposes of ISCEAH, earthen architectural heritage is defined as the architectural, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage constructed of unfired clay-/soil-based materials. The goals of ISCEAH are a level of substantial activity and a broad membership ready to share experiences and contribute to the development of better practice and methods for the protection and conservation of the world’s earthen architectural, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage. The objectives of the scientific program of ISCEAH are focused on the following broad themes: 1) conserving and studying the standing, and perhaps in use, architectural heritage; 2) conserving and studying the earthen archaeological environment; 3) cooperating in the process of understanding the historic/traditional techniques of earthen structures through research into materiality, including its impact on new earthen construction; 4) researching the contribution of earthen architectural heritage to cultural landscapes and its relation to the intangible heritage and living traditions; and 5) researching ancient/historic a-seismic techniques and using these in addition to current research to inform retrofitting of existing structures and appropriate new construction.
Web site: http://isceah.icomos.org/

The aim of the Committee on Interpretation and Presentation is to define the basic objectives and principles of site interpretation and presentation in relation to techniques and application of technologies, authenticity, intellectual integrity, social responsibility, and respect for cultural significance and context. Focusing on the experiential dimension of visits to cultural heritage sites, particularly by means of various media and methods of public communication, the Committee seeks to study the evolving technologies and techniques of public interpretation and presentation, evaluating their potential to enrich contemporary historical discourse and to heighten sensitivity to the universal values and particular modes of human expression embodied in cultural heritage sites. Web site: icip.icomos.org

Constituted in February 2005, IcoFort is concerned not only with the structures built for military purposes, but also with the landscapes of military and naval actions as well as commemorative monuments both of defense and conflicts. In addition, the heritage associated with such sites and monuments is of interest to IcoFort given the significance of conflict in shaping human societies and their technologies. Since its formation, IcoFort has held two international meetings and has a triennial action plan 2005-2008. The Committee is especially focusing on building institutional links and attracting members in order to encourage collaborative research on fortifications, in particular in view of their preservation and restoration. Web site: icofort.icomos.org

Founded in 2005, the Committee concerns itself with movable and immovable cultural objects – pertinent fixtures, decorations of architectural surfaces, furnishings, paintings, sculptures and other works of art which are integral parts of immovable monuments. It stresses the importance of the preservation and protection in-situ of immovable and movable antiquities as integral parts of archaeological sites. The Committee aims to: – improve public awareness on the historic, cultural and artistic importance and variety of movable and immovable cultural objects and works of art as integral part of monuments; – promote studies on different historic materials and techniques of cultural objects and works of art in monuments and their specific preservation and conservation problems; – promote research and scientific principles, methods and techniques on conservation/restoration of cultural objects and works of art in monuments; – increase the quality of interdisciplinary cooperation at the national and international level between conservators, restorers, architects, art historians, archaeologists and other specialists in the preservation in situ and protection of cultural objects and works of art in monuments; – emphasise the importance of preservation and conservation in-situ of all kinds of fragments and traces of decoration and works of art in archaeological sites, such as mosaics, architectural surfaces and their polychromy, sculptures, reliefs etc. ; – collaborate at the national and international level in view of the creating information and training centres and networks for specialised conservators and restorers; – participate in, develop and implement international training programmes for conservation and restoration specialists; – promote the adoption and application of international conventions on the enhancement, preservation and conservation of cultural objects and works of art; – and make available to the international community a highly specialized network of professional conservators/restorers, developed in the framework of the Committee’s activities. The activities of the Committee, based on three-year programmes, include: conferences and scientific meetings; drafting an international charter and guidelines; working groups and special committees; educational visits; seminars; publications; setting up a web page.

The objectives of ICICH are, consistent with the aims of ICOMOS to: – promote international cooperation in the identification, study and solution of issues related to the ethical identification, protection, interpretation, and management of the intangible cultural associations attributed to monuments and sites. – co-operate with the International Scientific Committees of ICOMOS in reviewing doctrinal documents as well as management and conservation practices, in light of the role of intangible attributes in the significance and values of cultural heritage sites. – advise ICOMOS on any role it may have in the implementation of, or other activities associated with UNESCO’s International Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage – To advise ICOMOS on the role of intangible attributes in the role it plays in implementation of other UNESCO Conventions and international treaties, such as the World Heritage Convention and The Hague Convention. ICICH carries out its activities within the framework of a triennial programme through, among other, conferences, workshops and other means for direct inter-personal exchanges, study visits, publications, specialist advisory services to ICOMOS and others.

The first Board of ICOMOS Pasifika was elected in 2007. The Committee aims to further the conservation and protection of heritage places in the Pacific Islands, with a focus on the cultural and natural specificities of the region. In particular, the Committee will raise awareness with regards to the conservation of heritage places in the Pacific Islands amongst local, national and regional cultural organisations in the region; act as an expert body to promote regional cooperation amongst professionals involved in studies relating to heritage places in the region; provide a forum for discussion and for information exchange, regionally and internationally, on matters of principle and of technical, legal and administrative practice affecting the conservation of heritage places in the region; and focus on the provision of information to the general public, traditional landowners and political organisations about the conservation of heritage places in the region.
Web site: http://www.culturepacific.org/

The aim of the Committee – consistent with ICOMOS’ objective of international cooperation – is to explore the basis and framework of conservation, restoration and preservation theory and practice in the globalized world. With these developments in mind, the Committee hopes to achieve the ambitious goal of analyzing recent problems and suggesting appropriate proposals, perhaps even answers. The activities of the Committee in the field of conservation and restoration can include examining the existing corpus of documents and scientific studies; identifying needs and uncovered areas of interest; developing ideas and visions for the future; cooperating with other ICOMOS committees and scientific units of other institutions (such as UNESCO, ICCROM and ICOM) in order to establish an integrated theoretical basis for the preservation of cultural heritage.

The 20th Century Heritage Committee was formed in 2005 and aims to promote the value and conservation of heritage of the Twentieth Century and its creators; and to develop activities to support the active conservation of Twentieth Century Heritage. In future, this may include a Charter, guidelines, criteria; currently the committee work includes Twentieth Century Heritage at Risk reports, scientific meetings and activities with other interested bodies, such as DOCOMOMO, mAAN and UIA. We also aim to actively contribute to the archive of Twentieth Century Heritage, for example, through collecting oral history, video interviews with relevant heritage professionals etc. A Principles agreement has been made with Docomomo and a formal co-operation agreement has recently been struck with UIA concerning collaboration on issues of mutual interest in Twentieth Century Heritage conservation. An important role for the new committee will be the provision of advice to ICOMOS on matters relating to Twentieth Century Heritage and the World Heritage Convention. The committee will sustain and further ICOMOS’s long term interests in Twentieth Century heritage, acting as a permanent international and multidisciplinary group of ICOMOS experts addressing the conservation issues affecting Twentieth Century Heritage; facilitating international collaboration and disseminating the knowledge thus acquired. We look forward to working with many interested individuals and groups and to our first international conference, to be held in Chicago in June 2007. Web site: icomos-isc20c.org/

Meaningful water management is intimately tied to life and culture around the world. A rich tapestry of material heritage and cultural practices are directly related to water, e.g. water supply systems, flood protection, dams and water wheels, waterscapes and urban deltas as well as spiritual beliefs and administrative systems. Water related cultural heritage is not only worth protecting but also a rich source of inspiration for sustainable solutions to water-specific problems, particularly in the face of climate change and sea level rise. Water heritage can help us build fairer and more resilient societies. Established in December 2021, the aim of the Water and Heritage ISC is to explore the diverse aspects of water related heritage in more detail, to discuss its protection possibilities, to make it known as a source of knowledge and to highlight the significance of water related heritage for the administrative and planning design of the future. We welcome expressions of interest from professionals with a background in water management, architecture and landscape architecture, planning, conservation, and historic preservation. Website: https://water.icomos.org.