International Scientific Committees (ISCs)

The many International Scientific Committees (ISCs) of ICOMOS allow members from around the world to form networks of expertise in particular areas of cultural heritage. Members include internationally renowned specialists in their subjects.  These ISCs form the backbone of ICOMOS’ international collaboration, scientific research and exchange of ideas.  ISCs are open to experts and also to associates, who are encouraged to join to build up their knowledge in a given field.  ICOMOS-UK members are actively involved in most of these committees.  UK members are approved by the ICOMOS-UK Executive Committee.

Some ISCs are mirrored by ICOMOS-UK Committees.  These are the Cultural Tourism, Education and Training, and Cultural Landscape and Historic Gardens Committees.

Every three years ICOMOS runs a Scientific Symposium for the International Scientific Committees, in conjunction with the triennial ICOMOS General Assembly.  The last one was held in Paris in 2011, and the next one will be held in Florence, Italy in 2014.

The names of ICOMOS International Scientific Committees are listed below.  Many have their own websites which give more detail about their research activities, programmes and membership.

Note: ICOMOS has three official working languages at an international level – French, English and Spanish. The full name of each committee is listed below in English, but sometimes the acronyms relate to the name of the committee in French.  

Analysis and Restoration of Structures of Architectural Heritage (ISCARSAH)

ISCARSAH studies the structural aspects of architectural heritage. It was founded in 1996 as a forum and network for engineers involved in the restoration and care of built heritage

Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM)

ICAHM was set up in 1990 to promote international co-operation in architectural heritage management

Cultural Landscapes ICOMOS-IFLA (ISCCL)

This is a joint committee between ICOMOS and IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architects).  Its aim is to promote understanding, conservation and wide use of landscape heritage for public and private benefit.

Cultural Routes (CIIC)

The CIIC began in 1998, and has developed a Charter on Cultural Routes, in response to cultural routes emerging as a new category of cultural heritage. 

Cultural Tourism (ICTC)

ICTC promotes the development of best practice management for tourism on heritage sites and historic places.  The 8th draft of the International Cultural Tourism Charter was adopted in Mexico in 1999.

Earthen Architectural Heritage (ISCEAH)

ISCEAH defines earthen architectural heritage as the architectural, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage constructed of unfired clay/soil-based materials. 

Economics of Conservation (ISEC)

This committee is developing guidelines for sustainable integrated conservation plans, programmes and projects.  It is developing its own website

Energy and Sustainability (ISCES)

This new committee was approved at the 2012 ICOMOS Advisory Council and Scientific Council meeting in Beijing.  It is being set up, and will have a new website once it is up and running.  

Fortifications and Military Heritage (IcoFort)

This committee began in 2005.  It studies the military structures, military and naval landscapes and commemorative monuments.

Heritage Documentation (CIPA)

CIPA is a joint committee set up by ICOMOS and the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS).  It aims to promote recording, documentation and study of cultural heritage through photography, remote sensing, and CAD. 

Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH)

CIVVIH began in 1982, to promote activity around conserving historic towns and villages.  It produces regular newsletters about its activities.

Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (ICIP)

ICIP looks at site interpretation and presentation in relation to technology, authenticity, social responsibility and respect for cultural significance and context. The ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage Sites (known as the Ename Charter) was ratified in 2008.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICICH)

ICICH was formed in 2005, following the 2003 ICOMOS conference on intangible heritage values and place held in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was drafted in 2003 and entered into force in 2006.

Legal, Administrative and Financial Issues (ICLAFI)

This committee studies legal, administrative and financial issues connection with recognising, protecting, maintaining and conserving monuments, or groups of buildings and sites.

Mural (Wall) Paintings

This committee promotes interest in painted cultural heritage and its conservation, working with governments and private institutions, art historians, conservationists and the general public.  It has no website at the moment.

International Polar Heritage Committee

The IPHC began in 2000. One of its guiding principles is that “all evidence of previous human activity in the polar areas has a potential significance for the documentation and 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.”

Risk Preparedness (ICORP)

The goal of this committee is to enhance the state of preparedness within heritage institutions and professions in relation to natural or other disasters.  It aims to promote better integration of local heritage protection plans into regional, national and international disaster management plans and relief operations.  It has no website at the moment.

Rock Art (CAR)

This committee provides advice to ICOMOS, UNESCO and other international organisations on rock art. It also produces publications and is creating a world inventory of rock art. It has no website at the moment.

Shared Built Heritage (ISCSBH)

Shared built heritage includes historical urban and rural structures or elements, resulting from multi-cultural and/or colonial influence.  ISCSBH’s main objective is to support public and private organisations world-wide in safeguarding, managing and documenting shared built heritage.

Stained Glass (ISCV)

The aim of this committee is to organise meetings on the conservation and technology of historic stained glass, and to provide advice and undertake expert services. It has no website at the moment.

Stone (ISCS)

The ISCS aims to promote knowledge and preservation of stone materials in cultural heritage. It has produced a Glossary on Stone Deterioration Patterns.

Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration

This committee explores conservation, restoration and preservation theory.  It has no website at the moment.

International Training Committee (CIF)

The CIF promotes international co-operation in training and education in heritage conservation.

Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH)

ICUCH was founded in 1991 by ICOMOS Australia. Its goal is to assist international ICOMOS and UNESCO in the sound management of submerged cultural resources.

Vernacular Architecture (CIAV)

CIAV advises ICOMOS and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on all aspects of the management of rural areas, village settlements and vernacular architecture.

Wood (IWC)

The IWC was set up in 1975, and provides a forum for exchange of experience, ideas and knowledge on the preservation of wood in buildings and structures.

20th Century Heritage (ISC20C)

This committee was set up in 2005 and aims to promote the value and conservation of heritage of the 20th century and its creators.