14/03/2001 - 17/03/2001

In March 2001, an international Round Table of experts was organised at Turin (Italy) for the purposes of drawing up an operational definition of the term “intangible cultural heritage”. UNESCO undertook a series of surveys directed to National Commissions of Member states and IGOs and NGOs, relating to the different terminologies in use and the existing national legislation in the field of intangible cultural heritage.
Drawing on the opinions expressed at the time of the Washington Conference, and on the results of the surveys, the Round Table drafted a new definition of the intangible cultural heritage, as “Peoples’ learned processes along with the knowledge, skills and creativity that inform and are developed by them, the products they create, and the resources, spaces and other aspects of social and natural context necessary to their sustainability; these processes provide living communities with a sense of continuity with previous generations and are important to cultural identity, as well as to the safeguarding of cultural diversity and creativity of humanity”.
Furthermore, the meeting recommended to UNESCO that it prepares a new international normative instrument on the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, by specifying that certain of the main objectives, such as a) to conserve human creations that may disappear for ever b) offering them recognition at the world level, c) reinforcing identity, d) permitting social cooperation within groups and between groups, e) assuring historical continuity, f) promoting the creative diversity of humanity, g) facilitating access to the fruits of this creativity.

  • Address by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO (English)
  • Final report (English|French)

Information documents

  • Agenda: English
  • Annotated agenda: English|French
  • Consultation with Member States on ‘Identification (Inventorying) and Documentation of Folklore’: English-French
  • Consultation with Member States on ‘Legal Protection of Folklore and Administrative Measures’: English-French
  • Definitions in use by various member states: English-French
  • Intangible cultural heritage: perceptions and enactments, by Lourdes Arizpe: English
  • Intangible cultural heritage: working definitions, by Francesco Francioni: English
  • Introduction to the draft preliminary study on the advisability of developing a standard-setting instrument for the protection of intangible cultural heritage, by Janet Blake: English
  • Les composants de l’oralité, par Georges Condominas: English-French
  • List of documents: English
  • List of participants: English-French
  • Notions of intangible cultural heritage: towards a UNESCO working definition, by Manuela Carneiro da Cunha: English
  • Preliminary study into the advisability of developing a standard-setting instrument for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (‘traditional culture and folklore’), by Janet Blake: English
  • Proposed terminology for intangible cultural heritage: toward anthropological and folkloristic common sense in a global era, by Peter Seitel: English
  • Provisional programme for the meeting: English
  • Working definitions in use by intergovernmental organizations: English-French
  • Working definitions in use by non-governmental organizations: English-French
  • Writing and orality, by Juan Goytisolo: Spanish