The kit on intangible cultural heritage is a basic reference and pedagogical instrument for promoting and ensuring an effective understanding of intangible cultural heritage and the 2003 Convention by governments, communities, experts, concerned UN agencies, NGOs and interested individuals. It has been first published in September 2009 on the occasion of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and regularly updated ever since.
Conceived as a flexible tool, in which new brochures adapted to the local situation can be included, the kit should be continuously developed and translated into as many languages as possible.
The Kit is composed of 11 brochures and fact sheets on 12 safeguarding projects, all downloadable:
The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the normative instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe of the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.
The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important for developing States as for developed ones. (…)
The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization hereinafter referred to as UNESCO, meeting in Paris, from 29 September to 17 October 2003, at its 32nd session…
Referring to existing international human rights instruments, in particular to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.
Considering the importance of the intangilbe cultural heritage as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development, as underscored in the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore of 1989, in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001, and in the Istanbul Declaration of 2002 adopted by the Third Round Table of Ministers of Culture, (…)
This brochure aims to provide a background to the Convention by highlighting those actions and programmes that, often indirectly, contributed to developing the ideas and policies that eventually led to the adoption of the Convention text as it stands.
1946 - 1981: first steps
1982 - 2000: from Mondiacult to Our Creative Diversity
2000 onwards and the drafting of the Convention (…)
Identifying and inventorying Intangible Cultural Heritage
The purpose of the Convention is to safeguard intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Countries that ratify it (known as States Parties) take on the obligations to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage present on their territories. (…)
Inventories are integral to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage because they can raise awareness about intangible cultural heritage and its importance for individual and collective identities. The process of inventorying
intangible cultural heritage and making those inventories accessible to the public can also encourage creativity and self-respect in the communities and individuals where expressions and practices of intangible cultural heritage originate. Inventories can also provide a basis for formulating concrete plans to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage concerned. (…)
The 2003 Convention proposes five broad ‘domains’ in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested:
Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
Social practices, rituals and festive events;
Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
Instances of intangible cultural heritage are not limited to a single manifestation and many include elements from multiple domains. While the Convention sets out a framework for identifying forms of intangible cultural heritage, the list of domains it provides is intended to be inclusive rather than exclusive; it is not necessarily meant to be ‘complete’. States may use a different system of domains. There is already a wide degree of variation, with some countries dividing up the manifestations of intangible heritage differently, while others use broadly similar domains to those of the Convention with alternative names. They may add further domains or new sub-categories to existing domains. (…)
Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recognizes the ‘importance of the intangible cultural heritage as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development’.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development constitutes a plan of action addressing the three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – of sustainable development through 17 Sustainable Development Goals as highly interdependent spheres of action that inform development pathways at all levels, and respecting the three fundamental principles of human rights, equality, and sustainability. Intangible cultural heritage can effectively contribute to sustainable development along each of its three dimensions, as well as to the requirement of peace and security as fundamental prerequisites for
How can the place of intangible cultural heritage in sustainable development best be understood so that its contributions can be recognized and fully realized?
Values, norms and rules related to gender are diverse among societies, communities and groups. All intangible cultural heritage expressions carry and transmit knowledge and norms related to the roles and relationships between and within gender groups in a given community. In such a way, intangible cultural heritage is a privileged context for shaping gender roles and identities and transmitting them. Intangible cultural heritage and the construction of one’s gender identity are therefore inseparable.
Education can play a valuable role in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recognizes the transmission of intangible cultural heritage ‘through formal and non-formal education’ as a key safeguarding measure.
Intangible Cultural Heritage and Indigenous Peoples
Indigenous peoples hold a rich diversity of living heritage, including practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills. The practice and transmission of this heritage contributes to the ongoing vitality, strength and wellbeing of communities.
To that end, the Convention provides an important opportunity for indigenous peoples to shape the international heritage discourse and ensure that their experiences and needs in safeguarding living heritage are taken into account.