42 experts specialized in tangible and intangible heritage safeguarding, coming from 23 countries from all over the world, have adopted, at the end of the above-mentioned four-day International Conference organized by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs and UNESCO, the Yamato Declaration on Integrated Approaches for Safeguarding Tangible and Intangible Heritage.
This Conference was held in Nara, Japan, and inaugurated by the Director-General of UNESCO, at the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Venice Charter (1964) and of that of the 10th Anniversary of the Nara Conference on Authenticity (1994). The Conference was also placed in the context of the forthcoming entry into force of the new international Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (adopted in 2003). Also, debates on ways and means of possible cooperation between the above-mentioned 2003 Convention and the successful UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), are under way.
However, the Conference organized in Nara had in addition an ambitious goal, as it aimed to broaden the scope of discussions and the mutual understanding and cooperation between experts of the two categories of heritages.
What was highlighted in the Yamato Declaration is the importance of safeguarding both categories of heritages in their own rights, taking into account their interdependence but also their distinctive characters. The Conference was epoque-making in assembling leading experts of heritage safeguarding and inviting them to share an inclusive and contemporary vision on cultural heritage and its diversity, and to discuss possible integrated approaches to safeguard it. Possible integrated approaches mean, in particular, to be community-oriented, taking care of both tangible and intangible heritage, and taking into consideration particularities of the specific cultural context of communities concerned. This approach is especially important for the implementation of intangible heritage safeguarding, as it is enacted by people. Therefore, protecting circumstances to enable communities to constantly recreate their cultural expressions is crucial. The Declaration also recognized the difficulty of applying the concept of "authenticity" as used in the context of the 1972 Convention, to intangible cultural heritage as defined in the 2003 Convention.
UNESCO wishes that Conference and the spirit of the Yamato Declaration to open the way to the discussions and development of new approaches.