The General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will meet 27 to 29 June at UNESCO. This is a first for the Convention, which was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2003 and entered into force last 20 April, three months after its ratification by 30 States. The General Assembly will adopt rules of procedure and elect the Intergovernmental Committee responsible for implementing the Convention. It is the Committee that will examine applications for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Initially composed of representatives of 18 States Parties, the Committee is due to be enlarged to 24 members shortly. It will be convened for the first time later this year.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage completes UNESCO’s standard-setting instruments for preserving cultural heritage. It aims to safeguard oral traditions and expressions (including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage); performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship. In every part of the world, such intangible cultural heritage is threatened with deterioration and, in many cases, extinction.
The States Parties to the Convention commit to take the necessary measures to ensure the safeguard of intangible cultural heritage to be found on their territory and to compile one or several inventories of the intangible cultural heritage with the participation of the communities and groups which create, maintain and transmit this heritage. There are also plans for the creation of an international cooperation and assistance mechanism.
The Convention foresees the creation of two lists: a Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity and a List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. It also stipulates the establishment of a Fund for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage whose financing is to come from contributions by States Parties and from other sources.
The General Assembly will also elect a president, one or more vice-presidents and a rapporteur and will determine the States Parties’ contribution to finance the Fund for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
To date, 52 States* have ratified, approved or accepted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The 45 who did so before 30 March 2006 are eligible to participate in the General Assembly’s first session.
*These countries are the following: Algeria, Mauritius, Japan, Gabon, Panama, China, Central African Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Republic of Korea, Seychelles, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Mali, Mongolia, Croatia, Egypt, Oman, Dominica, India, Viet Nam, Peru, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nigeria, Iceland, Mexico, Senegal, Romania, Estonia, Luxembourg, Nicaragua, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Hungary, Islamic Republic of Iran, Belgium, Jordan, Slovakia, Republic of Moldova, Turkey, Madagascar, Albania, Zambia, Armenia, Zimbabwe, Cambodia and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.