Intangible Cultural Heritage: the United Kingdom becomes the 183rd State to join UNESCO’s Convention

联合国教科文组织 | 04 15, 2024

  On 12 April, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, UK Minister for Arts and Heritage, met with UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay to mark the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s ratification to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. It will be effective on 7 June 2024.

  © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX

  “We welcome the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as the 183rd State Party to the UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This marks an important step in our shared commitment to protecting and transmitting the living heritage of the communities.”

  UNESCO Director-General

  Audrey Azoulay

  Created in 2003, UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recognizes traditional craftsmanship, oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices related to nature and the universe.

  The United Kingdom is thus committed to an increased inventory of the country’s traditions, including practices inspired by diaspora communities, and to better safeguarding the practices most at-risk.

  To this end, the Government of the United Kingdom launched a public consultation in January 2024 on the creation of a new register onto which communities across the country could nominate their “most cherished local traditions”.

  Over the past seven years, the number of ratifications of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage by Member States has accelerated with 11 additional countries joining the Convention: Angola, Kiribati, Libya, Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  20 years of protecting communities’ living heritage

  In two decades, the Convention has highlighted the importance of living heritage, brought more communities voices to the forefront and become a reference for States in the establishment of policies and institutions, legal frameworks and educational and economic programmes. Today, 730 elements are inscribed on the Convention’s Lists and Register.

  The International Assistance of the Convention, provides dedicated resources for States to implement safeguarding programmes, community-based inventorying, awareness-raising, specific knowledge on safeguarding in emergency situations and training of experts. For the past seven years, it has benefited projects in more than 70 countries with a total amount of $12.7 million. More than half of this financial assistance benefited African States.

  While important progress has been made, emerging challenges remain ahead for living heritage's viability. This includes the protection of cultural rights including those of indigenous communities; the integration of living heritage to reinforce the quality and relevance of the education system; the maximization of the positive effects of economic activities on communities; and mainstreaming of living heritage knowledge and practices into climate action. The support of the UK and all the Convention's States Parties and partners will be crucial in the coming years.
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