PARIS, FRANCE.-Twenty States (Algeria, Mauritius, Japan, Gabon, Panama, China, the Central African Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Republic of Korea, Seychelles, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Mali, Mongolia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Oman, India) have now ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2003.
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura welcomed the exceptionally rapid pace of ratification. “Few UNESCO conventions have been ratified by as many States in such a short time,” he said. “If this pace is kept up, we can expect the Convention to enter into force as early as next year. The interest shown by States for intangible cultural heritage is a source of joy and comfort for all who are concerned about its vulnerability.”
The Convention completes UNESCO’s standard-setting instruments for the preservation of tangible cultural heritage. Its aim is to safeguard oral traditions and expressions, performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship, which communities, groups and individuals transmit from generation to generation and recognize as part of their cultural heritage. The Convention stipulates that safeguarding measures will be taken such as the drawing up of regularly updated national inventories and the creation of two lists: a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and a List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The Convention will enter into force three months after the 30th State Party deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. Ahead of this, UNESCO has established the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity*, which takes place every second year. A total of 47 masterpieces were proclaimed in 2001 and 2003 and new proclamations are scheduled in November 2005.