United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Algeria first state to ratify the international convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage

Algeria became the first Member State to ratify the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) after completing the required procedure at the Organization on March 15. The Convention will enter into force three months after 30 States have ratified it.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura welcomed the decision, which follows the adoption of the Convention by the UNESCO General Conference last October. Algeria’s rapidity, Mr Matsuura said, “clearly shows its firm commitment to safeguard intangible heritage, and is a sign of the critical importance that intangible heritage has for many peoples.” He expressed the hope “that at least 29 more States will do the same so that the Convention can enter into force as quickly as possible.”

The Convention aims to safeguard oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events and traditional craftmanship, as well as knowledge and practice concerning nature and the universe. This new legal instrument complements other UNESCO Conventions protecting the world’s tangible cultural heritage.

There is a “common concern to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of humanity,” states the Convention, which stresses the “invaluable role” of such heritage as a “factor in bringing human beings closer together and ensuring exchange and understanding between them”. The Convention provides for the drawing up of national inventories of cultural elements that must be protected, the creation of an Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage comprising experts from the future States Parties, and the creation of two lists: one covering the intangible heritage of humanity, the other featuring the parts of that heritage considered to be in urgent need of safeguarding.

Under the terms of the Convention, safeguarding activities will be financed through a fund made up mainly of contributions from States Parties as well as allocations made by the UNESCO General Conference, along with contributions, donations or legacies from other States, organizations or individuals.

*The complete text of the Convention can be found at http://www.unesco.org/culture/heritage/intangible/

Source Press Release No 2004 - 25
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Publication Date 19 Mar 2004
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