United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Istanbul - Some 80 ministers of culture will meet in Istanbul on September 16 and 17 to debate the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (languages, performing arts, music, social and religious rituals, oral traditions and traditional knowledge), which is as important as tangible heritage for the maintenance of the world's cultural diversity.

As the guests of the Turkish government, the ministers will participate in a round-table discussion on the theme "Intangible Cultural Heritage - a Mirror of Cultural Diversity", organized by UNESCO to determine what international action should be taken to safeguard such heritage.

For UNESCO, cultural heritage goes beyond monuments to include more abstract forms of human creativity. These living examples of human originality deserve to be safeguarded in the interests of cultural diversity, which "as a source of exchange, innovation and creativity" is a factor in development, according to UNESCO's Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted in 2001.

UNESCO has already proclaimed 19 cultural spaces or forms of popular expression as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. These first masterpieces include for example, the Sicilian puppet theatre (Italy), the Oruro carnival (Bolivia), Kunqu opera (China), the music of the transverse trumpets of Tagbana community (Côte d'Ivoire) and the cultural space of Djamaa el-Fna Square, in Marrakesh (Morocco)*.

This list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage, launched in 2001, will be regularly added to. The next round of selections will take place in 2003. UNESCO is also working on the preparation of an international convention to protect this kind of heritage.

The Istanbul round table will be opened by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. About 300 people in all, including experts and observers, are expected to attend.


The round table will be held in the Hotel Çiragan Palace Kempinski, from 9.30 a.m. on Monday, September 16, with simultaneous translation in the UN's six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French, English and Russian).

Journalists wishing to attend should ring (+90) (212) 512-5872 or 2013, extension 118. Accreditation forms can be obtained online

Contact: Lucía Iglesias Kuntz
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Tel: (+33) (0)1 45 68 17 02.

Source Media Advisory No.2002-35
Website 1 (URL) Web: Complete list of masterpieces
Website 2 (URL) Web: Third Round Table of Ministers of Culture
Website 3 (URL) For more information
Publication Date 09 Sep 2002
© UNESCO 1995-2007 - ID: 5984