Further reflections on community involvement in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
The central role explicitly accorded to the community (and groups and individuals) in heritage identification, safeguarding and management under UNESCO’s Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted in 2003 (hereafter ICHC) is a prominent feature of that treaty. Indeed, it is the first time that such a degree of community involvement has been acknowledged in international cultural heritage law. This is a move that carries with it significance both for international law and for the paradigm by which government agencies have hitherto protected ‘national heritage’ and even for the identification of that heritage itself. In this chapter I seek to explore what the implications of this new recognition of a central role for cultural communities in heritage safeguarding are, both internationally and, in particular, on the national level. The ICHC entered into force in 2006, and now enjoys over 160 States Parties,1 which compares very favourably with the 1972 World Heritage Convention (currently with 190 Parties after over 40 years since its adoption) and which demonstrates a strong desire by the international community to respond urgently to threats to this vulnerable heritage. Importantly, this aspect of heritage responds in a peculiarly direct way to a number of issues that were high on the international policy agenda in the late 1990s and early 2000s and continue to be so, in particular: sustainable development, cultural diversity and human rights. These developments have increasingly stressed the importance of local-level actions for sustainability as well as recognising the human rights of local communities and Indigenous peoples with regard to their own heritage.
ICH, UNESCO Convention 2003, communities,sustainable development, cultural diversity, human rights
BLAKE, Janet (2018) "Further reflections on community involvement in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage". In Natsuko Akagawa, Laurajane Smith (eds.) (2018) Safeguarding Intangible Heritage Practices and Politics.London: Routledge.