The cultural heritage is a legacy left to all humankind and is the storehouse of our past experience. It is made up of both tangible and intangible elements.
There are many threats to the preservation of this heritage, including climatic stressors such as floods and landslides. These can have a serious impact on outdoor and indoor cultural heritage.
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes that societies have inherited from past generations. They include works of art, literature, music, archaeological and historical artifacts, buildings and monuments.
While these items are often associated with one culture, they have also been the inspiration for artists, writers and craftsmen from other cultures. Think of the influence that Japanese prints had on Paul Gauguin’s paintings; or African masks on Pablo Picasso’s works.
While these objects are preserved in museums, galleries and historic sites, they can be threatened by a wide variety of criminal activities such as trafficking. Those who engage in this activity destroy cultural heritage for profit or to satisfy their own personal desires. They are often involved in a range of other crimes such as smuggling, theft and the illicit trade in cultural goods.
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is a collection of social customs, traditions, rituals, representations, expressions, particular knowledge of nature and craft skills that communities and groups recognise as part of their culture. These may be inherited traditions, contemporary practices or a mixture of both.
ICH gives people, communities and countries a sense of place and identity. It is also a means to pass on cultural knowledge from one generation to the next.
UNESCO has been promoting the safeguarding of ICH since 2003, when it adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Currently, 178 States have become State Parties to this Convention, which is a testament to its popularity and the global impact of ICH.
Cultural heritage is a mosaic of artifacts (paintings, drawings, prints, monuments), buildings, historic cities, archaeological sites and the knowledge, traditions and cultures that people possess. It is also a means of social cohesion and identity, and the source of inspiration for the future.
Traditional cultural expressions, or expressions of folklore, may include music, dance, art, designs, names, signs and symbols, performances, ceremonies, architectural works, handicrafts, stories, mythology and legends. They are integral to the cultural and social identities of indigenous and local communities, embody know-how and skills and convey fundamental values and beliefs.
The protection of these expressions is related to the promotion of creativity, enhanced cultural diversity and the preservation of cultural heritage. It is also placed within a wider economic, political and international law context. The UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is examined in detail with attention to the rights and duties of States Parties, the role of civil society, how sustainable development is treated under the Convention and the international cooperation and assistance framework it establishes.
Cultural heritage is a way of living that involves value systems, beliefs, traditions and lifestyles. These include things such as customs, art and craft, language, religion, music and dance, and social and cultural history.
Often passed down from generation to generation, these are a sense of identity and continuity. They also help people develop a sense of belonging in a community and provide a common arena for members to engage in local action.
Communities of cultural heritage are diverse in their backgrounds, histories and values. They range from long-standing ethnic groups to newer immigrant communities.
These communities of cultural heritage are represented through a variety of organizations. Many of them focus on promoting and preserving community identity through expressive forms, such as dancing or music. Others address the broader community, such as by sponsoring neighborhood festivals or public education programs.