- Having examined document ITH/15/10.COM/15.a,
- Recalling Decision 7.COM.6,
- Thanking the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain for having generously hosted and co-funded the expert meeting on a model code of ethics for intangible cultural heritage that was held in Valencia, Spain, from 30 March to 1 April 2015,
- Commending the work undertaken by the Secretariat in the overall reflection on the need, relevance and modalities of elaboration of a code of ethics for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage,
- Reaffirming the importance of ethical principles for all organizations and individuals who directly or indirectly affect the viability and thereby the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage,
- Acknowledging that ethical codes can be efficiently implemented and respected only if adapted to the political, economic, social and legal context of a country and/or a sector, and if widely accepted by the addressees,
- Decides to endorse the ethical principles for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage annexed to this decision;
- Encourages States Parties and other national and local organizations to develop, promulgate and update their own – national or sector-specific – codes of ethics based on these principles, through a participatory process involving communities, groups and relevant stakeholders;
- Requests the Secretariat to develop an online platform with a toolkit based on the ethical principles annexed to this decision and comprising practical guidance and examples of existing codes of ethics to facilitate the development of specific codes by national and local entities, as encouraged in paragraph 8 of the present decision;
- Invites accredited non-governmental organizations to participate in enriching, sharing information, following-up, and contributing to update the online platform with tools of ethics for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage;
- Requests the Secretariat to include ethical considerations in the global capacity-building programme by developing training materials sensitizing governments, communities, groups and other relevant stakeholders and intermediaries to ethical concerns in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and guiding governments, communities, groups and other relevant stakeholders and intermediaries in the development of specific codes and tools of ethics, as well as by integrating ethical insights in existing materials wherever relevant;
- Recalls that the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, within the spectrum of sustainable development, should be able to rely on public policies which value cultural action.
Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage
The Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage have been elaborated in the spirit of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and existing international normative instruments protecting human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. They represent a set of overarching aspirational principles that are widely accepted as constituting good practices for governments, organizations and individuals directly or indirectly affecting intangible cultural heritage in order to ensure its viability, thereby recognizing its contribution to peace and sustainable development. Complementary to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Operational Directives for the Implementation of the Convention and national legislative frameworks, these Ethical Principles are intended to serve as basis for the development of specific codes of ethics and tools adapted to local and sectoral conditions.
- Communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals should have the primary role in safeguarding their own intangible cultural heritage.
- The right of communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals to continue the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills necessary to ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage should be recognized and respected.
- Mutual respect as well as a respect for and mutual appreciation of intangible cultural heritage, should prevail in interactions between States and between communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals.
- All interactions with the communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals who create, safeguard, maintain and transmit intangible cultural heritage should be characterized by transparent collaboration, dialogue, negotiation and consultation, and contingent upon their free, prior, sustained and informed consent.
- Access of communities, groups and individuals to the instruments, objects, artefacts, cultural and natural spaces and places of memory whose existence is necessary for expressing the intangible cultural heritage should be ensured, including in situations of armed conflict. Customary practices governing access to intangible cultural heritage should be fully respected, even where these may limit broader public access.
- Each community, group or individual should assess the value of its own intangible cultural heritage and this intangible cultural heritage should not be subject to external judgements of value or worth.
- The communities, groups and individuals who create intangible cultural heritage should benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from such heritage, and particularly from its use, research, documentation, promotion or adaptation by members of the communities or others.
- The dynamic and living nature of intangible cultural heritage should be continuously respected. Authenticity and exclusivity should not constitute concerns and obstacles in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
- Communities, groups, local, national and transnational organizations and individuals should carefully assess the direct and indirect, short-term and long-term, potential and definitive impact of any action that may affect the viability of intangible cultural heritage or the communities who practise it.
- Communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals should play a significant role in determining what constitutes threats to their intangible cultural heritage including the decontextualization, commodification and misrepresentation of it and in deciding how to prevent and mitigate such threats.
- Cultural diversity and the identities of communities, groups and individuals should be fully respected. In the respect of values recognized by communities, groups and individuals and sensitivity to cultural norms, specific attention to gender equality, youth involvement and respect for ethnic identities should be included in the design and implementation of safeguarding measures.
- The safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is of general interest to humanity and should therefore be undertaken through cooperation among bilateral, sub regional, regional and international parties; nevertheless, communities, groups and, where applicable, individuals should never be alienated from their own intangible cultural heritage.