The General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention is the sovereign body of the Convention. The General Assembly meets in ordinary session every two years and may convene extraordinary sessions if it deems it necessary or at the request of either the Committee or of at least one-third of the States Parties.

The General Assembly gives strategic orientations for the implementation of the Convention and elects the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Half of the Committee members are renewed every two years. In order to reflect the diversity of opinions and of safeguarding measures concerning intangible cultural heritage around the world, the General Assembly decided to apply the principle of equitable geographical distribution to the election of Committee members. The number of Committee members from each region proportionally depends on the number of States from that region that have already ratified the Convention.

The Committee meets in ordinary session every year and in extraordinary session at the request of at least two thirds of its States Members. Its core functions are to:

  • promote the objectives of the Convention, provide guidance on best practices and make recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage;
  • use the resources of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund in accordance with the guidelines and the biannual plan adopted by the General Assembly;
  • inscribe intangible cultural heritage manifestations proposed by States Parties on the Lists of the Convention mentioned in Articles 16 and 17;
  • select and promote programmes, projects and activities submitted by States Parties which best reflect the objectives and principles of the Convention, as mentioned in its Article 18;
  • propose to the General Assembly the accreditation of non-governmental organizations which may have advisory functions to the Committee.

The Convention also provides that the Secretariat of UNESCO shall assist the General Assembly and the Committee, prepare the documentation of their meetings and ensure that their decisions are implemented.