Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Criteria

In order for a cultural element to be included in the Representative List of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, it is necessary to complete a nomination file demonstrating that the following five requirements have been satisfied:

  • The element must fall within the definition of “intangible cultural heritage” as defined in the Convention and therefore be considered a cultural element that reflects the identity of the community to which it belongs.

UNESCO has identified the following categories of intangible cultural heritage: dialects and minority languages; performing arts, music, dance, and theater; rituals, festivals and ceremonies; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; technical knowledge and skills used to produce traditional crafts. To demonstrate that requirement number 1 has been met, sufficient supporting information must be included in the nomination file so as to define the item as a cultural element of the community’s identity, having a social and cultural value that is carried through the centuries from generation to generation.
To demonstrate the requisite number 1, the format must be given all the information that allow us to define that item as a cultural element of their identity of that community with a social and cultural value transmitted through the centuries from generation to generation.

  • Inclusion of the element in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage should contribute to ensuring visibility and increasing awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage.

In the nomination file it must be specified how the element may be the basis for an intercultural dialogue between peoples, testifying to the creativity of its community and that of communities comparable to it, and supporting worldwide cultural diversity.

  • An outline of the safeguarding measures to be taken to protect the element that is nominated for the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity must be included.

The term “safeguarding measures” refers to all activities undertaken by the communities and the State to protect and ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage. Specifically, it refers to: identification, cataloging and documentation; research relevant to the element; measures including legislation for the preservation and protection of the element; enhancement and promotion of the element through formal and informal education within the community itself.

  • Documentation of community involvement leading up to the element’s nomination.

It is necessary to indicate the nature of involvement of the community or communities, groups or, if applicable, individuals concerned with the element. Evidence of free and informed consent from these parties must be included in the nomination file in the form of letters, a video or by the sending of materials directly affiliated with the element being nominated.

  • The inclusion of the element in an inventory of intangible cultural heritage present in the State or territories of the submitting party or parties.

The element must be formally inventoried and/or cataloged and be made part of a formal register or national inventory by the direct request of the submitting party which has presented itself as the privileged custodian of the element and is prepared to safeguard and protect the element as intangible cultural heritage.