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The intangible cultural heritage (ICH) of the world’s communities is an inheritance that has been passed down through many generations. Its survival, however, is increasingly threatened by the realities of post-modern society, such as rapid urbanisation, large-scale migration, severe environmental change and globalisation. In 2003, the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage recognised the importance of ICH, both as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a source of sustainable development. Early efforts to implement the convention are bringing to light issues that are crucial to the survival of ICH. Many of these involve its interaction with intellectual property law.
To clarify the relationship between these two fields, the present volume gathers the views of scholars and practitioners with diverse expertise and national backgrounds. They examine four main issues: the construction and operation of ICH inventories; the conceptualisation of the “community” as a holder of ICH; how to obtain the community’s prior informed consent; and the pros and cons of various regulatory regimes. Despite the variety in the contributions, the common thread in the book is the authors’ belief that regulatory regimes must be designed so that ICH will not only be safeguarded in archives and museums but also in its living form.
Toshiyuki Kono is Professor of Law at Kyushu University, Japan. He participated as an expert in the drafting of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and its Operational Directives.