New York, Feb 16 2005 12:00PM

A treaty to protect the world's oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, craftsmanship and knowledge of nature is on track to enter into force next year following a slew of new ratifications, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.phpURL_ID=15006&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
UNESCO) said today.

Eleven countries - Algeria, Mauritius, Japan, Gabon, Panama, China, Central African Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Republic of Korea - have now
ratified the Convention on the Safeguarding on the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO's General Conference in 2003.

"If this rhythm is maintained, we could expect the Convention to enter into force next year. This is very good news for those who're justly concerned about the threats weighing against this particularly vulnerable heritage," UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said, noting that the 11 ratifications only 16 months after its adoption placed it among those most rapidly ratified.

It will come into force three months after the thirtieth State deposits its instruments of ratification.

The treaty, completing UNESCO's normative instruments on the conservation of tangible cultural heritage, aims to safeguard oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, traditional craftsmanship, as well as knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

It provides for drawing up national inventories of cultural elements that must be protected, the creation of an Intergovernmental Committee comprising experts from future States Parties, and the creation of two lists: one covering the intangible heritage of humanity, and the other featuring parts of that heritage considered to be in urgent need of safeguarding.
2005-02-16 00:00:00.000