Is the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention up to the task it has set for itself?
In this introduction to volume 2, 2007, of International Journal of Intangible Heritage, Richard Kurin explores a number of questions: What is to be safeguarded? What types of agencies should implement the treaty? What role should cultural communities play? What are the strategies for safeguarding?
He concludes 'One would hope that as the ICH Convention becomes operational, explicit action plans about how organisations and departments working with communities actually safeguard ICH are devised, shared and evaluated by the International Committee and the world’s cultural workers. I have argued strongly that our empirical research, analyses and theoretical work has been quite insufficient to actually figure out how to best safeguard ICH. What specific interventions actually work to save a language and an oral tradition? What has been tried with regard to keeping a traditional knowledge system alive, dynamic and viable in the contemporary world? My expectation is that the treaty will evolve, as will the various safeguarding practices it defines and encourages, so that in the decades hence we will have a much better, clearer, more empirically-based idea of how to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the world’s peoples.'