Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is often called a living heritage. It includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. ICH is continuously recreated and it evolves as we adapt our practices and traditions in response to our environment. It provides a sense of identity and belonging in relation to our own cultures. People play the key role in the creation and carrying forward of intangible cultural heritage.

Following the accession to the Convention in 2006, the Minister of Culture of Estonia designated the Folk Culture Centre as the main body responsible for the national implementation of the Convention. The Centre participates in the process of developing and carrying out the cultural policy, organizes training courses, and administers support programmes for ICH. A department of ICH was set up with two professional posts. This department organizes awareness-raising and training activities, advises the communities and administers the national inventory of ICH. This new inventory does not directly build on existing databases in order to ensure that the inventory focuses on ICH as living heritage and also to ensure community participation. The purpose of the inventory is to serve the interests of local communities and therefore it is based on the initiative of the communities themselves. 

In 2009 the Minister of Culture of Estonia established a new advisory body – Estonian Council for the ICH – that brings together some 20 experts. The council gives strategic orientations for safeguarding, development and promotion of the ICH in society and approves the entries to national ICH inventory. The ICH Department of the Folk Culture Centre functions as the secretariat of the Council.

Contact:

Estonian Folk Culture Centre
Vilmsi 55, 10147 Tallinn, Estonia
Phone: +372 600 9177
vkp@rahvakultuur.ee

Estonia seeks to secure equal opportunities for all communities living in Estonia, including language and cultural minorities, so that they can safeguard their culture and express their creativity. Accession to the Convention has also resulted in a growing number of international cooperation initiatives involving communities as well as academic and research institutions and state institutions responsible for the implementation of the Convention. Estonia has also used the international mechanisms of the Convention, such as the Representative List to raise awareness at local level on the importance of the ICH for the practitioner and bearer communities as well as for the society at large.