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UNESCO Cultural Conventions

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UNESCO’s culture conventions foster the international exchange of knowledge, expertise and mutual understanding. They work towards universal agreement on key cultural issues, set standards and mobilise international support to promote and protect the wealth and diversity of the world’s culture, for both present and future generations.

International Conventions define rules with which States undertake to comply. In the case of UNESCO culture conventions, these rules are designed to support the identification, conservation and protection of culture and heritage around the world. Each international convention is subject to agreement (in the form of ratification, acceptance or accession) by individual States.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is a lead advisor to UK Government on UNESCO’s cultural conventions, including their ratification and implementation. The UKNC also provides expert knowledge and analysis on the larger issues these conventions address. The UKNC also works with UNESCO to help devise innovative and effective ways of realising the goals set forth in these international agreements.

Learn more about each of UNESCO’s culture conventions by selecting from the below headings.

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Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
Thumb: Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
This Convention seeks to protect and promote cultural expressions by ensuring conditions that favour their creation, production and distribution. This includes enhanced access to and enjoyment of these cultural expressions by all
Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
Thumb: Convention on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
This Convention seeks to safeguard and ensure respect for Intangible Cultural Heritage – the practices, representations, expressions and knowledge which are transmitted from generation to generation
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
Thumb: Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
This convention protects the cultural heritage which lies beneath the sea from commercial exploitation and trafficking
Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
Thumb: Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
This Convention established the World Heritage List of sites from around the world considered to have Outstanding Universal Value. The Convention helps ensure the protection and preservation of these sites for all humanity
Convention on Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property (1970)
Thumb: Convention on Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property (1970)
This Convention seeks to stop the theft, looting and illicit trade of cultural property
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
Thumb: Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
The Convention provides a system of protection for cultural property in situations of international and internal conflicts
Universal Copyright Convention (1952, 1971)
Thumb: Universal Copyright Convention (1952, 1971)
This Convention aims to provide adequate and effective protection of the rights of authors and artists


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