In charge of implementing UNESCO’s International Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Committee’s first task is to prepare operational directives for the Convention, with particular attention to assistance mechanisms and criteria for inscription.
The 2003 Convention aims to safeguard a wide range of living heritage in forms such as oral traditions and expressions; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices relating to nature and the universe; and know-how linked to traditional crafts. Two Lists are established under the Convention: the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The first inscriptions on the Lists should be carried out in the autumn of 2008.
Among the masterpieces of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity proclaimed by UNESCO in 2001, 2003 and 2005, are manifestations such as the Oruro Carnival (Bolivia), the Ningyo Johruri Bunraku puppet theatre (Japan) and the Ahellil of Gourara, a poetic and musical genre emblematic of southwest Algeria.
In March 2004, Algeria became the first State to deposit its instrument of ratification of the Convention. As of 13 November 2006, 68 States ratified the Convention.