UNESCO has developed a number of international conventions relating to the protection of cultural and intellectual heritage. The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which came into force in April 2006, aims to safeguard oral traditions and expressions, including language, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, and knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. However, it focuses only on intangible heritage.
The UNESCO World Heritage Convention, on the other hand, focuses on protecting both cultural and natural heritage, and recognises the inter-linkages between landscapes, culture, traditional knowledge and biodiversity. It recognises that ‘cultural 1andscapes’, which are associated with a traditional way of life, often reflect techniques of sustainable land use and a specific spiritual relation to nature. And it recognises their role in maintaining biodiversity.
While these are valuable instruments, national governments rather than indigenous peoples and local communities largely control their development and their implementation at international, national and local level.