In today’s interconnected world, culture's power to transform societies is clear. Its diverse manifestations – from our cherished historic monuments and museums to traditional practices and contemporary art forms – enrich our everyday lives in countless ways. Heritage constitutes a source of identity and cohesion for communities disrupted by bewildering change and economic instability. Creativity contributes to building open, inclusive and pluralistic societies. Both heritage and creativity lay the foundations for vibrant, innovative and prosperous knowledge societies.
UNESCO is convinced that no development can be sustainable without a strong culture component. Indeed only a human-centred approach to development based on mutual respect and open dialogue among cultures can lead to lasting, inclusive and equitable results. Yet until recently, culture has been missing from the development equation.
To ensure that culture takes it rightful place in development strategies and processes, UNESCO has adopted a three-pronged approach: it spearheads worldwide advocacy for culture and development, while engaging with the international community to set clear policies and legal frameworks and working on the ground to support governments and local stakeholders to safeguard heritage, strengthen creative industries and encourage cultural pluralism.
UNESCO renowned cultural conventions provide a unique global platform for international cooperation and establish a holistic cultural governance system based on human rights and shared values. These international treaties endeavour to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage including ancient archaeological sites, intangible and underwater heritage, museum collections, oral traditions and other forms of heritage, and to support creativity, innovation and the emergence of dynamic cultural sectors.
- The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
- The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
- The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
- The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
- The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
- The Convention on the Protection of Copyright and Neighbouring Rights (1952, 1971)
- The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property (1970)
- The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)