To: UK Government Dept of Culture Media and Sport

The UK Government ratifies the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage

The UK Government ratifies the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage

The UK has a diverse and large number of traditional customs. These are under threat from safety legislation, road traffic laws, high insurance premiums and similar obstacles. Other nations have moved to protect their cultural heritage by placing their traditional customs on a UNESCO list. We urge the Government to ratify the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage so that an obligation is placed on local authorities to protect our traditional customs.

Why is this important?

Our traditional customs are an important part of our National Heritage and in danger of being lost because organisers cannot afford the costs associated with compliance with Health and Safety legislation, insurance costs, security costs and similar placed on them by local authorities. These local authorities should be providing the means for the traditional customs to continue not placing obstacles in the way. E.g. The Bacup Coconut dance (which has been happening in Lancashire for over 150 years) is under threat because they cannot afford to pay for road closures. The Sussex Bonfire tradition is under threat because of increasing legislation and escalating insurance costs from 'ambulance chasers'. Other European nations have protected their customs by listing them with UNESCO, placing an international obligation on local authorities to assist rather than hinder their continuation for future generations. There is no question of compromising public safety but the means to make our customs possible without stretching the resources of the people who carry them out must be found. Nobody questions the resources used for the protection of World Heritage Sites and this is no different. It is good for tourism and for local economies to keep our customs alive.

Reasons for signing

  • I am the Clerk of the stonemasons' Guild of St Stephen & St George, whose line of Master Masons, starting in 1080, is unbroken. We are currently engaged in transmitting this intangible heritage to the next generation and will be training 40 young people serving 7-year apprenticeships over the next decade. Intangible heritage enriches our society, transmits culture, creates value (economic, cultural and social) and sustains ability for the benefit of current and future generations.
  • Cultural heritage is a fundamental part of being human. Like so many of the most important things in life, its worth may be expressed monetarily, but its value is immeasurable, and the way it is performed and passed on is intangible. Yet, these things are precious, as expressions of identity, things of beauty and use, and repositories of knowledge.
  • Our heritage and customs make us the people we are and need protecting for future generations to enjoy and appreciate their heritage. Customs have developed over centuries and should not be jeopardised but protected. We have a magnificent history to treasure whether it is Morris dancing, beating the Bounds, Falconry, Cheese Rolling, - the list is large!!


2013-11-21 12:42:21 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2013-11-20 00:39:40 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2013-11-19 20:44:21 +0000

500 signatures reached

2013-11-19 18:03:44 +0000

100 signatures reached

2013-11-19 17:39:48 +0000

50 signatures reached

2013-11-19 16:56:26 +0000

25 signatures reached

2013-11-19 16:13:22 +0000

10 signatures reached