Normative Action

Smiles and Flowers © Diego Rossi/UNESCO

Smiles and Flowers © Diego Rossi/UNESCO

Legal instruments enable States to more effectively protect all forms of culture. UNESCO elaborates legal instruments in the form of declarations, recommendations or conventions, which are adopted by UNESCO's Member States. 

Operational principles of legal instruments:

Declaration: a purely moral or political commitment, linking States on the basis of good faith.

Recommendation: Addressed to one or more States, a Recommendation is intended to encourage them to adopt a particular approach or to act in a given manner in a specific cultural sphere. In principle, a Recommendation does not create a legally binding obligation on Member States.

Convention: Synonymous with treaty, this term refers to any agreement concluded by two or more States. Such an accord implies the joint will of the parties upon whom the convention imposes binding legal commitments.

UNESCO possesses a comprehensive series of standard-setting instruments comprising six Conventions:

For a complete listing of UNESCO normative instruments classified by type and Sector, consult the Standard-Setting Instruments website.

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