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:
- Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
- Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
- Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
- Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
- Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property (1970)
- Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)
For a complete listing of UNESCO normative instruments classified by type and Sector, consult the Standard-Setting Instruments website.