First Intangible Cultural Heritage list launched in Sint Maarten

Intangible cultural heritage includes everything that culture expresses in a non-material way. It includes practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills - and associated instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces - that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.

With the loss of cultural heritage, a nation loses not only its history, but also its identity. Therefore, the safeguarding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is crucial for the promotion of respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

Since October 2003, UNESCO has adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This Convention, often referred to as the Convention 2003, considers the importance of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development. UNESCO recognizes ICH within the processes of rapid globalization and social transformation, for a crucial factor that strengthens community dialogues, reinforces tolerance in light of cultural diversity, and strives to safeguard such intangible heritage, which faces threats of deterioration, disappearance and destruction.

On Monday, October 14, 2019, the Department of Culture within the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (MECYS) of the Caribbean Small Island Developing State Sint Maarten, in collaboration with the Sint Maarten National Commission for UNESCO officially launched its First National Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Inventory.

ICH is transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is made up of five domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage
  • Performing Arts
  • Social practices, rituals, and festive events
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
  • Traditional Craftsmanship