38 Degrees are lobbying Government to speed up the process of ratifying the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Traditions agreement on behalf of the UK.
The UK’s diverse traditional customs 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. 38 Degrees are urging 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.
By placing the UK’s rich heritage of cultural traditions, including music, dance and customs, on a UNESCO list, the Government will be building in a form of protection and future-proofing. This agreement is about acknowledging, preserving, supporting and sustaining intangible cultural activities at official, national and global levels.
“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.
For example 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.” - 38 Degrees website