Skip to main content




Association for Natural Medicine in Europe e.V.

... for natural health promotion in Europe!


Association for Natural Medicine in Europe e.V.

... for natural health promotion in Europe!


Intangible Cultural Heritage and T&CM Methods

What are the connections between Intangible Cultural Heritage (IKE) in the sense of the UNESCO Convention of 2003 and the healing systems and methods of Traditional & Complementary Medicine and Healing?

The classification official or unofficial means first of all recognition as a significant socio-cultural achievement. Historically, as well as for the present and the future, the intangible cultural heritage contains experiences and traditions that have a high value for people. More detailed information on the subject can be found in the preamble to the UNESCO Convention, which was adopted by the international community in 2003:

“The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization hereinafter referred to as UNESCO, meeting in Paris, from 29 September to 17 October 2003, at its 32nd session,

Referring to existing international human rights instruments, in particular to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

Considering the importance of the intangible cultural heritage as a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development, as underscored in the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore of 1989, in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity of 2001, and in the Istanbul Declaration of 2002 adopted by the Third Round Table of Ministers of Culture,

Considering the deep-seated interdependence between the intangible cultural heritage and the tangible cultural and natural heritage,

Recognizing that the processes of globalization and social transformation, alongside the conditions they create for renewed dialogue among communities, also give rise, as does the phenomenon of intolerance, to grave threats of deterioration, disappearance and destruction of the intangible cultural heritage, in particular owing to a lack of resources for safeguarding such heritage,

Being aware of the universal will and the common concern to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of humanity,

Recognizing that communities, in particular indigenous communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, play an important role in the production, safeguarding, maintenance and re-creation of the intangible cultural heritage, thus helping to enrich cultural diversity and human creativity,

Noting the far-reaching impact of the activities of UNESCO in establishing normative instruments for the protection of the cultural heritage, in particular the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972,

Noting further that no binding multilateral instrument as yet exists for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage,

Considering that existing international agreements, recommendations and resolutions concerning the cultural and natural heritage need to be effectively enriched and supplemented by means of new provisions relating to the intangible cultural heritage,

Considering the need to build greater awareness, especially among the younger generations, of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage and of its safeguarding,

Considering that the international community should contribute, together with the States Parties to this Convention, to the safeguarding of such heritage in a spirit of cooperation and mutual assistance,

Recalling UNESCO’s programs relating to the intangible cultural heritage, in particular the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,

Considering the invaluable role of the intangible cultural heritage as a factor in bringing human beings closer together and ensuring exchange and understanding among them,

Adopts this Convention on this seventeenth day of October 2003.”

Whether this convention is also ratified in the national jurisdiction is determined by the national parliaments and the ministry for education themselves. The headquarters of the International Bureau for Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO is in Paris. There are two forms of official recognition: international listing and national listing.

To date, the following methods of T&CM have been recognized internationally:

In states with German language the following branches are on the national list:

Link to the complete text of the UNESCO-IKE-Convention of 2003 in 32 languages:Linguistic versions of the 2003 Convention