The Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in 2003, recommends the protection of elements such as oral traditions, performing arts, rituals and festive events and knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, among other things, the United Nations said in a release issued from New York.
About 400 delegates, representatives and observers were expected to attend the five-day convention, overseen by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
"The convention is one of the most innovative instruments that we have developed to address contemporary challenges," Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director general, said in her opening address. "I see our commitment to intangible heritage as an act of solidarity, respect and understanding of others."
During the summit, delegates will examine four elements offered for inclusion on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. Bokova said the first list contains cultural elements at risk of dying out despite efforts of communities and groups that practice them.
Representatives also will consider 47 items for inclusion on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a UNESCO program that helps ensure better protection of cultural heritages and the awareness of their significance.