Joint statement from Intangible Cultural Heritage Scotland Partnership

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Scotland Partnership welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of their intention to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is a tradition, practice, or living expression of a group or community. This can include oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, and traditional crafts.  Examples of ICH in Scotland are wide reaching, including practices such as Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Festival or Edinburgh Mela, cultural traditions such as bothy ballads, bagpiping, and clootie wells, games such as shinty, the making of food such as haggis, and traditional crafts such as thatching and Fair Isle knitting.

In Scotland, work on ICH has been supported through a partnership involving Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland) and Creative Scotland. The partnership draws upon a wealth of knowledge, research, and expertise, and works together with academic institutions, interested networks, and ICH practitioners. The partners look forward to continuing to collaborate to support understanding and recording of ICH and to extending that work as ratification is further explored.

Collaborative working among sector lead bodies and representatives of community ICH practitioners will be vital, and we will be working to identify opportunities for further discussion and consultation over the coming months.

We also look forward to future sharing and learning from good practice across the UK and internationally, building links worldwide with ICH supporting bodies, including UNESCO.

The partnership will be planning opportunities to feed into consultations in early 2024 so look out for details of these.

TRACS is also pleased to announce that, at the international meeting in Botswana in December 2023, the Intergovernmental Committee of the UNESCO 2003 Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) officially recommended the approval of TRACS’ application for accreditation as an expert NGO advisor on ICH.

The final stage of TRACS’ appointment will be the ratification of this decision at the General Assembly in Paris next year.

All being well, TRACS will join Museums Galleries Scotland as only the second accredited organisation in Scotland for ICH.

You can read a release from the UK Government release here Scottish traditions to be formally recognised as UK joins UNESCO Convention – GOV.UK (

For further information on ICH

Finally, enjoy TRACS’s celebration of 20 years of the UNESCO 2003 Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage, in shape of a song written by David Francis, Director of the Traditional Music Forum Scotland, performing together with Steve Byrne, Director of TRACS (Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland).