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Património Cultural

Inventorying the Intangible Heritage

Legal framework:

Under the Basic Law of Cultural Heritage, the only requirement for intangible cultural assets to be legally protected is to be inventoried. In fact, none of the 3 levels of protection (‘national’, ‘public’ or ‘municipal’ interest) established for ‘classification’ of movable and immovable property are applicable to intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

Thus, the only form of legal protection of the ICH valid at national level is the inscription of an intangible asset in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which stems from the Basic Law of Cultural Heritage and is specified by Decree-Law No. 149/2015 of 4 August establishing the legal regime for safeguarding the ICH.

Since 2011 the inventory of the ICH has been carried out using an online database of public, universal and free access, the MatrizPCI. This is a pioneering information system at international level, which promotes the procedure for legal protection of the intangible cultural heritage. This is done in an entirely dematerialised way, with exclusive use of information technologies.

The 2003 Convention:

In accordance with the provisions of Decree-Law No. 149/2015 of 4 August, it is mandatory to register any expression of intangible cultural heritage in the “National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage” prior to application for inclusion on the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” or on the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding”, established by the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO, 2003).

The role of ICH holders:

According to the legislation in force (both national legislation and the UNESCO 2003 Convention), the communities holding intangible expressions must be involved in their legal protection. This procedure cannot be conducted exclusively by institutions without the participation, consent and active involvement of their respective communities, groups and individuals.

In addition to the involvement of holders of the ICH in the inventory procedure or legal protection, several other entities are called upon to participate, including the Regional Directorates of Culture and the relevant municipal authorities. At the public consultation stage, all public or private entities, including members of the communities or groups ofholders, may express their views on the request for inventory.

Click here on the MatrizPCI to initiate the legal protection procedure for an intangible heritage expression