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Contribution to Book
The Competing Objectives Underlying the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Faculty Scholarship
  • Peter K. Yu, Texas A&M University School of Law
Document Type
Publication Date

One topic that has received considerable academic and policy attention concerns the key objectives underlying the establishment of this new framework. To help us develop a better and deeper understanding, this article outlines eight most widely documented objectives. While some of these objectives overlap or conflict with each other, others touch on issues that are of only marginal concern to some constituencies. By focusing on each objective in turn, this article aims to underscore the divergent, and at times competing, interests among the many stakeholders involved in the framework.

Although some readers may find the description of all eight underlying objectives somewhat messy, such messiness is rather common in any negotiations concerning the establishment of a new international framework. Rather than offering a subjective evaluation of the importance and urgency of each objective, or combining them to deduce some organizing principles, this article presents the objectives as they appear in the current policy debate. After all, policymakers, commentators, activists and the public at large are likely to value these objectives differently. By presenting the objectives together, this article foreshadows the challenges to achieving international consensus on the protection of intangible cultural heritage.

It is worth noting that this article does not distinguish between TK and TCE, even though the former is arguably more important and relevant to agricultural production and food security. There are at least two reasons. First, indigenous peoples and traditional communities embrace a holistic worldview. They do not make clear distinctions between TK and TCE, and they ‘regard expressions of their traditional cultures/folklore as inseparable from systems of traditional knowledge’.8 Second, because the discussions of TK and TCE are somewhat intertwined, a comprehensive discussion will be needed to fully understand the competing objectives underlying the protection of intangible cultural heritage.

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The full-text version of the report is available at

Denis Borges Barbosa & Marcos Wachowicz
Book Title
Propriedade Intelectual: Desenvolvimento Na Agricultura
File Type
Citation Information
Peter K. Yu. "The Competing Objectives Underlying the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage" (2016) p. 269 - 298
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