Mapping the Potential Interactions between UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage Regime and World Trade Law

Tomer Broude*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (CSICH) was not intended to have legal repercussions in international trade. Nevertheless, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) may interact with trade regulation under various scenarios. The CSICH Representative List inscribes numerous ICH elements with real and potential international commercial aspects and consequent trade law implications. These emergent trade law-ICH regime dynamics require not only some critical reflection (for example, is safeguarding of ICH ultimately dependent on commodification or, at least in some cases, significantly prone to commercial capture?) but also doctrinal legal analysis. This article undertakes a survey of many plausible ICH-trade interactions (generally excluding intellectual property issues), providing an analytical framework with reference to a series of case sketches of selected CSICH inscriptions such as kimjang, beer culture in Belgium, and yoga. These and other cases may indeed raise issues under world trade law, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, and subsidies regulation. Trade law may have underestimated the significance of ICH as a growing field. At the same time, ICH law may be developing without thinking through how it is impacted by commercial interests and international trade law.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)419-448
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Property
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © International Cultural Property Society 2019Â.


  • Beer
  • Collectives
  • Commodification
  • Culture
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • International Trade Regulation
  • Kimchi
  • Subsidies
  • WTO
  • Yoga


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