About this Website

The Belize Living Heritage website was developed by the Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR) of the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) in partnership with local communities, living heritage practitioners, cultural organizations and other stakeholders. The website is part of the wider plan for implementing the UNESCO 2003 Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, and is a platform designed to

  • Increase visibility and awareness for Belize’s living heritage, as well as highlight initiatives which contribute to its safeguarding;
  • Promote the transmission of knowledge and practices associated with Belize’s living heritage;
  • Share good practices and models for safeguarding living heritage in Belize; and
  • Support wider participation of cultural organizations, communities and practitioners to identify and define their own living heritage through contribution to the Inventory. (For instructions on how to contribute to the inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Belize, please visit here.)


The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) is Belize’s premiere cultural institution. Its various departments include the Institute of Archaeology (IoA), Institute of Creative Arts (ICA), Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR) and Museum of Belize & Houses of Culture (MOB – HOC). These departments maintain an open and collaborative approach to cultural heritage promotion, management and safeguarding with its various stakeholders for the cultural and creative industries.

NICH, through ISCR, is the Government agency with responsibility for implementing UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. ISCR conducts cultural research; provides technical assistance and capacity building opportunities to communities in developing safeguarding plans for their living heritage; engages in public outreach and advocacy, and implements living heritage safeguarding projects. The Museum of Belize & Houses of Culture also provide spaces for the enactment of living heritage and coordinates programs which contribute to safeguarding. Some examples of these are featured below:

Past Activities

Living Heritage & The 2003 Convention

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?  

Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) or “living heritage” include cultural forms, traditions and beliefs which form part of a community’s or individual’s heritage. It includes oral traditions and expressions, performing arts and social practices, rituals and festive events, music and dance, traditional medicinal and health practices, and traditional craftsmanship, among others.  It is transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated in response to the environment, and provides a sense of identity and continuity to its practitioners.

Belize has a wealth of cultural practices and beliefs which continue to be relevant and provide meaning in the everyday lives of communities, groups and individuals. While some forms and practices may be under threat, they are important to maintaining our rich cultural diversity. It is an incredibly rich resource, which is why promoting the transmission of living heritage knowledge is important.

Implementing the UNESCO 2003 Convention in Belize


UNESCO Declaration

UNESCO declares The Garifuna Language, Dance and Music as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

This was due, in large part, to the work of the National Garifuna Council and other key individuals and institutions. This program, designed to complement UNESCO’s World Heritage List, focused on the need to preserve traditional and popular culture.

Safeguarding Projects and Plans

Here you will find examples of community safeguarding initiatives, as well as NICH programs, including activities hosted at the district-wide Houses of Culture.

Community Initiatives

NICH Initiatives