Harnessing the power of living heritage for a more peaceful world
‘More than 600 experts, officials and practitioners from more than 110 countries will come together at UNESCO Headquarters from 3 to 7 December to take stock of the world’s intangible cultural heritage and the global measures underway to safeguard it’.
The 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage will meet to take stock of the progress made by States Parties on the legal, regulatory or other measures taken to safeguard intangible cultural heritage in their countries. The impact of inscriptions on the Representative List in their respective countries will also be assessed. The Committee will also examine 56 nominations files including the Indian Buddhist chanting, Ecuadorian straw hat weaving, Italian Cremona violin craftsmanship, and Earthenware pottery-making skills in Botswana’s Kgatleng District.
Intangible cultural heritage encompasses practices and living expressions handed down from one generation to the next. These living traditions are constantly recreated by communities in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history. This dynamism is precisely what makes culture such a powerful force for dialogue, exchange and understanding between peoples. Safeguarding living traditions helps to harness the power of cultural diversity for more cohesive societies and a more peaceful world.
UNESCO has led the way in expanding the definition of cultural heritage, which was long considered as being limited to monuments and works of art. For UNESCO, cultural heritage must encompass not only historic vestiges but also all living culture. As UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, explains, “Intangible cultural heritage is our bridge from the past to the future. It is the way we understand the world and the means by which we shape it. It is a foundation of wisdom and knowledge upon which to build sustainable development for all. Intangible cultural heritage is the precious possession of communities, groups and individuals – only they can safeguard it and pass it on to generations to come.”
Intangible Cultural Heritage includes 5 broad domains
- Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage, such as the Manden Charter, proclaimed in Kurukan Fuga (Mali)
- Performing arts, such as Saman Dance (Indonesia)
- Social practices, rituals and festive events, such as the Houtem Jaarmarkt, annual winter fair and livestock market at Sint-Lievens-Houtem (Belgium)
- Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe such as the Wayuu normative system, applied by the Pütchipü’üi (palabrero) (Colombia)
- Traditional craftsmanship, such as Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates
Culture heritage is not a luxury. Safeguarding cultural heritage is an important way to support practices that are vital for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to set strong foundations for sustainable development.