15.11.2010 - UNESCOPRESS

Nairobi hosting 5th session of Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: 51 nominations for inscription on UNESCO lists

© UNESCO/David Sthel - UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova.

The fifth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage opened today in Nairobi. Among those present were Kenyan Vice-President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Minister of Education and Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO Samson Kegeo Ongeri, Minister of State for National Heritage and Culture William Ole Ntimana, and UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova.

Some 400 representatives of States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and of civil society as well as observers are attending the annual event, held for the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 “The Convention is one of the most innovative instruments that we have developed to address contemporary challenges,” said Ms Bokova in her opening address. “I see our commitment to intangible heritage as an act of solidarity, respect and understanding of others. Ratified by 132 States, 181 elements are currently inscribed on its lists. Each of these bears witness to humanity’s great diversity and its unity.”

 “The absence at this session of a single African candidate should command our attention. And at the same time as we rejoice, we should feel an obligation towards the African continent and to all those who have an extremely rich intangible heritage and who are not fittingly represented in the Convention’s Lists,” continued Ms Bokova. “That is why I welcome the implementation of an ambitious strategy to increase capacity” in the African countries that have signed the Convention.

 “International conventions that guide preservation of heritage demand uniform application of adherence,” said Kenyan Vice-President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka. “Kenya is ready and willing to take on more projects that bring out and preserve our heritage. Such a pursuit would increase the visibility of our diverse cultural values and traditions and promote mutual respect and dialogue amongst Kenya’s various communities.”

 During the five-day meeting, the Committee will examine 4 elements presented for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and 47 elements for the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is a list of cultural elements whose viability is at risk despite the efforts of the communities and groups that practice them. In order to be inscribed on this list, States must pledge to implement special protection plans. They may benefit from financial assistance from a Fund managed by UNESCO. During the meeting in Nairobi, the Committee will examine four nominations for the inscription on this List from two States, China and Croatia.

 The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which already has 166 elements from 77 countries, will be enriched by new elements. On this occasion, the Committee will examine 47 nominations from 29 States. In order to be inscribed, the elements must comply with a series of criteria, including contributing to spreading the knowledge of intangible cultural heritage and promoting awareness of its importance. Nominees for the inscription must also justify protective measures taken to ensure their viability.

 All the elements inscribed on the lists must fit the definition of “intangible cultural heritage” laid down in the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. They must also be included in an inventory and have been nominated by States after the greatest possible participation of the communities that practice them, with their prior, free and informed consent.

           Adopted in 2003 and ratified by 132 States, this Convention recommends the protection of elements such as oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and know-how related to traditional handicrafts. It is considered that they constitute a living heritage, which, when transmitted from generation to generation, give communities and groups a feeling of identity and continuity that is considered essential for the respect of cultural diversity and human creativity. Consisting of 24 members elected by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Committee is one of its governing organs.

Nominations for the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

    China – Meshrep
    China – The watertight-bulkhead technology of Chinese junks
    China – Wooden movable-type printing of China
    Croatia – Ojkanje singing

Nominations for the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

    Armenia – Armenian cross-stones art. Symbolism and craftsmanship of Khachkars
    Azerbaijan – The Azerbaijani carpet
    Belgium – The Aalst carnival
    Belgium – Houtem Jaarmarkt, annual winter fair and livestock market at Sint-Lievens-Houtem
    Belgium – Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrand, end-of-winter bread and fire feast at Geraardsbergen
    China – Acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine 
    China – Peking Opera
    Colombia – Marimba music and traditional chants from Colombia’s South Pacific region
    Colombia – The Wayuu normative system, applied by the Pütchipü’üi (palabrero)
    Croatia – Gingerbread craft from Northern Croatia
    Croatia – The Sinjska Alka, a knights’ tournament in Sinj 
    Spain – Flamenco
    Spain – Human towers
    Spain – The chant of the Sybil on Majorca 
    Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco – The Mediterranean diet
    France – Compagnonnage, network for on-the-job transmission of knowledge and identities
    France – The craftsmanship of Alençon needle lace-making 
    France –The gastronomic meal of the French 
    India – Chhau dance
    India – Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan 
    India – Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala 
    Indonesia – Indonesian Angklung
    Iran (Islamic Republic of) – The music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan
    Iran (Islamic Republic of) – The Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals 
    Iran (Islamic Republic of) – The ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye
    Iran (Islamic Republic of) – Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars
    Iran (Islamic Republic of) – Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan 
    Japan – Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre 
    Japan – Yuki-tsumugi, silk fabric production technique 
    Lithuania – Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs 
    Luxemburg – The hopping procession of Echternach 
    Mexico – Parachicos in the traditional January feast of Chiapa de Corzo 
    Mexico – Pirekua, traditional song of the P’urhépecha 
    Mexico – Traditional Mexican cuisine - authentic, ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm
    Mongolia – Naadam, Mongolian traditional festival
    Mongolia – The Mongolian traditional art of Khöömei
    Oman - Al-Bar’ah, music and dance of Oman Dhofari valleys
    Peru – Huaconada, ritual dance of Mito
    Peru – The scissors dance
    Czech Republic – Shrovetide door-to-door processions and masks in the villages of the Hlinecko area
    Republic of Korea – Daemokjang, traditional wooden architecture
    Republic of Korea – Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra
    Turkey – Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival 
    Turkey – Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi ritual
    Turkey – Traditional Sohbet meetings
    Vietnam – Gióng festival of Phù Ðông and Sóc temples 
    United Arab Emirates; Belgium; Czech Republic; France; Republic of Korea; Mongolia; Morocco; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Spain; Syrian Arab Republic – Falconry, a living human heritage

For more information

Webcast of inscriptions on the Lists on 15 and 16 November


Video interview with Cécile Duvelle (UNESCO)

Download videos of elements inscribed on Urgent Safeguarding list (to come)
Download videos of elements inscribed on Representative List (to come)

Press contacts, UNESCO Division of Public Information:
 Lucía Iglesias Kuntz
+ 33(0)6 07 84 26 76 /   l.iglesias(at)unesco.org;

Isabelle Le Fournis
+ 33(0)6 12 19 74 01 /  i.le-fournis(at)unesco.org

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