27.11.2009 -

UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Convention “fully operational” (sólo en inglés)

[Translate to espanol:] Abu Dhabi, 02 October – The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today in Abu Dhabi closed the 4th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage. He welcomed the fact that the Intangible Heritage Convention adopted in 2003 became a fully operational legal instrument so quickly.

[Translate to espanol:] "I was surprised, upon my arrival in UNESCO, to note the relatively low priority given to living heritage compared to the strong focus on the tangible part of the world’s cultures," said Mr Matsuura, whose second term at the head of the Organization will end in a few weeks. "Over the past ten years, far-reaching and noble achievements have been attained," he said, noting that Haiti and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have joined the 114 countries that are already States Parties to the Convention.


"It is no secret that I have been an ardent advocate of the intangible cultural heritage since becoming Director-General in 1999. I am deeply satisfied to have witnessed the first series of inscriptions of intangible heritage on the Urgent Safeguarding List and Representative List, as well as the selection of good safeguarding practices."


"Everyone present is aware," added the Director-General, "of the significance of what has happened here this week. By making the first set of inscriptions on the two lists established by the 2003 Convention, and opening the register of good practices, the Convention has become fully operational."

During the five-day meeting, which was chaired by Awadh Ali Saleh Al Musabi (United Arab Emirates), the Committee launched the List of Intangible Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, on which it inscribed 12 elements proposed by eight countries (Belarus, China, France, Kenya, Latvia, Mali, Mongolia and Viet Nam). It considered that the viability of these cultural practices is endangered despite the efforts of the communities or groups concerned. Following the inscription, States concerned will implement specific safeguarding plans, as indicated in their nomination files. Endangered elements will also be eligible for financial assistance from the Fund established to this end.

With the inscription of cultural practices such as the tango (presented by Argentina and Uruguay), India’s Ramman religious festival, Chinese sericulture and France’s Aubusson tapestries, 76 new elements were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The List now numbers a total 166 elements from 76 countries and from the Palestinian Territories.

The Committee also selected three programmes, projects and activities that it considered reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention particularly well: the Centre for traditional culture school-museum of Pusol (Spain); a project to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the Aymara communities of Bolivia, Chile and Peru; and an education and training project in Indonesian Batik cultural heritage, developed in cooperation with the Pekalongan Batik Museum. The Committee hopes to use this register of good practices to raise public awareness regarding the importance of intangible heritage and its safeguarding.

The 5th session of the Committee will take place in Kenya in 2010.

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Press Release No. 2009-109


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