Recognizing importance of living heritage during pandemic

Despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage have decided to hold the annual meeting of their Intergovernmental Committee from 14 to 19 December online.

The opening ceremony of the session will take place in Kingston, Jamaica, on 14 December, with the participation of Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and Olivia Grange, Chairperson of the Committee and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport of Jamaica, who will then lead the online debates for six days between12.30 to 3.30 pm UTC.

A digital platform created by UNESCO shows the negative impact of the health crisis on living heritage in more than 70 countries, notably in small island developing states, despite its fundamental role in times of physical distancing and lockdowns.

The Committee received 40 requests for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Committee members will also have to decide on four nominations for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. In addition, four projects are proposed for inclusion in the Register of Good Practices for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, of which there are 22 to date. The Committee will also examine two requests for international assistance submitted by Malawi and the Central African Republic, respectively for an intangible heritage safeguarding project and a capacity-building project.

On the occasion of the Committee, UNESCO will launch the innovative graphic tool “Dive into Intangible Cultural Heritage”, which highlights the contribution of living heritage to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) promotes support for cultural practices inherited from our ancestors and transmitted to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, or the knowledge and skills necessary for traditional craftsmanship. Composed of representatives of 24 States Parties to the Convention, the Intergovernmental Committee meets once a year to monitor the implementation of this legal instrument which has been ratified by 180 States.

Current nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List of Intangible Cultural Heritage this year are :

  • Colombia — Traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa of Putumayo and Nariño
  • Egypt — Handmade weaving in Upper Egypt (Sa’eed)
  • Georgia — Wheat culture in Georgia, culture of wheat endemic species and landraces cultivation and utilization in Georgia
  • Namibia — Aixan/Gana/Ob#ANS TSI //Khasigu, ancestral musical sound knowledge and skills
  • Urgent Safeguarding List
  • Colombia — Traditional knowledge and techniques associated with Pasto Varnish mopa-mopa of Putumayo and Nariño
  • Egypt — Handmade weaving in Upper Egypt (Sa’eed)
  • Georgia — Wheat culture in Georgia, culture of wheat endemic species and landraces cultivation and utilization in Georgia
  • Namibia — Aixan/Gana/Ob#ANS TSI //Khasigu, ancestral musical sound knowledge and skills

Representative List

  • Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia — Knowledge, know-how and practices pertaining to the production and consumption of couscous
  • Argentina – Chamamé
  • Azerbaijan — Nar Bayrami, traditional pomegranate festivity and culture
  • Azerbaijan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Turkey, Uzbekistan — Art of miniature
  • Bangladesh — Traditional art of nakshi kantha embroidery
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina — Grass mowing competition custom in Kupres
  • Cambodia — Kun Lbokator
  • China – Taijiquan
  • China; Malaysia — Ong Chun/Wangchuan/Wangkang ceremony, rituals and related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between man and the ocean
  • Croatia — Festivity of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo (chain dance) of Saint Tryphon, traditions of Croats from the Bay of Kotor who live in the Republic of Croatia
  • Czechia — Handmade production of Christmas tree decorations from blown glass beads
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — Custom of Korean costume in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • Finland — Sauna culture in Finland
  • France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy — Musical art of horn players, an instrumental technique linked to singing, breath control, vibrato, resonance of place and conviviality
  • Hungary — Pottery making tradition in Hungary
  • Indonesia, Malaysia — Pantun
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of), Armenia — Pilgrimage to the St. Thaddeus Apostle Monastery
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of), Syrian Arab Republic — Crafting and playing the Oud
  • Iran (Islamic Republic of); Tajikistan — Ceremony of Mehrgan
  • Italy, France –The art of glass beads
  • Japan — Traditional skills, techniques and knowledge for the conservation and transmission of wooden architecture in Japan
  • Kazakhstan — Orteke, Kazakh traditional puppet-musical performing art
  • Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey — Traditional intelligence and strategy game: Togyzqumalaq, Toguz Korgool, Mangala/Göçürme
  • Malawi, Zimbabwe — Art of crafting and playing Mbira/Sansi, the finger-plucking traditional musical instrument in Malawi and Zimbabwe
  • Malta — Il-Ftira, culinary art and culture of flattened sourdough bread in Malta
  • Oman — Khanjar, knowledge of cultural and social practices
  • Paraguay — Practices and traditional knowledge of Terere in the culture of Pohã Ñana, Guaraní ancestral drink in Paraguay
  • Poland, Belarus — Tree beekeeping culture
  • Republic of Korea — Yeondeunghoe, lantern lighting festival in the Republic of Korea
  • Romania — Traditional music band from Romania
  • Saudi Arabia –Knowledge and practices related to cultivating Khawlani coffee beans
  • Saudi Arabia, Kuwait — Traditional weaving of Al Sadu
  • Serbia — Zlakusa pottery making, hand-wheel pottery making in the village of Zlakusa
  • Singapore — Hawker culture in Singapore, community dining and culinary practices in a multicultural urban context
  • Spain –Wine Horses
  • Switzerland; France – Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics
  • Tunisia — Charfia fishing in the Kerkennah Islands
  • United Arab Emirates — Al Aflaj, traditional irrigation network system in the UAE, oral traditions, knowledge and skills of construction, maintenance and equitable water distribution
  • United Arab Emirates, Oman — Camel racing, a social practice and a festive heritage associated with camels
  • Zambia — Budima dance

Nominations to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

  • Albania — National Folk Festival of Gjirokastra (NFFoGj), 50 years best practice in safeguarding Albanian intangible heritage
  • France — The Martinique yole, from construction to sailing practices, a model for heritage safeguarding
  • Germany, Austria, France, Norway, Switzerland — Craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten, in Europe, know-how, transmission, development of knowledge and innovation
  • Greece — Polyphonic caravan, researching, safeguarding and promoting the Epirus polyphonic song

The List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding identifies elements of living heritage whose survival is under threat. Consisting to date of 64 inscribed elements, it enables States Parties to the Convention to mobilize international cooperation and assistance to support the transmission of these cultural practices in agreement with the communities concerned.

The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity has 463 inscribed elements. It aims to give greater visibility to cultural practices and skills carried by communities.

  • To browse the lists
  • New inscriptions will be announced live on twitter : @unesco and @unesco_en
  • Live webcast of the session
  • A technical press briefing will take place on 15 December, 4.45 pm Paris time, 3.45 UTC.
  • The new inscriptions will be recapped in a press release at the end of the meeting.
  • Press resources

Videos of inscribed elements will be available on following pages:

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