UN committee adds 20 new items to intangible cultural heritage list

5 December 2012

A United Nations committee tasked with protecting the world’s oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, craftsmanship and knowledge of nature today added 20 new items to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat, the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh (India), the cherry festival in Sefrou, Morocco, and the craftsmanship and performance art of the long-necked lute known as the Tar are among the elements chosen by the 24-member Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

To be inscribed by the committee, which is meeting this week at the Paris headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), elements must comply with a series of criteria, including contributing to spreading the knowledge of intangible cultural heritage and promoting awareness of its importance.

The new elements added today represent Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mali, Morocco, Oman and the Republic of Korea.

Intangible cultural heritage encompasses practices and living expressions handed down from one generation to the next. The committee will examine close to 60 candidacies for inscription before the current session closes on Friday.

In addition to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the committee will also consider candidacies for inclusion on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which is designed to rally international cooperation and assistance to safeguard threatened cultural expressions, as well as the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices.

Only those countries that have ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage can present elements for inscription on the lists. To date 146 countries have ratified the Convention, which was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003.


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