In 2019, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage met from 9 to 14 December 2019, 2600 meters closer to the stars, in Bogotá, in Colombia. Ms Maria Claudia Lopez Sorzano, Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Sports of the city of Bogotá chaired the Committee.
The Committee opened with a beautiful ceremony displaying the colourful Carnival of Barranquilla, introduced by the president of the Republic of Colombia, Mr Ivan Duque, and the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay.
During six days, the Agora Bogotá Centro de convenciones welcomed over 1400 participants representing 134 countries. Aside from the plenary session, these participants had the opportunity to attend many stimulating and exceptional side-events, such as the sound exhibition featuring indigenous languages, or discussions with experts from all over the world sharing their experience on how to safeguard intangible cultural heritage in crises.
Many new elements were inscribed on the lists; five elements on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, thirty-five on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, two elements were selected as programmes, projects and activities that best reflect the principles and objectives of the Convention, and finally two International Assistance requests were granted.
The Committee took historic decisions. For the first time since the creation of the 2003 Convention, an element was removed from the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity because it no longer complied with Article 2 of the Convention.
Other highlights of the meeting include the advancement on the reflection on the listing mechanisms and the participation of NGOs in the work of the Convention, which led to fruitful discussions. The efforts to improve these mechanisms are ongoing and promising for the future of the Convention. Furthermore, new operational principles and modalities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in emergencies were endorsed, and revisions to the Operational Directives for the implementation of the Convention were proposed to be examined by the General Assembly in June 2020.
The first Committee session to take place in the Latin American and the Caribbean region was a great success and pushed forward the agenda for the safeguarding of living heritage. The discussions will no doubt continue throughout the year and pave the way towards an interesting fifteenth Committee session, which will take place in Kingston, Jamaica, in December 2020.