Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 9.A.1

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Cambodia has nominated Kun Lbokkator (No. 00980) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

The term ‘Kun’ describes the martial art of fighting, leaping and confronting opponents, developed by warriors of the ancient Khmer Empire. The term ‘Lbokkator’ refers to all combat techniques involving the half-kneeling position. Kun Lbokkator is based on twelve positions and the combination of the various positions forms a specific combat technique. Knowledge of the technique developed over time into a performing art or traditional leisure game, practised during traditional festivities such as the Day of the Dead, the Buddhist Solidarity Festival and the Khmer New Year. A large number of Lbokkator fighting techniques have become essential building blocks for classic and folk dances and some combat scenes of Bassac theatre. The art is traditionally transmitted through training dispensed by masters on a voluntary basis. At present, Kun Lbokkator is facing several threats to its continued practice. The method of transmitting knowledge has broken down, as many masters are now very aged, young people are disinterested and there are no regular teaching programmes or learning materials to facilitate transmission.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination does not satisfy the following criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List:

U.1:   While much historical information has been provided on the element, the nomination does not provide a clear description of its cultural meaning and social function in Cambodian society today, nor of the characteristics of its bearers and modes of transmission; moreover, it is not demonstrated that it is recognized by clearly defined communities as constituting part of their intangible cultural heritage;

U.2:   Although most masters are more than 75 years old and young people are generally disinterested in investing the time necessary to acquire the practice, the nomination lacks clear description of the viability of the element today, notably the extent of its practice and transmission; it argues for the importance of safeguarding the element but does not provide the necessary evidence of its current condition;

U.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures do not reflect the active participation of the community in their formulation or implementation and do not respond effectively to the threats facing the element, which are moreover insufficiently specified; activities are to be undertaken primarily by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, other institutions and the National Committee for the Safeguarding and Promotion of Kun Lbokkator, without a specific timetable and allocation of resources provided for their implementation;

U.4:   The wide and active participation of the community in all the stages of the nomination process, and in particular in the elaboration of the proposed safeguarding measures, has not been demonstrated; community members served only as informants and not as active partners in the process, with consent submitted by the Federation of Keila Lbokkator Kampuchea, whose responsibility towards the element and its communities is nowhere explained;

U.5:   Kun Lbokkator was registered by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in the inventory of intangible cultural heritage of Cambodia in 2012 but the nomination does not demonstrate that it was drawn up with the participation of the communities concerned or that it will be regularly updated, in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Decides not to inscribe Kun Lbokkator on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  2. Recognizes the initiative of the submitting State to safeguard Kun Lbokkator;
  3. Invites the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination, to better describe the communities concerned and to involve practitioners and community members more widely in the inventorying process and in the elaboration of the nomination;
  4. Encourages the State Party to provide more details on the social functions and cultural meanings the element holds for practitioners and the community today, and on how they recognize it as constituting their intangible cultural heritage;
  5. Further encourages the State Party to identify specific threats and their degree of severity and to ensure that the proposed safeguarding measures respond adequately to them and reflect the active participation of the community;
  6. Recalls that the nomination must demonstrate not only the existence of an inventory but how it has been drawn up in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention;
  7. Further recalls that, in accordance with its previous decision 7.COM 20.2, information placed in inappropriate sections of a nomination cannot be taken into consideration.