Windhoek, 30 November—The 10th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage chaired by Trudie Amulungu of Namibia, opened on 29 November in Windhoek with the participation of 500 delegates from some 100 countries.
Key speakers at the opening ceremony included Laura Mcleod-Katjirua, Governor of Namibia’s Khomas Region, Awad Ali Saleh, Chairperson of the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Stanley Simataa, President of UNESCO’s General Conference, and Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture of Namibia.
Elemotho, the Namibian musician, performed at the ceremony, which also included a dance performance and poetry reading.
“UNESCO has over the years rightly placed great emphasis on the protection of humanity’s intangible heritage. Central to UNESCO’s mission is the recognition that whatever human beings have created, built and invented over the centuries is the collective heritage of all humankind, for which we have to assume collective responsibility. The destruction, abuse, violation and defiling of any item diminishes us all and should be avoided at all costs,” said the Namibian Minister of Education, Arts and Culture. … Like the land we live on and the life that it supports, we protect what we value. For intangible culture to be kept alive, it must remain relevant in the context of the current generation, who must in turn, maintain its relevance going forward.” Ms Hanse-Himarwa said.
UNESCO General Conference President Stanley Simataa for his part highlighted the major role intangible cultural heritage could play in implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda: “Indigenous and traditional knowledge and practices embedded in our cultures, are powerful tools to address the pressing challenges facing humanity today. These challenges include poverty and hunger in all their dimensions, climate change and natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, social marginalization and economic inequalities.”
In a video message to participants, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, described Namibia as “a great champion of the 2003 Convention” for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and thanked its government for hosting the meeting. “This is a strong signal for Africa, UNESCO’s global priority. This is a strong signal for intangible heritage,” she said.
During its session, which ends on 4 December, the Committee will review six nominations for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, as well as 34 nominations for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The 24 members of the Committee will also examine a range of 12 ethical principles to be considered in safeguarding intangible heritage. Their goal is to prevent disrespect and misappropriation—be it moral, legal or commercial—of intangible cultural heritage. They recognize the importance of ensuring the free and informed prior consent of local communities, respecting the rights of those concerned to full and equitable participation in any process, project or activity that may affect them, and acknowledging the crucial role of communities in maintaining and managing their culture and heritage.
The List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding features intangible heritage elements whose viability is at risk and whose safeguarding is regarded as a matter of urgency. It numbers 38 elements to date and enables States Parties to the Convention to mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure the transmission of these cultural practices with the participation of the communities concerned.
The following elements are nominated for inscription on the List in Need of Urgent Safeguarding this year:
- Colombia - Traditional Vallenato music of the Greater Magdalena region
- Egypt - Traditional hand puppetry
- Mongolia - Coaxing ritual for camels
- Portugal - Manufacture of cowbells
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia—Glasoechko, male two-part singing in Dolni Polog
- Uganda - Koogere oral tradition of the Basongora, Banyabindi and Batooro peoples
The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity numbers 314 elements to date. It aims to enhance the visibility of communities’ traditions and knowledge without recognizing standards of excellence or exclusivity.
This year’s nominations for the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity are:
- Afghanistan - Attan
- Algeria - Sbuâ, annual pilgrimage to the zawiya of Sidi El Hadj Belkacem in Gourara
- Andorra; Spain; France - Summer solstice fire festivals in the Pyrenees
- Argentina - Filete porteño in Buenos Aires, a traditional painting technique
- Armenia - Kochari, traditional group dance
- Austria - Classical horsemanship and the High School of the Spanish Riding School Vienna
- Azerbaijan - Copper craftsmanship of Lahij
- Bangladesh - Jatra traditional performing arts
- Bosnia and Herzegovina - Konjic woodcarving
- Bulgaria - Surova folk feast in Pernik region
- Bulgaria; The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Republic of Moldova; Romania - Cultural practices associated to the first of March
- Cambodia; Philippines; Republic of Korea; Viet Nam - Tugging rituals and games
- Colombia; Ecuador - Marimba music, traditional chants and dances from Colombia’s South Pacific region and Equador’s Esmeraldas Province
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - Tradition of kimchi-making
- Dominican Republic - Son
- Ethiopia - Fichee-Chambalaalla, New Year festival of the Sidama people
- Greece - Tinian marble craftsmanship
- Indonesia - Three genres of traditional dance in Bali
- Italy - Celebration of the Celestine Pardon
- Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan - Aitysh/Aitys, art of improvisation
- Kyrgyzstan - Kok-boru, traditional horse game
- Namibia - Oshituthi shomagongo, marula fruit festival
- Nigeria - Eyo masquerade festival
- Peru - Wititi dance of the Colca Valley
- Romania - Lad’s dances in Romania
- Saudi Arabia - Alardah Alnajdiyah, dance, drumming and poetry in Saudi Arabia
- Slovakia - Bagpipe culture
- Tajikistan - Art of Chakan embroidery in Kulob
- Turkmenistan - Epic art of Gorogly
- United Arab Emirates; Oman - Al-Razfa, a traditional performing art
- United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia; Oman; Qatar - Majlis, a cultural and social space
- United Arab Emirates; Saudi Arabia; Oman; Qatar - Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity
- Uzbekistan - Ropewalking
- Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) - Traditional knowledge and technologies relating to the growing and processing of the Curagua
10th session of the Intergovernmental Committee (30 November 2015 – 4 December 2015)