Intangible Cultural Heritage: UNESCO inscribes 47 elements
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting in Rabat from November 28 to December 3, inscribed 47 elements submitted by 60 countries on the Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.
UNESCO, as the United Nations Organisation in charge of culture, ensures the safeguarding and transmission of intangible cultural heritage, i.e. traditional knowledge, arts and skills.
In 2003, it created a dedicated instrument: the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, ratified by 180 States, which has already allowed for the inscription of more than 600 elements throughout the world.
The 17th session of the intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of this heritage, chaired by the Kingdom of Morocco, led to the inscription by States sitting on the Committee of 47 elements including: four on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, 39 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and four on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.
“Congratulation to the States that have put forward these proposals, the members of the Committee for the quality of their debates, Morocco for hosting them and the 180 States that bring this UNESCO Convention to life. This living heritage plays an essential role in bringing people together and making peace grow in the minds of men,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.
One third of the elements inscribed this year relate to nature and the important challenge of safeguarding biodiversity. The international community is thus demonstrating its determination to make environmental protection a priority in all circumstances.
One third of the new inscriptions concern practices related to environmental protection. They often concern ancestral agricultural techniques that are mindful of the sustainable use of resources, as well as rituals and festive events that celebrate nature. These elements are a reminder that ancestral knowledge can be crucial in meeting the new challenges of our age, such as climate change.
The Committee also decided to grant $305,000 in financial assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund to a safeguarding project submitted by Malawi.
In a unanimous decision, the Committee withdrew the Ducasse d’Ath from the Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France, an element inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.
The members of the Committee took this decision due to the presence in the Ducasse d’Ath procession of a chained black character called “le Sauvage,” a racist and discriminatory representation that stands in contradiction to the founding principles of UNESCO, and to the requirement of mutual respect expressed in Article 2 of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention.
The next session of the Committee, in 2023, will be chaired by Botswana.