The third Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage will take place at UNESCO on November 25. This international distinction rewards popular and traditional forms of heritage such as oral expressions, music, rituals, social practices, traditional craftsmanship or knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, will proclaim the list of new Masterpieces during a ceremony to be held at 11 am in room XI, in the presence of the members of the International Jury. A press conference will follow the ceremony.
For this third proclamation, the International Jury, composed of 18 members, met from November 21 to 24 to review 65 national and multinational candidatures submitted by 75 UNESCO Member States. Each candidate was reviewed by specialized NGOs such as the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (ICPHS), the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).
At the First Proclamation in 2001, 19 Masterpieces were distinguished. Among these were the Oruro Carnival of Bolivia, the cultural space of Sosso-Bala in Guinea, the Opera dei Pupi, Sicilian Puppet Theatre in Italy, the Kutiyattam Sanskrit Theatre in India and the Cultural Space of Jemaa el-Fna Square in Morocco. In 2003, a further 28 masterpieces were proclaimed including the Carnival of Binche in Belgium, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, the Al-Sirah al-Hilaliyya Epic from Egypt, the Indigenous Festivity dedicated to the Dead in Mexico, the Oral Traditions of the Aka Pygmies of Central Africa in the Central African Republic and Sand Drawings from Vanuatu.
This year’s proclamation is likely to be the last. In 2003, UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This Convention includes the creation of a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and a List of the Intangible Heritage in need of Urgent Safeguarding. Of the 30 needed, 26 States have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval, which means that the Convention will soon enter into force. To ensure continued safeguarding of the masterpieces proclaimed by UNESCO since 2001, the Convention provides for their inclusion on the Representative List of Masterpieces of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.