Held from 3 to 7 September, the session of the Intergovernmental Committee was chaired by Ambassador Seiichi Kondo, Permanent Delegate of Japan to UNESCO. It also decided that States Parties to the Convention will be invited to submit nominations for inscription on the two lists by September 2008.
As he opened the Committee meeting, the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, praised Japan’s longstanding efforts to preserve its intangible heritage, and said it was “fortunate that the second meeting of the Committee, which is of great importance for the future application of the Convention, should be held in this country.”
The Director-General also spoke of the urgent concern for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage - “a living heritage whose fragility is a cause of concern, but whose wealth makes us proud” - in the age of globalization.
The calendar for inscription on the lists was determined as part of the operational directives the Committee adopted for the inscription of intangible cultural heritage on both lists, whose creation is stipulated by the Convention.
The Committee also decided to launch an open, worldwide competition for an Intangible Heritage logo to be used alongside UNESCO’s logo for all of the Organization’s activities concerning the safeguarding and promotion of intangible heritage. More information about the competition, including the brief for designers, will be posted on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage website shortly.
The Committee stressed the importance of community participation in implementing the Convention which aims to safeguard cultural practices, such as oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of intangible cultural heritage; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices relating to nature and the universe; and know-how linked to traditional crafts.
The decisions taken by the Intergovernmental Committee will be submitted to the General Assembly of the states that have ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Eighty states have ratified the convention to date. They are due to meet in June 2008.
During the meeting, the Committee decided to incorporate the 90 masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity into the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as foreseen by the Convention.
Proclaimed by UNESCO between 2001 and 2005, before the Convention entered into force, the Masterpieces include a wide range of cultural expressions and practices. They range from Albanian polyphonic folksongs to a Zimbabwean dance, through Ugandan bark cloth making.
More information about UNESCO and intangible heritage - 2003 Convention website