14.COM for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage



The fourteenth Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage(14.COM), was held from 9 to 14 December in Bogota. The committee members for this session were from Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Djibouti, Guatemala, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritius, Netherlands, Palestine, Philippines, Poland, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Togo and Zambia. The session was chaired by Ms. María Claudia Lopez Sorzano, Secretary of Culture, Recreation and Sports of Bogotá.

Director-General Ms. Audrey Azoulay and the president of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez gave formal addresses at the formal opening ceremony that took place on 9 December and was accompanied by and orchestra and traditional Colombian dances.

At 14.COM, five elements out of six nominations were inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The inscribed elements were from Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Philippines and Belarus. Thirty-five new elements out of forty-two nominations were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. For the first time, an up-stream dialogue mechanism was used by the evaluation body to examine the file, and many nominations seem to have benefited from this process. Two elements from Colombia and Venezuela were inscribed in the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. One request of capacity building for stakeholders involved in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage in Burkina Faso was also approved by the committee.

In addition, 14.COM also made a historic decision of removing the Aalst carnival of Belgium from the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which was inscribed in 2010. The committee cited that the anti-semantic nature of the carnival is against the founding value of UNESCO and the2003 Convention. The intergovernmental committee also endorsed new operational principles and modalities for safeguarding ICH in emergencies such as conflicts and disasters, as there were many requests made by States Party to UNESCO in case of emergencies.

During the meeting, the importance of NGO participation in implementing the Convention was also discussed. Apart from the committee meeting there were various side events, including a book lunching about traditional food, a UNESCO panel discussion on safeguarding indigenous heritage and languages through education programmes, and a seminar on ICH management in Bogota. Also different exhibitions from UNESCO, Category 2 Centers, artisans, and many more took place on the different floors of the Agora Convention Center.

Before the official start of the committee meeting, an ICH NGO capacity-building workshop was held on 7 December, and a symposium (ICH in Urban Context) on 8 December. Both of which were organized by the ICHNGO Forum.

As 14.COM concluded, a decision was made for the host country for next committee meeting, elections of vice-chairpersons, and rapporteur. Jamaica will host 15.COM in Kingston and be chaired by H.E. Ms. Olivia Grange. The committee also elected Mr. Askar Abdrakhmanov from Kazakhstan as rapporteur of the committee. In addition to that the committee also elected Vice-Chairpersons of the committee from Netherlands, Azerbaijan, China, Djibouti, and Kuwait.

Details of 14COM are available at https://ich.unesco.org/en/14com.