United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General meets with President Abdullah Gül of the Republic of Turkey and opens the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage

From 3 to 6 November, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, visited Turkey to attend the third session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Istanbul, 4-8 November 2008).

Ambassador Ali Tinaz Tuygan, Permanent Delegate of Turkey to UNESCO, accompanied the Director-General throughout his visit.

Mr Matsuura opened on 4 November the third session of the Intergovernmental Committee together with Mr Ertuğrul Günay, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Committee, Mr Cherif Khaznadar, President of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention and Mr Olabiyi Babaloa Joseph Yaï, Chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board. Of particular note at the meeting was the establishment of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, with the integration of 90 cultural elements proclaimed Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2001, 2003 and 2005.

In his opening speech, Mr Matsuura underlined that the revitalization of the Organization’s work in the field of living cultural heritage and alerting the international community to the significance of safeguarding this heritage had been one of his priorities since 1999. “I am delighted that we begin our meeting with the highly symbolic number of 100 States Parties. Indeed, the rapid rate of accession since the Convention’s adoption has been both breathtaking and gratifying, allowing it to enter into force on 20 April 2006. As another 4 States have already deposited their instrument of ratification, this trend appears set to continue. The improving geographical spread and balance of States Parties is another source for celebration. This, more than sheer numbers, is vitally important in facilitating the international cooperation at the heart of the Convention”, he stated.

On this occasion, the Director-General, announced that UNESCO had received a total of 111 applications from 35 States for inscription on the Representative List to be examined by the Committee in autumn 2009. “While this attests to the growing worldwide interest in safeguarding living heritage, I would like to express my hope that more States in future will put forward elements for inscription in order to achieve a regionally more balanced Representative List”, he underlined.

In this context, Mr Matsuura expressed his hope that the List would give more visibility to the living intangible cultural heritage, contribute to raising awareness of its importance and instil a sense of pride and belonging to custodian communities. “This is key to ensuring the transmission of these irreplaceable expressions to future generations”, he concluded.

The same day, Mr Matsuura met with President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, whom he thanked for hosting this important session of the Intergovernmental Committee. During their discussions, Mr Matsuura emphasized the key role played of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as a means of enriching cultural diversity and human creativity. The Director-General also expressed his appreciation for Turkey’s active support to UNESCO and its programmes, particularly in the fields of culture and science. “I welcome your initiative to host the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul from 16 to 22 March 2009, during which the 3rd edition of the World Water Development Report will be launched, as well as the Second Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations from 2 to 3 April 2009, also in Istanbul. These are priority areas for dialogue and sustainable development that offer tremendous opportunities for increased regional and international cooperation”, emphasized Mr Matsuura.

At the end of his journey, Mr Matsuura visited the archaeological site of Troy, inscribed on the World heritage Site in 1998. On this occasion, he was received by the Governor and Mayor of the city of Çanakkale, Messrs Orhan Kirli and Mr Ülgür Gökhan, with whom he discussed the promotion of cultural tourism around the site and in the region.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 155-2008 -  Publication Date: 07-11-2008

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