Under the tutelage of Audrey Azoulay, director-general, the selection committee of Unesco, meeting from 26 November to 1 December in Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, to review 40 applications for inclusion on this prestigious list, strong to this day of 399 elements (songs, dances, culinary specialties and celebrations). Last year, he had so distinguished the skill of the pizzaiolo (pizza maker) in naples or the originality of the zaouli, music and dance communities gouro of Côte d’ivoire. “You see, like every year, the beautiful diversity of the intangible cultural heritage. Elements which are extended, with a lot of participants, elements of which are smaller, with small communities”, has welcomed Tuesday, Tim Curtis, secretary of the Committee of the intangible heritage of Unesco.

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unlike that of the world heritage site, this list is not established under the criteria of “excellence or exclusivity,” said Tim Curtis. It does not seek to gather the heritage of “the most beautiful”, but to represent the diversity of intangible cultural heritage, to highlight the know-how brought in by communities, a reminder to Unesco. In 2018, this registration symbolic, but it confers a visibility that is certain, is particularly coveted by Grasse, the cradle of the perfumery world in the south-east of France. This small town of the Côte d’azur has seen flourish perfumery since the Sixteenth century, around its tanneries which demanded of aromatic raw materials to prepare the skin and to scent the gloves.

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A label that Unesco would enable him to better protect his fields from tuberous or jasmines, threatened by the pressure on the land. “The approach we have undertaken for the past ten years is within reach,” hopes the senator and former mayor of Grasse, Jean-Pierre Leleux. The French bid is supported by other countries – India, China, Argentina, and Japan, including the production of perfume plants also depends on the safeguarding of the know-how. With this French speciality, the two-thirds of the records (29) have all their chances to integrate the list, having received a positive opinion from the organ in charge of examining the applications, most often followed by the intangible heritage Committee.

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other candidates, such as the jamaican reggae or the chamamé music and dance of Argentina – still have a few days to grind, their arguments and persuade them of the merits of their case. Eleven proposals from States in Asia and the Pacific, eight in Europe, five in Western Europe, the other from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In Port-Louis, the Committee, composed of representatives of 24 States parties to the Unesco Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of 2003, will also focus on the heritage at risk of extinction. It will consider seven requests for inscription on the urgent safeguarding list, including male rites of passage of the maasai community in Kenya, or the shadow theatre of syria.

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To this day, the list contains 52 items, including the sustainability is considered to be threatened. A registration allows the united States “to mobilize international cooperation and assistance needed to strengthen the transmission of these cultural practices in agreement with the communities concerned,” says Unesco. Also on the agenda, a request for international assistance submitted by Albania to conduct an inventory of its intangible heritage, “in order to save it, and transmit it to future generations”. The Committee, which meets annually, ensures the monitoring of the implementation of the 2003 convention, a legal instrument ratified by 178 States that have integrated the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their national laws.

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