Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 14.COM 10.B.25

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Montenegro has nominated Boka Navy, traditional maritime organization (No. 01507) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Boka Navy, a traditional maritime organization, encompasses a series of activities, practices and rituals associated with bringing the remains of St. Tryphon to Kotor, dating back to 809, in which seafarers played a significant role. The Boka Navy is the backbone of the annual festivities of the St. Tryphon days, and participates in the celebrations of the days of Kotor and Tivat municipalities and Herceg Novi. On these days, together with citizens, traditional festivities are practised on the streets and squares of the different locations. The medieval circle dance ‘Kolo’ is a central event during these festivities, with the accompaniment of the city music orchestras. Kolo has twelve figures featuring spiritual and naval symbols. Membership of Boka Navy is voluntary and every year, at the celebratory session of the Admiralty, Boka Navy selects a boy aged seven to twelve to act as the Young Admiral, the youngest member of the detachment: this represents a significant symbol of renewal and durability of the element. The traditional uniform with trophy weapons is also an integral aspect of the element.

2. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criterion for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.5:   Boka Navy was included in the Register of Cultural Properties of Montenegro (Book of Intangible Cultural Properties of the Register) in 2013. The Administration for the Protection of Cultural Properties is the body responsible for maintaining the inventory, including data and documentation on existing and new elements of intangible cultural property. The element was identified through the project to inventory the intangible cultural heritage of Montenegro in 2012, organized by the Administration for the Protection of Cultural Properties and National Museum of Montenegro.

3. Further considers that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.1:   Despite the undeniable importance of Boka Navy, the file does not provide a clear description of the element. Many activities, practices and rituals are mentioned, but without any information about their nature, social functions and cultural meanings. Moreover, according to the nomination file, Boka Navy is an organization. This creates confusion about the nature of the element itself, since it is unclear how an organization can become an element of intangible cultural heritage. Finally, the file mentions the actors of the modes of transmission without describing the modes themselves. It also fails to demonstrate the links of the element with the community.

R.2:   The file does not demonstrate how the inscription of Boka Navy would contribute to ensuring the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. It focuses on the visibility and awareness of the element itself, pointing out the values of Boka Navy in connection with identity at the local level. It also describes it as a good example for other communities in Montenegro in relation to the promotion of cultural values at the national level. Furthermore, there is no evidence of how the element represents a good example of the coming together of different religions, peoples and cultures, which is a general statement provided in the file without substantiation.

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures are connected with past and current activities. However, the distinction between them is not entirely clear, making it impossible to ascertain which specific activities will be undertaken to safeguard the element in the future. Furthermore, due to the confusion about the nature of the element, it is not possible to identify who the stakeholders of the measures will be or how the communities will participate in these measures. Finally, there are several other issues relating to the safeguarding measures: a lack of safeguarding measures directed at the possible threats mentioned as a result of tourism; a lack of explanation about performances and ceremonial activities as mechanisms of protection and an emphasis on the ‘preservation’ of the tradition and its values.

R.4:   The file does not provide any information about the mechanisms and methodology of the work with the communities involved with Boka Navy. It mentions that the members of the community were informed about important decisions, meetings, plans and the text of the nomination file but this does not mean that they actively participated in its preparation. Furthermore, due to the unclear nature of the description of the element, it is not possible to identify who the bearers of the element are, generating a confusion between the members of the community and the members of the organization.

  1. Decides to refer the nomination of Boka Navy, traditional maritime organization to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle;
  2. Encourages the State Party to make use of the capacity-building tools provided by the Secretariat to improve its use of the different mechanisms of the Convention.