Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 17.COM 7.B.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Cambodia has nominated Kun Lbokator, traditional martial arts in Cambodia (No. 01868) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Kun Lbokator is a martial art dating back to the first century. It aims to develop the mental and physical strength and discipline of its practitioners through self-defence techniques and a philosophy of non-violence. The training of Kun Lbokator is not only about physical techniques and skills, but also about mental disciplines on how to respect nature and behave with decorum in society. Masters, some of whom are believed to have healing and protective powers, lecture their apprentices about their roles and responsibilities in society so that, once they have mastered the necessary skills, they can protect vulnerable communities and the natural environment and stand up for justice and peace. Kun Lbokator is still actively performed as part of ritual offerings to local deities and in other festive events, along with elements such as dance, music and traditional medicine. An embodiment of the country's social, cultural and religious values, Kun Lbokator is widely practiced among Cambodians, regardless of their age, gender and educational backgrounds or status.

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

R.1:   Kun Lbokator is a martial art that inculcates and develops mental and physical strength and discipline among practitioners. It involves rituals and social practices. The element is performed as part of ritual offerings to local deities at gatherings and major festive events. It plays a key role in strengthening respect between practitioners and their society, as well as in protecting the environment. The training encourages individuals to develop self-confidence and pride. Practitioners of the element include masters, assistant teachers, apprentices and other advocates and individuals. Masters transmit their knowledge and skills of the element to new generations through training. Transmission also takes place in training schools, clubs and tournaments, as well as through formal education. In addition, the file explains that there is no part of Kun Lbokator that is not compatible with the international human rights instruments or with the requirement of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals or with sustainable development.

R.2:   The file outlines that the visibility and awareness of the element will be enhanced at the local, national and international levels and that inscription will contribute to greater recognition among younger generations. The inscription will contribute to strengthening dialogue among stakeholders of the element, including Kun Lbokator masters, clubs, institutions and people. However, the file does not elaborate clearly how the visibility and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in general would be enhanced by the inscription.

R.3:   The file explains that the viability and the development of the element is ensured by masters who train individuals by conducting various workshops, opening training schools and setting up an inter-provincial network to share experiences of the element. The Cambodia Kunbokator Federation, founded in 2004, also plays an important role in facilitating trainings, workshops and seminars at the national level and documenting Kun Lbokator techniques and skills. The safeguarding measures proposed in the file include teaching the element in schools, general media campaigns, training of trainers, and research and documentation. The State Party will make legal provisions to support performance and public awareness, as well as provide budgetary support and equipment. The proposed safeguarding measures are supported by the communities concerned, who will also be involved in their implementation.

R.4:   For the preparation of this nomination file, a research team appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and the Cambodia Kunbokator Federation has been working closely with Kun Lbokator masters and apprentices, communities, local authorities and researchers in the provinces concerned since 2017. A workshop was organized in February 2021 by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. A workshop brought together masters and apprentices from thirteen provinces to provide information about the element for the nomination process. The drafting of the nomination file went through many phases and was conducted in a consultative manner with Kun Lbokator practitioners throughout the process. The file included various letters of consent signed by the masters of the element, but did not provide evidence of consent from the wider communities concerned. The nomination form would have benefitted from a larger number of nomination consent letters to ensure the widest possible participation from the communities concerned.

R.5:   Kun Lbokator was included in the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Cambodia in 2017. The inventory is maintained by the Directorate-General of Techniques for Cultural Affairs in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. The inventory is updated every four years with the participation of Provincial Departments of Culture and Fine Arts, community representatives and arts and culture NGOs.

  1. Decides to inscribe Kun Lbokator, traditional martial arts in Cambodia on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to implement safety measures to ensure the well-being and safety of the practitioners during the practice of the element, and to ensure the widest possible community participation in the implementation of safeguarding measures;
  3. Reminds the State Party, in submitting future nominations, to ensure the widest possible participation of the communities in all stages of the preparation of the nomination;
  4. Commends the State Party for the submission of an improved nomination file following the State Party's decision to withdraw the file in 2020.