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Cambodia NOC seeks UNESCO recognition for Labokator

19 Apr 2017
Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 19, 2017: The NOC of Cambodia is renewing its bid for UNESCO recognition of the Khmer martial art known as Labokator (to fight like a lion) under the Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a status three other local traditions have enjoyed since 2008. Cambodia placed its application before UNESCO last week, addressing issues raised in a second unsuccessful bid last year. The Kingdom's first attempt was in 2012.

The country has provided historical evidence to prove the existence of the centuries-old practice in Khmer society along with the Royal Government's commitment to promote and preserve the art, which is also known as Bokator. Among the documents presented were a short video and a bunch of photographs depicting the nuances of the unique fighting style and letters of support from several well-regarded social and cultural organisations.

Officials of the Ministry of Culture and an expert from UNESCO in Cambodia scrutinised the documents before they were submitted, according to NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun. After careful examination of the documents by field experts, UESCO is likely to convey its preliminary ruling by this July or September with the final verdict expected in December 2018.

The NOCC included Labokator as one of the 22 disciplines in the first ever National Games last year with the logical next big step being its entry to the SEA Games as a medal sport when Cambodia hosts the regional mega event in 2023.

In the past nine years UNESCO has recognised three of Cambodia's most admired traditions: the Royal Ballet, Sbek Thom (Shadow Puppetry) and Teanh Prot (Tugging rituals during agricultural harvests) introduced to the Khmer civilisations by Indians.
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