11.COM 10.B.11

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Ethiopia has nominated Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio‑political system of the Oromo (No. 01164) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Gada is a traditional system of governance used by the Oromo people in Ethiopia, which functions in conjunction with the state system. The system regulates political, economic, social and religious activities of the community, dealing with issues such as conflict resolution, reparation and protecting women’s rights. It serves as a mechanism for enforcing moral conduct, building social cohesion, and expressing forms of community culture. Gada is organized into five classes with one of these functioning as the ruling class consisting of a chairperson, officials and an assembly. Each class progresses through a series of grades before it can function in authority with the leadership changing on a rotational basis every eight years. Class membership is open to men, whose fathers are already members, while women are consulted for decision-making on protecting women’s rights. The classes are taught by oral historians covering history, laws, rituals, time reckoning, cosmology, myths, rules of conduct, and the function of the Gada system. Meetings and ceremonies take place under a sycamore tree (considered the Gada symbol) while major clans have established Gada centres and ceremonial spaces according to territory. Knowledge about the Gada system is transmitted to children in the home and at school.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The submitting State provides a description of the element, its bearers, practitioners and formal and non-formal transmission mechanisms. The file indicates that the element reinforces the sense of continuity and cultural and religious identity of the communities concerned, while performing social functions in respect to distribution of authority, education and the management of society, and enhancing inter-linkages between generations and communities. The submitting State also affirms that the element is compatible with human rights and the principle of mutual respect, with spaces for both men and women to assert their rights;

R.2:   The nomination file explains how inscription would increase the visibility of the element, raise awareness, inspire young people to participate, and safeguard and transmit knowledge and skills associated with the element to future generations. The file adequately explains how inscription would promote respect for diversity and creativity, since these functions occupy the core of the Gada system. The file also states that inscription of the element would contribute to the variety and visibility of many indigenous governance institutions, at local, national and international levels;

R.3:   The safeguarding measures aim at ensuring the sustainability and transmission of the element through oral and written methods. The submitting State has also actively safeguarded the Gada through those measures indicated in the nomination file including the introduction of the element into its education system as well as the establishment of a research centre. The file presents a coherent safeguarding plan to ensure the viability of the element with the active participation of its bearers and practitioners;

R.4:   The core agent in the nomination process was the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, who collaborated with the Oromiya Cultural Bureau. They closely worked with community members, women’s groups, and youth groups. Abundant documentation to this effect is annexed to the file. There is no customary restriction governing access to the element;

R.5:   The element was inscribed in 2014 on the National Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ethiopia organized by the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The file indicates that the inventory process was carried out with the full participation of communities concerned, regional culture and tourism offices and relevant non-governmental organizations. The inventory will be regularly updated every five years.

  1. Inscribes Gada system, an indigenous democratic socio‑political system of the Oromo on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the submitting State to pay particular attention to ensuring that safeguarding measures respond adequately to the social dynamics and cultural fabrics on the ground.

Top