Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 16.COM 8.c.4

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Kyrgyzstan has proposed Nomad games, rediscovering heritage, celebrating diversity (no. 01738) for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention:

Kyrgyz people’s cultural heritage is intrinsically linked to the nomadic lifestyle. However, during the Soviet era, which came with forced sedentation, many elements became endangered, including traditional games. After gaining independence in 1991, the local communities in Kyrgyzstan started working on revitalizing and celebrating their traditional culture. In this context, traditional game practitioners and knowledge bearers from different communities across the country held their first major meeting in 2007 to discuss current challenges for the traditional games and the safeguarding needs. The participants identified many challenges but agreed that some of them were very urgent: the first being the loss of knowledge about the traditional games and the second being the lack of interest among the younger generation to play the games. After long discussions and deliberations, the participants identified several safeguarding needs that shaped the “Nomad Games: Rediscovering Heritage programme”. The traditional game practitioners reached a consensus about the need to prioritize documentation and identification of traditional games in different parts of the country. These goals were prioritized because many people knowledgeable about traditional games were older and there was a real threat of losing their knowledge about traditional games unless it was documented.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the programme responds as follows to the criteria for selection as a good safeguarding practice in paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1:  Revitalization efforts began formally in 2007 and developed into its current format, while gaining traction and wide participation nationally and internationally. Among the safeguarding needs identified by the federations and practitioners are the need to: identify, document and record existing traditional games; raise general awareness and boost interest toward traditional games with a focus on children and youth; and include traditional games into formal education. The documentation efforts have been developed into the Nomad Games and recently into the World Nomad Games. Innovative components of this programme include: i) a community-driven documentation process, ii) extensive media coverage, iii) holistic approach to intangible cultural heritage, iv) conducting Nomad Games festivals on multiple scales, and v) building partnerships among various groups of traditional game practitioners, federations and governments.

P.2:  While the programme initially did not involve coordination at the regional, sub-regional or international levels as it was organized as a strictly national effort, it eventually evolved into an internationally coordinated initiative known as the World Nomad Games. The programme currently involves cross-border exchange, contact and networking among different traditional game federations in Central Asia and worldwide, contributing to the revitalization of knowledge associated with the traditional games and mutual dialogue between the countries. The most recent World Nomad Games involved participants from eighty-two countries, media from fifty-six countries and reporting in thirty languages.

P.3:  The file clearly shows that the programme is aligned with the principles and objectives of the Convention in several key ways. These include: the participation of communities (Article 15), education, awareness raising and capacity building (Article 14), inventories (Article 12), research (Article 13(c)) and safeguarding (Article 2). In this way, the programme is well-designed and coherent with the spirit of the Convention to enhance the visibility and respect for intangible cultural heritage worldwide.

P.4:  The file demonstrates that the programme has been effective in contributing to the viability of the traditional games. Indicators of effectiveness outlined in the file include an increase in the number of traditional game clubs, inclusion of the games into the curriculum at all levels, inscription of two games (elements) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, exponential media attention and broadcasts associated with the games as a whole, and the establishment of a strong link between traditional game practitioners and traditional crafts persons.

P.5:  The file provides evidence of the wide participation of concerned communities, groups and individuals, including federations, practitioners and academic institutions. Women also feature prominently in the programme as volunteers, practitioners and community researchers, showing a good level of gender equity. Free, prior and informed consent is established in the file through signed consent letters and video formats.

P.6:  The format of the Nomad Games is relevant to many countries in Central Asia and around the world, and particularly to other countries with nomadic cultures. The model of the Nomad Games has several components that can be considered a model of safeguarding activities. These include the involvement of the communities in the documentation process, the use of festivals for traditional games and competitions which bring practitioners and the younger generations together, and a coordinated communication strategy for awareness raising through formal and informal channels. The recruitment of youth volunteers to the programme encourages youth to learn about the diversity of intangible cultural heritage and the importance of safeguarding it.

P.7:  The file describes the ability of the federations, practitioners and countries to mobilize and coordinate, demonstrating their ability to participate in the dissemination of the programme as a good practice using available means, including technology-based approaches. The practitioner communities have been reaching out to the local communities and federations, while the State Party has expressed its willingness to share their experience and cooperate with other interested parties in the dissemination of the Nomad Games experience.

P.8:  The file proposes that the scale of the programme in its current format allows for independent evaluation. Notable statistics provided in the file include the documentation of two-hundred and twenty games, which have been included in a National Intangible Cultural Heritage List, fifty-five thousand practitioners in Kyrgyzstan, increased numbers of formal and informal clubs, and consolidation of several federations and networks spanning several countries. The Nomad Games has received commendation and recognition by various entities globally, including the United Nations General Assembly, International Olympic Committee and several heads of government.

P.9:  Kyrgyzstan is a developing country and many of its experiences in the Nomad Games could provide useful learning points for other countries. The community-driven approach and the use of volunteers to support the games reduces the funding and optimizes the resources needed to organize such games. The Nomad Games also connect various other forms of intangible cultural heritage, including traditional crafts, while encouraging the sales of traditional craft products and boosting the local economy.

  1. Decides to select Nomad games, rediscovering heritage, celebrating diversity as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
  2. Commends the State Party for a well-written file demonstrating strong community engagement and support for the programme and for the proactive participation of the federations and practitioners in the safeguarding of their collective intangible cultural heritage at such a large scale.