Decision of the Bureau: 13.COM 3.BUR 4.4

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Article 23 of the Convention as well as Chapter I.4 of the Operational Directives relating to the eligibility and criteria of International Assistance requests,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/18/13.COM 3.BUR/4 as well as International Assistance request no. 01443 submitted by Mongolia,
  3. Takes note that Mongolia has requested International Assistance for the project entitled Supporting natural and cultural sustainability through the revitalization and transmission of the traditional practices of worshipping the sacred sites in Mongolia:

Implemented by the Foundation for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage, the proposed thirty-month project aims to revive forgotten worshipping practices of sacred sites in rural areas in Mongolia, with reference to the element inscribed in 2017 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. These practices – performed at sacred sites that are located throughout the country, to invoke assistance from deities of nature – have been transmitted and developed by nomadic Mongolians since ancient times. However, for a period during the twentieth century this traditional system was ignored and even prohibited in Mongolia, and the number of sufficiently knowledgeable practitioners has dramatically decreased, with the traditional practices and their symbolic meanings having been lost in many communities. Though the communities, practitioners and government have made active efforts to revive the element, several extreme challenges remain, such as the effects of urbanization and mining operations. There is, therefore, an urgent need to raise awareness among the general public, especially youth, and one of the crucial objectives of the project is to bring young people back into contact with knowledge holders. To this end, the proposed project will focus on: carrying out research and field surveys to clarify the real state of the element and create a favorable environment for its practice; training special masters, leaders of worshipping communities and organizers of traditional worshipping practices; and creating and distributing educational materials, including manuals, reference books and videos.

  1. Further takes note that this assistance is to support a project implemented at the national level, in accordance with Article 20 (c) of the Convention, and that it takes the form of the provision of a grant, pursuant to Article 21 (g) of the Convention;
  2. Also takes note that Mongolia has requested assistance in the amount of US$98,500 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the implementation of this project;
  3. Decides that, from the information provided in file no. 01443, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
Criterion A.1: Prior to the submission of the request, the Foundation for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage conducted consultations with community members, practitioners and bearers of the worshipping practices to fully understand their aspirations and how to address them through the proposed project. It is foreseen that identified community members will be part of the organizing committee that will manage the project. Furthermore, it is expected that the communities will be actively involved in the implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation phases; for instance, some community members are expected to assist the research team during the field surveys to understand the current situation and viability of the traditional worshipping practices of sacred sites in the four identified regions.

Criterion A.2: With the budget, which is detailed and in line with the proposed activities, the amount requested seems to be appropriate for the implementation of the project in general. However, a more precise and adequate breakdown of expenses for some activities, such as ‘the two-day local workshop in each of the twenty one provinces’, could have been provided to better estimate their feasibility.

Criterion A.3: The proposed activities are described in detail and presented in a logical sequence, covering: (a) the preparation of the inventory of sacred sites through research expeditions; (b) the organization of a two-day national workshop aiming to increase the number and capacities of the practitioners, followed by; (c) a local workshop in each of the twenty-one identified provinces of Mongolia, as well as; (d) the organization of a nationwide contest to generate impetus around the practice, and, finally; (e) the production of a five-volume series of books related to the sacred sites and the worshipping practices that would serve as a tool for awareness raising and capacity-building.

Criterion A.4: The project is expected to strengthen the capacities of the identified practitioners who would be able to continue disseminating their knowledge to other community members, thus ensuring the continuation of the training and transmission of the practices related to the worshiping of sacred sites. The production and distribution of the five-volume series of books and the video documentation film related to the element and its practice are expected to raise awareness amongst communities, especially youth, thus ensuring the sustainability of the chain of transmission of this knowledge.

Criterion A.5: The State Party will contribute 9.3 per cent and the partner agencies another 24.6 per cent of the total amount of the project for which the International Assistance is requested, which amounts to 33.9 per cent of the total budget for the proposed project. The Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund will therefore cover 66.1 per cent of the overall budget.

Criterion A.6: The request seeks to increase the number of practitioners as well as raise awareness among the communities concerned to safeguard and transmit the traditional practices of worshipping the sacred sites. With the enhanced capacities of the implementing agency and its partner organizations, the preparation of inventories in the other regions of Mongolia is expected to follow. A rich source of information would also support the implementation of national safeguarding initiatives.

Criterion A.7: Mongolia has benefitted from International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund three times, for the following projects: ‘Improving the capacities of intangible cultural heritage related to NGOs in Mongolia’ (File no. 00910, 2015, US$24,900), carried out by Foundation for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage; ‘Safeguarding and revitalizing the Mongolian traditional epic’ (File no. 00549, 2013-2016, US$89,700), carried out by the National Center for Cultural Heritage (NCCH); and ‘The elaboration of the “Inventories of the Representative list and list in need of urgent safeguarding of Intangible Heritage in Mongolia”’ (File no. 00298, 2009-2011, US$24,000), carried out by Center of Cultural Heritage. The State has also benefitted from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for the following two preparatory assistance projects: ‘Mongolian Traditional Heroic Epic’ (File no. 00261, 2008-2009, US$6,000), carried out by the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO; and ‘Mongolian folk dance’ (File no. 00260, 2008-2009, US$6,500), carried out by the Mongolian Cultural Studies Association. The work stipulated in the contracts related to all these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s rules and regulations.

Paragraph 10(a): The project is national in scope and involves cooperation with the community members from all twenty-one provinces, national ministries, UNESCO National Commission and non-governmental organizations working in the field of intangible cultural heritage.

Paragraph 10(b): The project is expected to encourage additional contributions from different stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, and the Governor’s offices that would further enhance the outreach of the workshops conducted in the framework of the project. Furthermore, research organizations are expected to improve knowledge sharing among communities that would assist in safeguarding not only the practices of worshipping the sacred sites but also other associated intangible cultural heritage elements.

  1. Approves the International Assistance request from Mongolia for the project entitled Supporting natural and cultural sustainability through the revitalization and transmission of the traditional practices of worshipping the sacred sites in Mongolia and grants the amount of US$98,500 to the State Party to this end;
  2. Takes note that the proposed activities to be implemented in the framework of the project would support the requesting State in its efforts to safeguard the element ‘Mongolian traditional practices of worshipping the sacred sites’ inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and commends Mongolia for the measures included in the safeguarding plan for this element as prepared at the time of inscription;
  3. Requests that the Secretariat reach an agreement with the requesting State Party on the technical details of the assistance, paying particular attention to ensuring that the budget and the work plan of the activities to be covered by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund are detailed and specific enough to provide a sufficient justification of all the expenditures;
  4. Invites the State Party to use Form ICH-04 Report when reporting on the use of the assistance provided.