Decision of the Bureau: 8.COM 3.BUR 4

The Bureau,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives, concerning the approval of international assistance requests,
  2. Further recalling Decision 5.COM 10.2, concerning the definition of ‘emergency’ for the purposes of international assistance,
  3. Having examined Document ITH/13/8.COM 3.BUR/4 as well as the international assistance request 01026,
  4. Takes note that Mali has requested international assistance in the amount of US$307,307 for ‘Inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Mali with a view to its urgent safeguarding’:

Following the recent conflict in Mali and the occupation of northern and east-central regions of the country by armed groups and extremists, Malian cultural heritage has suffered tremendous damage. Rituals, festivals, traditional music, craftsmanship and other expressions were curtailed by the occupiers, and people lived in fear of being stigmatized or targeted for retribution for practising their heritage. The damage to the intangible heritage in the regions of Tombouctou, Gao, Kidal and Mopti and the resulting climate of fear and uncertainty has had a contagious effect, profoundly affecting the feelings of identity of local communities across the country. It is urgent to ensure the safeguarding of the intangible heritage that plays an important role in creating harmony within and between communities, permitting reconciliation and laying a foundation for post-conflict recovery. The project proposes to inventory intangible cultural heritage in the territory of Mali, with priority given to the formerly-occupied regions and with particular attention to assessing its viability. The project consists of activities to establish a strategic plan for community-based inventorying, to build capacities of stakeholders and to raise awareness of the importance of this heritage, all with a view to identifying priorities for urgent safeguarding measures that might follow.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in file 01026, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in Paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
The request is built upon the past and on-going efforts of the State Party and Malian communities to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage as a pillar of harmony in a plural society. The file clearly demonstrates that this heritage has been seriously damaged by the recent armed conflict and that the situation is an emergency as defined in Decision 5.COM 10.2.

The communities of practitioners will participate fully in the project (criterion A.1). This will be reinforced by their representation at all levels of the implementation structures, including the project coordination team that will oversee the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities. The project outcomes will be accessible to the communities through the distribution of inventory data and brochures, and the database will support their utilization for safeguarding.

The project design defines clear objectives and results and appears to be feasible (criterion A.3). The two-phase activities focus on the most affected regions in phase 1 and cover the other regions in phase 2, with step-by-step activities of elaborating a national strategic plan, building capacities of stakeholders, raising awareness, inventorying, evaluating and reporting, together with a month-by-month timetable. The amount requested is appropriate (criterion A.2), corresponding closely to the planned activities with indications of the division of tasks and responsibilities, the available human resources, and the coordination with partners and decentralized structures. The budget clearly distinguishes the amount requested from the Fund and the contribution made by the State (US$85,000, essentially through its provision of in-kind human and material resources) (criterion A.5). The State Party has previously received financial assistance for several projects, and duly completed the work stipulated by each contract in accordance with UNESCO’s regulations (criterion A.7).

Furthermore, the file demonstrates the sustainability and multiplier effects of the project through such components as the training of stakeholders and outreach activities including national and local campaigns using mass and traditional media. The project aims to raise awareness of the key role of intangible cultural heritage in promoting lasting harmony among communities affected by the crisis (criterion A.4). Through participation in the inventory activities and outreach campaigns, communities will be empowered to safeguard their intangible heritage. The project emphasizes building capacities of stakeholders through tailor-made training workshops and the practical work of inventory and database creation and management (criterion A.6). Finally, given the project’s integration within the ‘Action plan for the rehabilitation of cultural heritage and the safeguarding of ancient manuscripts in Mali’ it clearly involves cooperation at the international level (criterion 10(a)).

The request would have benefitted from further information concerning the participation of communities in the preparation of the request, such as how they participated in the dialogues facilitated by the State and the civil society and expressed their concerns about the situation of their intangible heritage as well as their wishes to revitalize it (criterion A.1).

  1. Approves, as authorized body, the international assistance request from Mali for ‘Inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Mali with a view to its urgent safeguarding’ for an amount of US$307,307;
  2. Commends the initiative of the State Party to submit an emergency request and takes note with appreciation of its efforts to mitigate the damage done during the recent conflict;
  3. Encourages the State Party to implement the project in close collaboration with UNESCO and MINUSMA and with the widest possible participation of the communities concerned;
  4. Requests the Secretariat to reach agreement with the requesting State Party on the technical details of the assistance.