At the request of the Vietnamese and Lao governments, UNESCO organized meetings in the respective countries. The main purpose of the meetings was to assist the Vietnamese and Lao authorities in establishing a national plan for safeguarding and promoting the intangible heritage of ethnic minorities. The population of these ethnic groups, of which there are fifty-four in Viet Nam and forty-seven in Lao PDR, is significant. In Lao PDR, for example, ethnic minorities account for almost half of the entire population, while in Viet Nam they represent approximately 10 % of the total population.
Following decades of war, at the beginning of the 1990s Viet Nam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic re-opened to the world. An Assessment of the status of intangible cultural heritage of the ethnic minority groups is now timely and should play a significant role in the development of national cultural plans. This can be achieved by drawing on the knowledge of community members, practitioners, the experience of both international and national experts, and by developing and proposing joint projects to be carried out by national and international scientific and cultural institutions.
Fifty-eight participants (officials, experts, representatives of research institutions and private foundations and observers) from thirteen countries, together with their Vietnamese counterparts, attended the meeting in Viet Nam. Forty participants from nine countries and twenty Lao participants attended the meeting in Lao PDR. In addition to specialists on ethnic minorities, participants active in international or regional co-operation for safeguarding and promoting the intangible cultural heritage of minority groups in their own or other countries or communities also attended.
Funded jointly by the Japan Funds-in-Trust ($39,550), and the French Government ($8,000)