Focus on measures taken by States Parties to build and strengthen national capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (2017)

The Committee requested (Decision 11.COM 9.a) a cumulative focus on measures taken by States Parties concerning the integration of intangible cultural heritage and its safeguarding in cultural and other policies. This information has been produced in 2017 for its twelfth session (ITH/17/12.COM/8.b: English|French) and the content has been extracted on this page for broader consultation and visibility.

Click on concerned countries to read the full reports of submitted by States Parties.

A lack of human resources for implementing intangible cultural heritage safeguarding measures has been noted by some reporting States (Madagascar) while, in others, these may be generally strong on the basis of historically well-developed ethnological work (Hungary) and even a well-developed non-governmental sector (Flanders in Belgium). The lack of human resource capacities can even negatively impact essential safeguarding activities such as inventorying (Cote d’Ivoire) and the ability of implementing bodies to fulfil their functions effectively (Madagascar). Building capacities in the competent institutions and wider society is therefore a main priority area for some countries (Cambodia and Oman). Despite this, it is common for reporting States to have no specific capacity-building institution, with national training being undertaken by the implementing body (in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ethiopia and Cambodia), universities, museums (in Hungary and Côte d’lvoire) and/or the non-governmental sector. The target audience for training workshops is a broad one (as in Bulgaria and the Islamic Republic of Iran) comprising, inter alia, the staff of governmental institutions (at the national and regional levels), local authorities, museum personnel, scientific experts and academics, non-governmental organisations, community members, tribal chiefs and journalists etc. Some countries have established well-developed systems that not only reach government officials and cultural professionals but also members of non-governmental and civil society organizations and communities (as in Peru). It has been noted that there is a multiplier effect whereby trained trainers can act as local resource persons to train civil servants, inhabitants, communities, young people and other local actors in intangible cultural heritage management. Nowadays, online courses are increasingly being used for this purpose for extension training services and self-study (Spain).

Training in intangible cultural heritage management is not very well developed in many States Parties and tends to be conducted by academic institutions that have a broader scientific remit, teaching intangible cultural heritage safeguarding practices as an add-on to their existing courses (in particular anthropology and ethnography). Governmental implementing institutions also commonly provide in-house capacity-building training for their staff and (in a few cases) the staff of other governmental bodies as well as workshops for communities and other stakeholders, especially in inventory-making and documentation methodologies. One notable case of integrating training for safeguarding into another sector of governmental activity is the ‘Cultural Guards’ Training Programme for Park Rangers in Honduras. In Botswana, the National Museum trains communities, researchers and associations while the Human Resource Development Council advises on lifelong learning and the National Training Authority validates training courses related to intangible cultural heritage. In Japan, the Agency for Cultural Affairs trains local governmental administrators in the management of intangible cultural heritage and the Arts Council trains current and future performers of traditional performing arts. In Haiti, the National Bureau of Ethnology has held workshops to train cultural actors and, in Panama, training in intellectual property rights is provided to indigenous communities through the Industrial Property Directorate. The decentralization of cultural management (including of intangible cultural heritage) is achieved in Paraguay through such participatory mechanisms as Culture Tables, for which training is provided. Training is also offered online in some countries, as in a virtual workshop on Participative Methodologies for Photographic and Audio-visual Inventorying (Paraguay).

Some higher education institutions (universities, conservatories and fine arts institutions) provide teaching and/or training related to intangible cultural heritage. However, much of this formal education is geared towards the practice and performance of intangible cultural heritage elements (music, dance, plastic arts etc.). Despite being beneficial for the improved safeguarding and transmission of intangible cultural heritage and specific elements, this is only indirectly a form of capacity building. The other aspect of higher education, namely the teaching of research and fieldwork methodologies to future cultural heritage management professionals, is of more direct relevance to safeguarding. There are degree programmes in many reporting States Parties (the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Denmark) related to various aspects of intangible cultural heritage, in particular ethnology, anthropology, ethnomusicology, cultural history and language, which provide a useful foundation for developing the expertise necessary to undertake research and documentation projects on intangible cultural heritage. In addition, trained conservators may also work with elements of intangible cultural heritage. Specialized research centres and scientific institutes also hold training courses, workshops and seminars on intangible cultural heritage. Some Cultural Heritage Management courses now include intangible cultural heritage-related modules (in Turkey, Bulgaria, Gabon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mauritius and Senegal) and, in a few countries, dedicated Master degree courses (or similar) have now been established. Newly established master’s degree and PhD-level university courses in Haiti have trained thirty specialists for managing the intangible cultural heritage of Haiti, where a summer university has also been held on intangible cultural heritage while, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is one dedicated course (as part of an Archaeology master’s degree). In Tunisia, university students who have benefited from training in the management of intangible cultural heritage have acted as mediators between experts and the local community.

Research is a further aspect of higher education that can contribute towards capacity building and more research is also required into developing courses on intangible cultural heritage management and finding means to integrate in-service training into areas of government not traditionally involved in heritage management. It is important that research in the field of intangible cultural heritage goes beyond researching specific elements and their communities to addressing what ‘safeguarding’ involves and how heritage professionals (and other actors) can be trained to do this more effectively. It is common for intangible cultural heritage-related field research projects to be conducted by ethnologists or anthropologists, working with (and training) the local community to record and document their heritage elements (Croatia). They may also develop various programmes jointly with the bearers, their communities and non-governmental organizations. In Côte d’Ivoire, several non-governmental organizations and professional associations are now researching, collecting and documenting traditional and indigenous knowledge, local languages and musical arts.

It is notable that one of the aspects of capacity building with the most information provided in the reports relates to educational and training programmes within the communities and groups concerned. Such programmes are provided by a variety of actors, from governmental agencies to non-governmental organizations, cultural centres, cultural associations, libraries, museums, and communities and practitioners themselves. For example, the National Council for Women in Egypt commissioned a non-governmental organization (along with the National Archives) to help them to train women in the Art of Tally; cultural centres and museums in Lithuania organize training sessions where bearers transmit knowledge and skills to the younger generation; training in safeguarding is provided in communities in Viet Nam (for the heads of gong clubs) and in Pakistan artisans who are masters are trained by a non-governmental organization in marketing and distributing their products (textiles, woodwork, metal work etc.). In Brazil, Heritage Houses have locally-tailored community educational programmes and the Community Cultural Centres in Bulgaria also provide education and training in intangible cultural heritage. Museums also undertake intangible cultural heritage training (the ICH Applied Museum in Ankara, Turkey, and in Bulgaria) as do cultural and arts centres, such as the Thapong Visual Arts Centre (Botswana) and music conservatories and dance academies (Hungary, Viet Nam, Cambodia and India). Other actors offering different forms of training in communities include local community associations (in Slovenia), civil society organizations (in Portugal and the Philippines), amateur arts groups (in Uzbekistan), local government units (in the Philippines) and cultural promoters grouped into an association (in Nicaragua). In a number of countries, training programmes are specifically aimed at providing guidance to bearer communities in identifying, recording, collecting, utilizing and, in particular, inventorying local elements, as is the case in Hungary, the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Botswana and Panama. The provision of adequate spaces for such community-based training is often an issue, and local town councils, museums and cultural centres often step in to provide support (the Fandango Museum in Brazil, Community Cultural Centres in Bulgaria and the Lithuanian Folk Culture Centre).

Training in communities may also employ intangible cultural heritage as a tool for achieving other social and economic aims, as in Ethiopia where women potters have been trained to address social challenges they experience and respond to market needs through their traditional skills. Capacity building has been given in Tunisia to recruit new artisans and strengthen their know-how in certain domains (pottery, carpet-weaving and embroidery). The School-Workshop Programme: Tools for Peace for student cooks in Colombia includes combatting poverty as a social goal while, in Armenia, training workshops are seen as a driver for socio-economic and quality vocational training (in handicrafts) made accessible to all social groups and to alleviate poverty and inequality (especially for disabled people). Young people in Zimbabwe are educated in the production of medicinal herbs and environmentally-sustainable perma-culture methods as potential sources of income and employment while training by community leaders for young people on the Timbila and Nyau elements of Mozambique is aimed at reducing the school dropout rate. Education in communities includes teaching traditional birthing techniques to midwives in Austria, where apprenticeship training for the traditional transmission of crafts skills, which has seen a decline in recent years, is being revived as a means of reducing youth unemployment and providing economic opportunities.

Some activities related to education on natural spaces and places of memory can also feed into building capacities for managing intangible cultural heritage, as well as for sustainability in general, and can even be the subject of specific training, as in a workshop on agricultural and food heritage organized in Haiti. Awareness raising in Cote d’Ivoire focuses on the importance of natural spaces (sacred forests) and resources (the Nangnranhanli plant for making the transverse trumpets of Gbofe) to intangible cultural heritage. Heritage trails in Cyprus also contribute to public education about the link between intangible cultural heritage and the physical environment. Regional Natural Parks in Switzerland engage in educational and awareness-raising activities relating to intangible cultural heritage and the natural environment (courses on yodelling), participatory activities relating to the countryside and environmental knowledge (agriculture) and guided thematic visits (on customs, craftsmanship). In Lithuania, there are also various programmes in national parks aimed at revitalizing traditional crafts, tracing marks of intangible cultural heritage and encouraging rural communities to practise their musical, crafting and cooking traditions. In Ethiopia, the value of spaces associated with some elements, such as open spaces surrounded by indigenous trees and plants necessary for performing the Fiche ceremony, is promoted.

International cooperation is another important means both of providing and supporting capacity-building activities in States Parties, including by sharing experience and identifying good practices. The category 2 centres for intangible cultural heritage under the auspices of UNESCO represent regional hubs for capacity-building training. UNESCO Field Offices also organize capacity-building training workshops as part of UNESCO’s Global Capacity-building Programme. In a few countries, National Commissions for UNESCO have also been closely involved in organizing such training workshops. These training actions are primarily targeted at regional and local staff of the cultural heritage authority who can then act as resource persons for further local-level training. Funds-in-Trust and other funding secured through bilateral cooperation have supported much national capacity-building training. Furthermore, International Assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund has been granted to several States Parties for safeguarding activities such as inventory-making (Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda), which represents a form of capacity building in many cases, and also specifically for building national capacities (for example in Morocco, Seychelles, Guatemala, Mongolia, Ecuador, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba). Another international cooperation initiative, namely developing multinational nominations, has also helped to build capacities at the national level in States Parties, especially those that had no previously inscribed elements (for example Pakistan and Syrian Arab Republic).

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