Colombia bets on intangible cultural heritage for peacebuilding

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Following sixty years of armed conflict, peacebuilding activities of the emergency International Assistance kicked off in the municipality of El Conejo, department of La Guajira, within the commitments of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The emergency International Assistance entitled ‘Intangible cultural heritage as a basis for resilience, reconciliation and construction of peace environments in Colombia’s post-agreements’, granted in June 2018 under the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, responds to the third point of the Peace Agreement, and to the specific request made by local communities from El Conejo. The project seeks to contribute to the reintegration of former combatants into civil life and the revitalization of the social fabric, while building on living heritage as a tool for dialogue and reconciliation in this territory affected by the armed conflict.

To this end, an innovative methodology was designed and articulated into three components: the strengthening of local capacities for the management of the intangible cultural heritage; a community-based inventory of intangible cultural heritage with the implementation of safeguarding measures; and a collective reconstruction of the historical memory of the territory.

This community-based methodology is intended to provide a space for reflection for ex-combatants and inhabitants from El Conejo on their living heritage, their collective memory and the cultural aspects of their territory. Through mutual recognition as members of the same community, sharing common cultural values, it is expected to achieve symbolic reparation and forgiveness amongst the communities.

The results of the project will contribute to understand how intangible cultural heritage can be mobilized as a means to achieve lasting peace, dialogue and social reconstruction in a post-conflict situation. UNESCO and Colombia will present this project at the Paris Peace Forum taking place from 11 to 13 November in Paris.

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