The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, and the Algerian Minister of Culture, Ms. Khalida Toumi, signed an agreement on 28 February for the creation of a Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Africa under the auspices of UNESCO, which will play a key role in strengthening the region’s capacities for safeguarding its living heritage.
‘This Centre is supporting our efforts to place culture at the heart of sustainable development,’ said Ms Bokova. ‘Without culture, and in particular without the intangible heritage in all its diversity, social inclusion is not possible, social justice is not possible, sustainable development is not possible,’ she added. Ms Toumi affirmed Algeria’s commitment to participate significantly in the safeguarding of African intangible heritage: ‘This Centre is dedicated to Africa because we want to pay tribute to our continent and its cultural heritage, rooted deeply in history. We want to pay tribute to all those communities that have been able to perpetuate this heritage and to turn it into cultural capital, ensuring its best chance for safeguarding.’
The Centre, which will be based in Algiers, will aim to encourage the adoption of political, legislative and administrative measures for the safeguarding of intangible heritage and to strengthen capacities in terms of identification, documentation, inventory and safeguarding by placing custodian communities at the heart of these processes. It will also be responsible for promoting the cooperation and networking of practitioners, experts, national authorities, centres of expertise, research institutions, museums and other agencies and institutions in order to support the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in the region.
This Centre will complement the work of six existing centres in Bulgaria, China, Japan, Peru, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea, exclusively dedicated to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, and a centre in Brazil dedicated to both tangible and intangible heritage.