As a State Party to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Jamaica has aligned its long standing cultural heritage activities, particularly in the areas of research, documentation (including inventory making) and dissemination regarding the State Party’s rich and diverse ICH to the Articles and Operational Directives of the Convention. Against this background, the Maroon heritage of Moore Town was inscribed to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2008). In this regard the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank (ACIJ/JMB), a division of the Institute of Jamaica, and which has direct responsibility for research, documentation and inventories of the nation’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, was designated the National Focal Point for the implementation of the Convention. The State Party, in addition to the existing structures, programmes and measures established for the recognition and safeguarding of the nation’s cultural heritage has also sought to enhance and update these as necessary to be in concord with current best practices in the area of cultural heritage recognition, protection and preservation. Principal among these is the review and updating of the National Cultural Policy. An important aspect of this updating exercise is the explicit recognition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the resultant policy initiatives to ensure its safeguarding. This process is nearing completion and once finalised will serve to formally guide, legitimise and enhance existing best practice. Nevertheless, Jamaica has a robust operational system for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, evident in the work of the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica/Jamaica Memory Bank, operating in concert and constant consultation with the various relevant stakeholder groups and communities throughout the country. This process has been greatly assisted by the support of UNESCO through a number of initiatives under the ICH banner. The inscription of the Heritage of Moore Town resulted in a multi-stage project, undertaken by the ACIJ/JMB with funding through the Norway Funds-in-Trust to enhance existing efforts to safeguard the ICH of this community.
Following the completion of this project, the Moore Town community was further engaged in a two part series of capacity building workshops also undertaken in 2013 and 2013 by the ACIJ/JMB, UNESCO supported and funded by the Japan Funds-in-Trust, to further the aims of implementing the Convention. These interventions provided training, initially for the Moore Town Maroon community and later to a wider stakeholder grouping, in documenting and inventorying Intangible Cultural Heritage elements and encouraging wider understanding of the important rich and diverse nature of Jamaica’s socio-cultural ethos. The expected outcomes include not only greater community participation in the safeguarding of ICH elements existing, but to also enhance public awareness of the importance of ICH in Jamaica generally and its role in nation building.