Lao PDR reflects on linkages between ICH and development

Lao PDR reflects on linkages between ICH and development

Since 2011, Lao PDR has participated in the regional capacity-building programme on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). With funding from the Government of Japan, and technical assistance from UNESCO, the Department of Heritage under Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism organized in 2016 a workshop on developing safeguarding plans for ICH as well as a field pilot inventory of 6 ICH elements in the province of Luang Prabang. To complement these initiatives as well as the previously organized workshops on the implementation of the Convention, community-based inventory and elaboration of nomination files, Lao PDR invited a mission to assess how various policies in the country may impact the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the country. Selected experts Dr Shubha Chaudhuri, from the Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology (India), and Dr Kriengkrai Watanasawad, from Thammasat University (Thailand) visited Vientiane, capital of the country from 3 to 9 June.

The inception meeting on 5 June provided a forum for cultural and non-cultural actors to exchange about the concept of ICH in their respective contexts. Although the terminology ICH remains widely unknown, many development initiatives targeting or integrating local knowledge have been implemented. The experts’ in-depth interviews with representatives from key ministries such as the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, the Natural Resources and Environment, Health, Home Affairs, Lao women’s Union, etc. explored several laws and decrees such as the Law on Copyrights and IPR under the Ministry of Science and Technology, to highlight existing instruments promoting an enabling environment for ICH safeguarding. The mission also explored the existing regional instrument for regional cooperation like ASEAN and its declaration. They also unearthed a number of entry points for inter-agency collaboration, which were further discussed during the consultation on the last day of the mission: knowledge on traditional medicines under both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment; or practices of ethnic minority under the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Lao Women’s Union and the National Lao Front as well as the National University of Laos.  

Upcoming experts’ recommendations will be shared with all concerned ministries to develop a concrete plan of action linking ICH and development interventions by cultural and non-cultural stakeholders.

More about activities to safeguard ICH in Lao PDR: ich.unesco.org/en/state/lao-people-s-democratic-republic-LA

Learn more about ICH programme in Asia and the Pacific, please visit bangkok.unesco.org/theme/intangible-cultural-heritage