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Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage through the Strengthening of National Capacities in Asia and the Pacific

Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage through the Strengthening of National Capacities in Asia and the Pacific

Download project report (2011-2017)
Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok, 82 p, 2017.


About the Project

UNESCO set up a global ICH capacity-building programme aimed at building up the knowledge and skills in both government institutions and civil society in beneficiary countries, so that they will have sustainable frameworks for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and implementing the 2003 Convention on a long-term basis. The project implemented an integrated strategy, including a series of training workshops and activities, tailored to respond to the identified needs of each beneficiary country. The project also provided other benefits, ranging from practical support to community-based inventorying to consultation on possible policy or legal reforms or technical assistance to the national government agency responsible for ICH safeguarding.

The global capacity-building strategy is a comprehensive, long-term engagement with Member States to create institutional and professional environments for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It addresses the following needs and priorities:

  1. Redesign of institutional infrastructures
  2. Revision of cultural and other policies and legislation
  3. Development of inventory methods
  4. Development of effective safeguarding measures
  5. Participation in international cooperation mechanisms

The UNESCO Bangkok Office coordinated the regional project in Asia and the Pacific in close collaboration with the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section and UNESCO Field Offices responsible for coordinating and liaising with the national implementing partners in organizing project activities in the beneficiary countries.

A network of regional experts participated in intensive training on how to use these four training curricula. This network of facilitators has started conducting capacity-building activities around the world, supported by a dedicated webtool.

Extra-budgetary resources have been mobilized to implement the global capacity-building programme. This generous financial support was provided by the donor governments of the Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the European Union, Flanders (Belgium), Hungary, Japan, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Spain and the United Arab Emirates under Funds-in-Trust Cooperation with UNESCO. 

From 2011 to 2017, there have been 19 Asia-Pacific countries benefiting from this programme. These are:

Bangladesh   Bhutan   Brunei Darussalam   Cambodia   Democratic People's Republic of Korea   Fiji   Kazakhstan   Kyrgyzstan

Lao People's Demoncratic Republic   Mongolia   Myanmar   Nepal   Papua New Guinea   Samoa   Sri Lanka   Tajikistan   

Timor-Leste   Uzbekistan

Thematic Workshops

To carry out UNESCO’s global capacity-building strategy on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, training materials and strategies have been developed on the different areas concerning the implementation of the 2003 Convention.

Two regional expert trainers were assigned to facilitate the capacity-building activities in each beneficiary country, customizing the training materials to the national context and the trainees’ academic backgrounds and the sectors they represented. Training workshops were structured to maximize interactivity and active learning through group sessions, role playing, practical exercises and field work.

Learn more about Global Capacity-Building Strategy


RAT: Ratifying ICH Convention

RAT: Ratifying ICH ConventionIntended for Member States which have not ratified the 2003 Convention, this workshop aims to clarify the Convention, detail the processes and mechanisms for successful ratification, provide guidance in solving problems in ratifying the Convention and explain the importance of legal or policy reform to facilitate ICH safeguarding. This workshop targets a policy-oriented audience.


IMP: Implementing ICH Convention at National Level

IMP: Implementing ICH Convention at National LevelThis training provides an overview of the objectives and key safeguarding concepts of the 2003 Convention, national obligations of States Parties and mechanisms for international cooperation. It enables participants to understand possible activities involved in implementing the Convention and offers a platform where participants are able to reflect collectively on experiences and challenges in safeguarding ICH as well as discuss sustainable development and ICH. This workshop is intended for concerned ministry and local officers, experts, NGOs and community members.


INV: Community-based Inventorying of ICH Elements

INV: Community-based Inventorying of ICH ElementsThis training is intended to equip participants with basic knowledge and skills to design and facilitate a community-based inventorying process tailored to their particular circumstances. It is aimed at ministry officials, local community members, community-based organizations (CBOs), researchers and NGOs playing an active role in designing and conducting inventories of intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

The emphasis is on interactivity and active learning. It includes lectures on various topics, group discussions, role-playing activities and hands-on exercises, designed to help acquire the participatory research techniques required for community-based inventorying and to reinforce capacity to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the communities concerned by an inventory. A two-day fieldwork practicum allows participants to gain first-hand experience with inventorying and to put into practice some of what they have learned during the workshop.


Practical ICH Inventorying in Pilot Communities

Practical ICH Inventorying in Pilot CommunitiesMotivated and available participants of the community-based ICH inventorying workshop are selected to conduct practical field surveys and inventorying in pilot communities. Fieldworkers are tasked with collecting information about local ICH by using the template developed during the community-based ICH inventorying workshop. During these activities, the fieldworkers are able to test newly acquired skills in documenting and inventorying ICH, while also noting challenges they encounter for future improvement of the methodology. Free, prior and informed consent of community members is required before the fieldworkers start interviewing the cultural bearers and community members. Data collected during the field survey are used in the next training workshop on preparing nomination files to the ICH Lists and requests for international assistance.


NOM: Elaborating Nomination Files to ICH Lists

NOM: Elaborating Nomination Files to ICH ListsThis workshop trains ministry and local officials, national experts and NGOs on how to prepare nomination files for the Urgent Safeguarding List and Representative List, proposals for the Register of Best Practices and requests for international assistance. The approach taken is that the best way to learn how to prepare nominations, proposals and requests is to understand how they will later be examined and evaluated. This is done primarily through practical and participatory sessions.

Following an overview of the processes for preparing nominations, proposals and requests, practical sessions aim to help participants understand what a complete nomination or request entails. Trainers lead participants through the technical assessment carried out by the secretariat of sample nominations and international assistance requests and then engage the participants in analyzing them for completeness and requesting additional information.

Participants then work on the examination of nominations, proposals and requests – this time with revised and improved versions of the nominations, proposals and requests that they had previously analyzed. Here they play the role of an examiner and write examination reports. Participants will finally convene as a deliberative body or jury to simulate the evaluation process and the decisions taken by the Subsidiary Body or Consultative Body charged with evaluating different kinds of files.


POL: Policy Advisory Services

POL: Policy Advisory ServicesThe regional expert trainers have gone beyond their role as trainers during capacity-building workshops. As experts on ICH, they have also provided advisory services to national authorities on needed revisions to existing national legislation or policies, improvement of the institutional infrastructure for safeguarding ICH, development of inventorying strategies, and in other relevant areas.


SAF: Developing Safeguarding Measures

SAF: Developing Safeguarding MeasuresThe workshop introduces participants to some recent documents of the Intergovernmental Committee and UNESCO that are relevant to the country's need to prepare safeguarding plans and discuss purposes in implementing the Convention at the national and international level.

It offers an occasion to review certain aspects of safeguarding measures in place in the country. It also raise issues concerning safeguarding at the international level or international assistance requests that could not be dealt with in some locally specific scenarios.

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