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The Project’s Philosophy & Implementation Strategy

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted by the General Conference in October 2003 and entered into force in 2006 after ratification by 33 Member States. To date, the Convention has been ratified by 165 Member States (as of January 2016). Despite the rapid rate of ratification, many States Parties to the Convention still need to appreciate better the concepts and mechanisms established under the Convention. They often lack the human capacities and financial resources to implement the Convention effectively.

In response, 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.

To prepare for project implementation, UNESCO developed training materials designed as tool kits to facilitate their adaptation to the specific needs and context of each country. Experts with adequate experience in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage were trained to use the tool kits and were later assigned to facilitate the capacity-building activities in the beneficiary countries.

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 (25 of them from Africa, and 40% of whom are women) 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.

Some US$8.5 million in 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. 

In the Asia-Pacific region, there are 15 beneficiary countries under the global capacity building programme. 9 countries (Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste) are supported by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust. Lao PDR is supported by the Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust. The Norwegian Funds-in-Trust is supporting Myanmar, as well as the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.