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NGO Capacity Building related to the UNESCO 2003
Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH

Ever since the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage developed, ICH NGOs have made efforts for contributing to its implementation. The ICH NGO Forum¹, the international platform for accredited ICH NGOs ( – established in 2010 – has been taking forward its mission and international rollout of activities for communication, networking, exchange and cooperation for the numerous NGOs active on the 2003 Convention and safeguarding ICH in the field.
NGOs accredited by UNESCO may provide advisory services to the Intergovernmental Committee in the framework of the 2003 UNESCO Convention. This role though is foremost limited to advisory services for the Evaluation Body advising on nomination files thus far and involve only a small number of accredited NGO’s (6). But the dedication of NGOs for acting in an advisory capacity to the Committee is not confined to the Evaluation Body of course; it can be implicated in a broadened range of activities serving the goals of the Convention. Accredited NGOs play important roles at the national level, working with communities, states and other stakeholders to help implement the Convention and thereby assist in the safeguarding of ICH around the world.

NGOs themselves engage in developing practices contributing to the Convention’s work of safeguarding as well as coordinating such activities through the NGO Forum.
For the future, a way of further organizing and structuring NGO activities around the goals of Convention is desirable, considering the numerous NGOs being accredited to the Convention (total of 176 in 2016), the broad range of NGOs with their respective geographical distribution, different competences and working throughout the different ICH domains. Since its start up in 2010, the Forum has been taking initiatives already for communication, networking, exchange and cooperation on the NGO activities.
Resulting from a dialogue with the UNESCO Secretariat, from 2016 onwards the Forum through its activities as well fosters progressively regional network development among NGOs, with regards to more efficaciously
structuring the NGOs cooperation in the Forum around the Convention further around a regional approach.

The ICH NGO Forum was delighted to announce in this regard for the year 2017:
a) developing the organizational structure of ICH NGO Forum; 
b) working on a program of Capacity Building for accredited NGOs throughout all regions; c) launching and developing the regional NGO-networks.

1. Organizational structure of ICH NGO Forum: STEERING COMMITTEE & REGIONS

The ICH NGO Forum has set up a Steering Committee since IGC 10.COM to represent the Forum and coordinate, encourage, facilitate and support its functions. At 11.COM the mission, structure and procedures for the Steering Committee were formulated. First elections are held at the occasion of IGC 12.COM in 2017 taking place on Jeju Island – Republic of Korea (4-9 December 2017). The six members in the Steering Committee will be working as focal points for the different regions, bringing together all accredited NGOs in the Forum globally.

2. International Program for CAPACITY BUILDING of ICH NGOs – launch in 2017

A second important initiative is the organization of Capacity Building for accredited NGOs. With a view to help NGOs accredited under the Convention in contributing to he implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, through the sharing of information and experiences internationally, and through setting out a general programme for NGOs to engage in ongoing networking and skills sharing at a regional and national level among its members, the NGO Forum has begun a capacity-building program. The first Capacity Building workshop took place in the Republic of Korea from 1-3 December 2017; a three-day workshop just prior to the Intergovernmental Committee meeting of the Convention (12.COM).

Here the booklet of the workshop: english or french.

The idea of a Capacity Building strategy for accredited NGOs rooted in a dialogue between the ICH NGO Forum and the 2003 Convention Secretariat. From this the proposal for a capacity building project for accredited ICH NGOs took form, combining in its outlines several of the driving points of concern -on capacity building, the role of NGOs, brokerage, networking … The objective of this capacity building initiative targeted at accredited ICH NGOs, is to train within the coming years a series of accredited NGOs in every region, that can thus take forward a role on outreach and regional network building towards a larger audience of NGOs and civil society in their respective regions.

The workshop is an initiative of the ICH NGO Forum, with the partnership of the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation (CHF), supported by the government of the Republic of Korea, which has kindly borne the cost of hosting the December 2017 workshop. The UNESCO Secretariat has supported and assisted the organization of the workshop. Also there has been support of Indonesia for setting up a preliminary workshop and planning meeting in Paris in May 2017.

Four facilitators for the workshop, from different geographical backgrounds and with complementarity in fields of experience and expertise will be assisting the 3 day Workshop: Harriet Deacon as coordinating facilitator, in cooperation with Sang Mee Bak, Adriana Molano and Sidi Traoré. For the ICH NGO Forum, the Steering Committee² assists the workshop with Ananya Bhattacharya ( – India), Léonce Ki (Asama/ Burkina Faso), Diego Gradis (Traditions for Tomorrow), Antoine Gauthier (CQPV – Canada), Magdalena Tovornik (CIOFF), Joanne Orr (Museums Galleries Scotland – Scotland), Jorijn Neyrinck (Tapis Plein (now called: Workshop intangible heritage Flanders – Belgium) , and with contribution as well of NGO colleague Marit Stranden ( NTNU – Norway), coordinator for NGO Forum working group on Capacity Building in 2016-2017. Through a call for case studies, moreover, many experiences of NGO contributions all over the planet have been gathered and presented during the 3 day workshop in the different parts of the workshop. The language of the meeting being English and French, with Korean translations provided for some of the sessions.


Behind the Capacity Building is the idea of a two phase strategy for increasing involvement of accredited NGOs in the implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention at the national and (sub)regional levels through capacity building. The first phase starts with this international training ICH NGO participants from accredited NGOs, who may then -in a cascade- be provided to train other NGOs and civil society organizations in the different regions globally, structured in alignment with UNESCO’s organization alongside the different electoral groups, and as well as the Steering Committee of the Forum is being structured currently³. Thus, strong efforts are being delivered for launching and developing regional NGO-networks in the coming years. The aim is to have a cooperation of accredited NGOs from different regions engaging in taking forward the outreach in growing regional networks with – among others – accredited and progressively non-accredited NGOs and more largely towards civil society and relevant stakeholders, and interacting with different levels, local to regional. 

1 The ICH NGO Forum is the platform for communication, networking, exchange and cooperation for NGOs accredited by UNESCO to provide advisory services to the Intergovernmental Committee in the framework of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
2 The 2016-2017 ICH NGO FORUM Steering Committee is composed of Ananya Bhattacharya ( / India / Asia), Léonce Ki (Asama/ Burkina Faso/ Africa), Diego Gradis (Traditions for Tomorrow / international / Latin America), Antoine Gauthier (CQPV Conseil Québecois du Patrimoine Vivant/ Northern Americas), Magdalena Tovornik (CIOFF / international/ E-Europe), Joanne Orr (Museums Galleries Scotland / NW-Europe), Jorijn Neyrinck (Tapis Plein / NW-Europe).