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ICH NGO Forum Speech for the 10.COM IGC

By November 30, 2015No Comments

Ki Léonce and Jorijn Neyrinck from the ICH NGO FORUM Steering Committee

During the opening Session of 10.COM on Monday 30th of November in Windhoek (Namibia), the ICH NGO Forum had the opportunity to speak to the Intergovernmental Committee Meeting and bring a report on its activities as part of the proceedings.
The Chair expressed large appreciation for the NGOs activities in the framework of the Convention offering input of civil society.

(For the french version of the speech see below)

ICH NGO Forum Speech for the 10.COM IGC
UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural heritage

Dear Mme Chair,
Thank you for offering the floor to the ICH NGO Forum. The Forum would like to express gratitude to the members of the IGC for the opportunity to make a speech as part of the proceedings.

We are delighted to bring a report on the annual SYMPOSIUM of the Forum, which took place yesterday in this room.

As illustrated by its title Towards a code of Ethics for ICH NGO’s?, the Forum intends to make a contribution to the international reflection on the 2003 Convention in its relation to ethical questions on different levels. A call for presentations was launched from which 4 abstracts were selected. A round table debate followed the presentations.

Key insights of the Symposium into this very complex area were that dialogue and communication is a crucial approach to the international field. Challenges tend to be dealt with on a case by case basis, with awareness of the communities, groups and individuals as primary actors in ICH, and the importance of contextualisation and culturally diverse ethics. Proposals were made for the NGO Forum to focus on the question of governance and on principles of equity. This will be taken forward in the coming year.

The annual ICH NGO Forum and Symposium have over the years developed a tradition to be part of the Intergovernmental Committee meetings, as is illustrated by the numerous participation yesterday: over 70 registrations of NGOs, communities, researchers, state parties and members of the national UNESCO Commissions from over 30 countries participated. We particularly welcome the participation of States representatives.
Unfortunately this year due to high travel expenses and some visa difficulties fewer NGO representatives were able to make it to Windhoek.
The Forum also wishes to thank the Host Country Namibia for offering the chance to get in touch with the ICH activity in this region; as well as for the generous hosting of the ICH NGO Forum Symposium, coffee and lunch yesterday. The Forum also wants to express in this setting its strong appreciation for the work of many colleagues NGOs in the African region, highlighting the crucial contribution of NGOs to safeguarding processes of ICH with communities, groups and individuals.

During this Session the cooperation with accredited NGOs will be reviewed. Decisions will be made on maintaining or not relations with the 97 non-governmental organizations accredited in 2010. This review is of course followed closely by the Forum because we represent the accredited ICH NGOs. Your decision will be of importance in considering future development of ICH NGOs contributions, individually and collectively to the work of the Governing bodies of the Convention.

2015 has been an active year for the ICH NGO Forum with some significant events and progresses:

The ICH NGO Forum held its first International Conference from June 6-13 in Santa Susanna Catalonia Spain. It was hosted by the Ens De L’ Assocacionisme Cultural to how we once again express our gratitude. The Conference allowed an in depth analysis of the future direction of the Forum, and of course the possible changes which could be made relating to the operational directives of the Convention that directly touch upon the NGOs activities (the introduction of the Evaluation Body in 2014 and the review of the accreditation of the NGO’s).

The outcome of the Conference in Catalonia shows a significant step forward in the international collaboration of ICH NGOs related to the Convention:

1) the role and function of the Forum is made more precise with shared a vision, mission and values as well as setting out nine clear functions.
2) the organization of the Forum is strengthened with the creation of a Steering Committee.
3) the participants analyzed how the Forum could potentially improve the NGO’s participation in the Evaluation Body, a proposal that will be taken forward by the Steering Committee, bringing greater visibility and information sharing of the expertise which exists in the ICH NGOs.

These proposals were unanimously adopted at our yesterday Forum.

Sustainable development and safeguarding ICH was at the topic of another NGO led event ‘4 Everyone’ (by Museums and Galleries Scotland) earlier this month. It explored the three related strands of sustainable development, identities and human rights. The ethical challenges around these themes began to emerge through the day and this work helped to provide some of the context for yesterdays ICH NGO Forum Symposium on Ethics.

Finally, at its meeting yesterday, following some of the most important debates that took place at the 38th session of the General Conference, the Forum expressed its deepest concern for the current and rampant destruction of part of the World cultural heritage and therefore of the rich intangible heritage that is so often rooted therein. Be assured that Unite4Heritage campaign can also count on the cooperation of the ICH NGOs, meanwhile never losing attention also for the slow and often unnoticed processes and contexts that put pressure and threats on living heritage all over the world.

Once again, the Forum will be meeting throughout this week, aiming to reinforce activities in the different topics at stake and under scrutiny currently in the Convention’s development. The Forum continues to exploring ways of sharing safeguarding experiences through its online journal of #Heritage Alive. Next to the publication of new articles, also a Heritage Alive Symposium is held this week (1st of December at 5PM) offering an occasion for exchange and further building safeguarding methodologies and experiences from the field.

All activities of the forum are accessible through our website, the newsletter and the facebook page.

Finally, we wish to express our deep gratitude to Indonesia, a first experience of a State Party bringing financial support to the Forum and facilitating its meetings during your session. The ICH NGO Forum hopes that other States Parties will follow Indonesia’s initiative. Your support to our Forum will foster the NGO cooperation and improve, we hope, the implementation of the Forum.

As you see, it seems that the ICH NGO Forum is becoming a useful and fully participative component of the implementation of the Convention. We would like our newly appointed Steering Committee to facilitate your dialogue with the NGO community and foster our cooperation with you. It intends to be a collective voice that can interact and respond to shared challenges of safeguarding ICH in an ever changing global environment.


La question du développement durable et de la sauvegarde du patrimoine culturel immatériel a plus tôt en début du mois, été à l’ordre du jour de « 4 Everyone », un autre symposium des ONG organisée par l’ONG écosse MGS. Cette rencontre s’est en fait appesantie sur le triptyque développement durable, identité et droit de l’homme. Des questions d’éthiques autour de ces concepts ont émergé et les conclusions de cette rencontre ont guidé le forum dans l’abord de la question d’éthique hier lors de notre symposium.

Le symposium d’hier s’est également inscrit dans la lignée de l’important débat qui a été engagé lors de la 38e session de la conférence générale.  Le forum exprime sa consternation face à la destruction actuelle et effrénée de pans du patrimoine culturel matériel de l’humanité, avec bien entendu celle du patrimoine culturel immatériel qui est lui souvent enraciné là-dedans. Soyez rassurés que la campagne « Unite4Heritage » a le soutien des ONG qui ne perdent pas non plus de vue les autres facteurs qui affectent et menacent insidieusement le patrimoine vivant partout dans le monde.

Comme à son habitude, le forum des ONG organisera des rencontres de travail axés sur des thématiques spécifiques à la mise en œuvre de la convention durant toute la semaine. Le forum continue d’explorer des pistes pour partager des expériences de sauvegarde à travers son journal en ligne. C’est ainsi qu’en plus de la publication en ligne de nouveaux articles, une table ronde sur le patrimoine vivant sera tenu ce 1er décembre 2015, créant ainsi un cadre d’échanges d’expériences et d’approches de sauvegarde du patrimoine culturel. Toutes ces activités du forum sont accessibles via notre site web, notre newsletter et notre page facebook

Comme vous le constatiez, le Forum des ONG se meut en une indispensable et efficiente composante pour la mise en œuvre de la convention. Nous souhaiterions que notre nouveau steering committee puisse devenir l’interface entre vous et les ONG en vue de faciliter le dialogue entre vous et les ONG. Pour rappel, le steering committee se veut la voix unifiée qui interagit et partage les expériences et défis de sauvegarde du patrimoine dans un monde en pleine mutation.

Pour finir, nous souhaiterions exprimer notre profonde gratitude à l’Indonésie, premier Etat partie à soutenir financièrement le forum et faciliter notre meeting pendant votre session. Le forum des ONG espère et souhaite que d’autres Etats parties suivront les pas de l’Indonésie. Vos soutiens renforceront à n’en pas douter, la coopération entre les ONG et l’opérationnalisation du forum.


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