Skip to main content


By October 21, 2015November 4th, 2015No Comments

(Une version française de cette communication est disponible ici en PDF)


Towards a Code of ethics for ICH NGOs?

Symposium on the occasion of 10. COM Intergovernmental Committee Meeting of the UNESCO
2003 Convention for 
the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage

29 November 2015
10.00 am – 4.00pm

UNESCO Conference Venue – Country Club Resort; 
B1 Western Bypass, Windhoek South, Namibia



PURPOSE of the Symposium

In the course of the discussions on the UNESCO 2003 Convention and its implementation, ethical questions of ethics have come up. These questions may concern practices of ICH: for example issues of human rights, gender inequality, children’s rights, animal well being, ecological sustainability, etc…).Questions of ethics also may concern procedures and policy tools, the way they are decided, developed or practiced in the framework of the Convention (for example relating to the selection of elements for the Lists and Register).
In recent years the question has come up whetherit would be necessary to develop an ethical frame relating to the diverse ethical issues appearing in the context of safeguarding (policies) for ICH.
A UNESCO ‘Expert meeting on a model code of ethics’ was organized during Spring 2015, hosted by Spain, on this topic. 
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the main lines that should appear in a possible code of ethics for intangible cultural heritage. The preparatory documents as well as the report of the meeting are online on the UNESCO 2003 website (see below). The report of the Expert meeting will also be an item on the agenda of this 10. COM Intergovernmental Committee Meeting.
It seems very difficult though to make progress in developing a universally shared set of ethical principles concerning the politics and practices of (safeguarding) Intangible cultural heritage. 

Many questions come up:

  • Is it desirable to design one general set/code of ethics?
  • Is it preferable to develop distinguished ethical frameworks for e.g. the work of the Convention and the States Parties involved; for the communities, groups and in some cases individuals concerned; for other intermediary parties concerned such as experts, NGOs and heritage volunteers and professionals active in the field of ICH…?
  • Should an approach of either a code of ethics, either a more loose set of ethical principles be fostered?
  • Do we prefer a rather technical approach – forming a basis for jurisprudence? Or is it on the contrary valuable to work towards a sort of shared ideology with a set of ethical principles to be endorsed by involved parties?
  • Is it in any way possible to go beyond existing international human rights instruments and to find sufficient ethical consensus -and to which degree?- given the context of cultural diversity that is so important for the perspective of ICH and the communities, groups and in some cases individuals involved?
  • Should or could we develop a Code of Ethics for ICH NGOs, and if yes, is it a role of the ICH NGO Forum to take the lead for this?

These questions form the starting point for reflection and debate in the 2016 ICH NGO FORUM SYMPOSIUM.


Send your proposal to putting forward a vision, reflection or proposal on the subject
Max. 300 words – by 13th of November, 2015 – 4 presentations will be selected for presentation on the Symposium.

* Used language in the SYMPOSIUM will be English and French; no interpretation is foreseen.

* We hope to welcome a wide participation and cooperation by NGOs and related States Parties representatives:

We kindly invite States Parties representatives to participate in the Symposium!

More background information? Have a look here! (download a pdf with more information)




29th of November 2015



General Meeting ICH NGO FORUM

10.00 am – 12.30 am
(only open to members of the Forum)

10.00 am – WELCOME by Jorijn Neyrinck for the Organizing committee of the ICH NGO Forum

10.10 am – WORKING SESSION 1:

Follow up on the results of the ICH NGO Forum Conference in Catalunya (June 2015):

A/ Developing the Structure and Work of the ICH NGO Forum:

  • Proposal 1: The roles and functions of the Forum: Mission, vision, values
  • Proposal 2: Steering Committee for the ICH NGO Forum

B/ Proposal: contribution of the Forum to the Evaluation Body

11.30 am – Coffee break

11.45 am WORKING SESSION 2: Proposal and adoption of the ICH NGO Forum Statement 10. COM

12.00 am – Presentation of #Heritage Alive (by Eivind Falk)

12.30 am- 2.00 pm – LUNCH BREAK



2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

2.00 pm  INTRODUCTION on the Symposium: Towards an ethical code for ICH NGOs?

2.15 pm  4 presentations (see CALL for presentations above)

3.15 pm  Round Table Discussions: Towards which Code of Ethics for the ICH NGO Forum?
Moderated by the Steering Committee members

3.50 pm – SHARING OUTCOMES and CONCLUSIONS (plenary)

4.00 pm – End



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.