Ramallah: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the training workshop on the “Preparation of Nominations Files and International Assistance Requests in the Framework of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage” was conducted online last week. Participants were drawn from the heritage department of the Ministry of Culture in addition to two national trainers from the UNESCO global network of facilitators for the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).
The training took place in the framework of a broader capacity-building project generously funded by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (ADDCT) and implemented by UNESCO. The overall strategic approach of the project is to enhance synergies and complementarity between the government sector and civil society, including academia, for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in a long-term perspective. This includes supporting Palestine to meet its international obligations under the 2003 Convention, which the country ratified in October 2011.
The workshop, extending over a total of 5 days between 4 and 10 May 2020, follows up on two previous workshops on the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention and community-based inventorying of intangible cultural heritage held from 17 November to 2 December 2019 in Ramallah with a larger group of participants from several sectors.
During this 5-day capacity-building training, facilitated by an international expert, the participants deepened their knowledge of the mechanisms provided for in the 2003 Convention to prepare nomination files for inclusion of ICH elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. They also became familiarized with the procedure to request international assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.
Participants felt that this has been a good opportunity to share experiences and take a complementary overview for the previous workshops, which introduced us to ways and mechanisms to combine elements of Intangible Heritage to enhance national capacities and to preserve the Palestinian Intangible Cultural Heritage. The facilitator Maissoun Sharkawi added “We look forward to organizing such workshops in Gaza soon, in order to effectively implement the convention, which includes all actors and groups practicing intangible cultural heritage. “We also look forward, through the Palestinian Intangible Cultural Heritage Law endorsement -hopefully soon- that this agreement will include all Palestinians in all their places of presence.”
The Director General of the Heritage Department of the Ministry of Culture, Muntaser Al-Kom, added that Intangible Cultural Heritage is an important factor in the process of sustainable development through the production, preservation and continuity of intangible cultural heritage, which contributes to the enrichment of cultural diversity and the national cultural landscape. He also stressed that this workshop is an important achievement for the staff of the General Department of Heritage in the Ministry of Culture in light of the Covid-19 pandemic that the whole world is facing, with the use of modern technologies for social communication. Which has already come within the ministry’s need to strengthen the capabilities of the staff in the department.
Furthermore, the workshop was an occasion to upgrade the training capacities and knowledge of two Palestinian members of the global network of facilitators for the 2003 Convention who had already received basic training from the UNESCO Living Heritage Entity in Oujdah (Kingdom of Morocco) in November 2019.
In the opening of the workshop the new Head of the Culture Unit, recently appointed in the UNESCO Ramallah Office, Mr. Giovanni Scepi, stated that this training is a translation of the strong commitment of UNESCO to support and empower the Palestinian authorities, especially the Ministry of Culture, in the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention and to give them access to the several mechanisms of international cooperation foreseen in this convention. He further stressed that UNESCO aims, through this broader capacity-building project, at enhancing the capacities of the institutional framework in Palestine to fully implement the Convention and benefit from its provisions and mechanisms.
Since Palestine joined UNESCO in 2011 and ratified the six UNESCO Conventions in the field of Culture, the UNESCO National Office for Palestine has carried out several specialized trainings and continues to support the Palestinian authorities, and through them the Palestinian society on the effective implementation of these conventions, including the 1972 World Heritage Convention, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the 2005 Convention on the Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and how to benefit from them.