NAM Member States Committed to Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage

The definition of cultural heritage has undergone considerable expansion. The term not only includes monuments and collection of objects but also encompasses living intangible expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines intangible cultural heritage as one that is made up of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship knowledge and techniques.

The significance of intangible cultural heritage lies in the fact that it allows cultural diversity to be maintained through dialogue between cultures and the promotion of respect towards other ways of life. Intangible cultural heritage is transmitted from generation to generation and, as such, it is integrative and contributes towards strengthening of cultural diversity. Non-Aligned Movement has called upon the Member States to attach great priority to safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

In this context, Non-Aligned Movement has reaffirmed the commitment to Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, which was signed in 2003 and which entered into force on 20 April 2006. According to Article 1 of the Convention, its purposes are to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage, to ensure respect for the intangible cultural heritage of the communities, groups and individuals concerned, to raise awareness at the local, national and international levels of the importance of the intangible cultural heritage, and of ensuring mutual appreciation thereof and to provide for international cooperation and assistance. According to the Convention, intangible cultural heritage refers to practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.

In accordance with the Convention, NAM has called upon the Member States to implement measures aimed at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage including the identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education, as well as the revitalization of the various aspects of such heritage. NAM has also highlighted the significance of educational, awareness-raising and information programme as well as capacity building activities such as management and scientific research for the preservation of intangible cultural heritage.

A number of NAM Member States have taken significant measures to identify and protect the intangible cultural heritage. A few examples are mentioned here. In India, The Ministry of Culture makes regular schemes towards preservation, protection and promotion of intangible cultural heritage in the country. Various autonomous bodies under the Ministry of Culture have comprehensive mandates in this regard and are functioning in various spheres of preservation and promotion of intangible cultural heritage and diverse traditions of the country.

In Indonesia, education is an important tool in preserving intangible cultural heritage. Intangible cultural heritage-related content has been integrated into the school curriculum as local or extra-curricular content at all levels (up to high school). Educational and training programmes have also been provided in relation to specific intangible cultural heritage elements.

In Ethiopia, Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT) is mandated to identify, inventory, register, safeguard and promote the tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The cultural policy of the country is designed to ensure that the languages, heritage, history, fine arts, handicrafts, oral literature, customs, beliefs, and other cultural elements of the different nations and nationalities of the country. receive equal recognition, respect and opportunity for development.

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