Published On: Thu, Sep 8th, 2016

Curaçao co-ratifies the UNESCO 2003 Convention on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage

WILLEMSTAD - Curaçao becomes the fourth country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to co-ratify the UNESCO 2003 Convention on Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

This took place through the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, who declared in conformity with the provisions of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, that the Kingdom of the Netherlands accepted said Convention for Curaçao, and that the provisions so accepted shall be observed in their entirety.

The Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to UNESCO deposited this declaration of acceptance to UNESCO. This is a very important milestone and Curaçao can be proud of this achievement.

The competent authority for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage presenting its territory is the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport. The Ministry is responsible for controlling implementation and execution of said Convention by means of the ICH Committee Curaçao headed by NAAM (National Anthropological Archaeological Memory Management). NAAM is the official NGO in this field recognized by UNESCO.

Curaçao has been working since 2011 on the contents and practices of the ICH Convention with NGOs on the island. UNESCO Curaçao organized various training and meetings together with the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean in Jamaica, and Paris on how to implement the Convention. Participation at training abroad in this field also took place.

In 2015 and this year the Curaçao National Commission organized in collaboration with the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean training on how to safeguard our Cultural Heritage, identify traditions, do inventory on traditions and start to identify traditions to place on the ICH list of UNESCO.

UNESCO’s conventions in the field of culture were drafted and adopted following the request by the Member States to develop international standards that could serve as a basis for drawing up national cultural policies and strengthen cooperation among them.

‘Intangible cultural heritage’ refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and know-how transmitted from generation to generation within communities, created and transformed continuously, depending on the environment and their interaction with nature and history.

We use the term ‘heritage’ as it is transmitted from generation to generation, ‘cultural’ as it provides to communities a sense of identity and continuity, as culture does, and ‘intangible’ as its existence and transmission essentially rely on human will, which is intangible; it is transmitted by imitation and immersion in a practice, and doesn’t necessarily takes the form of a specific place or the production of objects.

Intangible Cultural Heritage is important for the cultural diversity in view of growing globalization. When people are aware of this it helps contribute to intercultural dialogue and promotes mutual respect.

The Convention proposes five broad ‘domains’ in which intangible cultural heritage is manifested:

(a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;

(b) performing arts;

(c) social practices, rituals, and festive events;

(d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;

(e) traditional craftsmanship.

Implementation of the Convention provides benefits to States Parties, concerned communities (and their intangible cultural heritage), as well as relevant organizations and the whole society. Among these benefits include:

have access to international assistance from the Fund of the Convention;

be part of a global network active in the field of heritage, to share expertise and information on the intangible cultural heritage at the international level; Among other benefits of implementing this covenant is the greater respect and understanding between communities.

Once a country ratifies the Convention it has responsibilities it has to comply with, such as at the national level, States Parties must define and inventory the intangible cultural heritage with the participation of the communities concerned; adopt policies and establish institutions to monitor and promote it; encourage research; and take other appropriate safeguarding measures, always with the full consent and participation of the communities concerned.

Six years after ratifying the Convention and every sixth year thereafter, each State Party must submit a report to the Committee at UNESCO Paris in regards to measures it has taken for implementation of the Convention at the national  level.



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