Asia and the Pacific is a considerably sizable region to begin approaching a task as substantial as safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. As a regional centre, ICHCAP has set out to pursue this task by reaching out to those involved in the field within the individual sub-regions in hopes to gain knowledge as well as share it. This initiative, which focuses on the Centre’s mission of disseminating information and developing networks, led to two sub-regional meetings held in Uzbekistan for Central Asia and Fiji for the Pacific, in March and April 2010. The meetings were a valuable opportunity to hear firsthand about the challenges and needs in the field of ICH safeguarding from the Member States as well as building a foundation for future collaboration among Member States in Asia and the Pacific.
The Central Asian Sub-Regional Network Meeting for Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding was held 22-23 March in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and was co-organised by ICHCAP and the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO in collaboration with the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS), and UNESCO offices based in Tashkent and Almaty.
The meeting aimed to promote ICH safeguarding activities in the Central Asian sub-region. The primary objectives of the meeting were to foster an understanding for the current status of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding activities, particularly inventory-making in the Central Asian sub-region, build a cooperative network between the States Parties of Central Asia and ICHCAP in the sub-region, enhance the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention, and expand opportunities for cooperative projects between the Member States, UNESCO Field offices and ICHCAP.
The first day of the meeting began with welcoming remarks from the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports for the Republic of Uzbekistan, Bakhodir Akhmedov and Head of the UNESCO Tashkent Office, Jorge Ivan Espinal. These were followed by keynote presentations by ICHCAP Executive Director, Seong-Yong Park who addressed the issues and tasks in the Implementation of the 2003 Convention and regional collaboration, succeeded by the Secretary General of the National Commission of Uzbekistan, Alisher Ikramov who spoke about the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The presentations for national case studies on ICH inventory were followed by participants from Kyrgyzstan (Bakyt Amanbaeva), Tajikistan (Farogat Azizi), Kazakhstan (Yuri Peshkov), Uzbekistan (Urazali Tashmatov) and the Republic of Korea (Dong Joo Jo).
The first day laid the ground work by presenting background information of ICH activities in the sub-region as well as international safeguarding measures, while the following day provided a chance to develop a path toward future cooperation. On the second day, talks focused primarily on sharing information and experiences surrounding issues regarding the ICH Convention, such as draft revisions of the 2003 Convention Operational Directives, guidelines and formats for periodic reports, and drafts of the operational directives on raising awareness of ICH. These sessions provided an understanding of the Operational Directives of the Convention and addressed the regional needs and challenges of its implementation.
During the final session, Seong-Yong Park gave an introduction of ICHCAP and its activities, as a UNESCO category 2 regional ICH centre. A discussion of concrete measures for building a cooperative network for ICH safeguarding in the Central Asian sub-region led to the unanimous agreement for the adoption of an action plan which was reached among participants.
The adopted action plan entitled Central Asia and ICHCAP: Partnership for Sustainable ICH Safeguarding comprises useful measures to promote cooperation in regards to developing multinational nominations for the Representative List, Urgent Safeguarding List, register of good practices, as well as studies on the harmonisation of national inventories of tangible and intangible heritage, networking between documentation centres in Central Asia and ICHCAP, and translation of the ICH Courier newsletter.