2003 Convention Implementation Workshop and Policy Advice in Aruba
The project Strengthening national capacities for effective safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Aruba has made it possible to implement a first operational activity, that is, to provide government agencies with policy advice on the importance of the cultural sector in boosting national sustainable development, and to hold a 2003 Convention Implementation Workshop in Aruba.
The Convention was ratified by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and came into force in its European and Caribbean territories and in Aruba on 3 September 2012. This workshop was thus the first initiative of its kind in the Dutch Caribbean and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The event was opened by Mr. Arthur Dowers, Minister of Education; Mrs. Ineke Strouken, Director of the Dutch Centre for Popular Culture; and Mr. Fernando Brugman, Culture Coordinator at UNESCO Havana.
In his welcoming remarks to government and community representatives, Mr. Dowers highlighted the importance of safeguarding the country’s intangible heritage and made reference to a cultural expression called Paran, a symbol of community identity that has gone almost extinct.
The Workshop was organized by the Aruba National Commission for UNESCO, with support from the Aruba Cultural Heritage Division. It was attended by 25 representatives of leading cultural institutions on the island.
The event provided an excellent framework for national consultation, focusing on two aspects: the Convention, its key concepts and ratification implications on the one hand, and its implementation strategy in Aruba on the other.
Participants said they are very pleased to help formulate and implement ICH safeguarding policies and prepare a report on national safeguarding priorities. They also said they are now able to better understand the true impact of ICH on their daily lives and its diversity and richness on the island. They now realize that their ICH covers not oral traditions like dande (New Year celebration) and Sabaneta Christmas carol, but also the knowledge and use of medicinal plants, like aloe vera.
Likewise, they discussed the inclusive nature of the Convention and recognized that accelerating globalization provides for social cohesion and mutual understanding and respect.
They also emphasized the need to safeguard Papiamento as an autochthonous language and ICH vehicle, and to incorporate new cultural expressions that enhance the country’s cultural life into this heritage.
They are very excited about the further implementation of the project seeking to strengthen national capacities thanks to the contribution made by the Kingdom of Norway, which will include the holding of a workshop in Oranjestad in the first quarter of 2013 and the participation of Aruba experts in another workshop to be held in Havana in the second half of 2013.
The Workshop Final Declaration, which will soon be available on line, highlights the will of all participants to continue helping formulate and implement safeguarding policies in Aruba and to support the draft national strategy that was advanced at the event. It also underlines the importance of culture in national development, and thanks the donor and the organizers for such a successful undertaking.
The Workshop was attended by Mrs. Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar, Minister of Economy, Social Affairs and Culture. In an interview with the UNESCO representative, she reiterated the vital need to safeguard the cultural heritage in Aruba.