28.05.2019 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

South Sudan strengthens capacities to safeguard intangible cultural heritage in emergencies

: Mr. Deng Nhial from South Sudan participated in the UNESCO expert meeting on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in Emergencies. ©UNESCO/Deng Nhial

With the generous financial support from the People’s Republic of China, UNESCO brought together twenty experts from States Parties to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for an expert meeting on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in emergencies.

Following the May 2018 capacity- building workshop on community-based inventorying of intangible cultural heritage in South Sudan, UNESCO supported South Sudan’s participation in an expert meeting on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in emergencies. Mr. Deng Nhial from South Sudan travelled to Paris, France to participate in the meeting, which took place from 21 to 22 May 2019 at UNESCO’s Headquarters.

The meeting aimed to serve as an important step towards producing a practical set of guidelines underpinned by principles for action meant to support the effective implementation of the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention across a wide range of emergency contexts.

Fields of development, conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction or stabilization have so far paid very little attention to intangible cultural heritage. As a result, the potential contribution of intangible cultural heritage to averting conflicts, mitigating their effects or increasing the resilience of affected communities is even less well-documented than is the case with disasters. There are also questions regarding the potential of intangible cultural heritage to prevent conflict beyond highly localized contexts.

Intangible cultural heritage is directly affected by war, destruction, death, displacement, and associated disruption to the social, economic and cultural fabric of communities. People caught up in conflicts face violence, physical and psychological suffering, the loss of property and livelihoods, and the death and scattering of family members.

‘’South Sudan is affected by conflict and its people face a formidable challenge to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage,” said Mr. Nhial, the South Sudan heritage expert who participated in the meeting. “For the conflict affected communities of South Sudan, safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage includes providing physio-social support to recover from shocks of conflict, fostering intercultural dialogue, and building peace and reconciliation among communities,” he added.

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in emergencies can boost resilience and recovery and can also mitigate the negative effects of conflicts on communities. During the meeting, South Sudan’s participating expert was equipped with new skills and tools to develop community-based safeguarding programmes and activities for affected communities in South Sudan within the context of the 2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention.

Links/URLs:

2003 Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention

Survey report: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Displaced Syrians

Culture In Emergencies




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