04.07.2011 - UNESCO Venice Office

Final Declaration - 5th Annual Seminar of the South-East European Experts Network on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage

©Information and Documentation Centre of Folk Culture (Turkey)/Semah, Alevi-Bektaşi ritual

The regional meeting organized by the UNESCO Venice Office, together with the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society of Serbia, was held in May 2011 in Belgrade. It offered an opportunity to present and discuss, in a comparative and informative way, the implementation of national measures for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. It was a platform of discussion and exchange of information on the inventorying-making process, a key element in the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.

We, the participants in the fifth regional seminar of the South-East European Experts Network on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Belgrade, 12-13 May 2011), hereinafter ‘the Network’, thank the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society of Serbia for having hosted and organized, together with the UNESCO Venice Office for Science and Culture in Europe, this annual seminar.

We underline that this meeting, that is a follow-up to the previous meetings in Arbanassi, Bulgaria (June 2007), Safranbolu, Turkey (May 2008), Zagreb, Croatia (April 2009) and Râmnicu-Vâlcea, Romania (May 2010), marked an important step forward to enhance a common understanding of opportunities and challenges linked to the policies for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in the region, in particular in the fields of general policies and legislations, documenting and inventorying, training and capacity-building.

During our discussions, the following topics and challenges of common interest emerged:

Legal frameworks, national frameworks and strategies

We encourage the preparation of legal frameworks and national strategies to review existing laws on the protection of cultural heritage and support States Parties’ obligations to identify and define, inventory and safeguard the intangible cultural heritage in their territory.

Inventorying for safeguarding

We emphasize the importance of inventorying as an integral process to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and of involving tradition bearers and practitioners in this process.

Bearing in mind the need for an integral approach to cultural heritage, and the close links between tangible and intangible heritage, we encourage the implementation of research, documentation, digitization measures and cataloguing electronic platforms for the purpose of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.

We recognize the need, in inventorying systems, to be as inclusive and representative as possible of all groups and communities.

Involvement of communities

We encourage the Network to involve communities and groups in the management of intangible cultural heritage, and to support the development of community-centred safeguarding and information systems, with a particular emphasis on the practices relevant to its transmission.

Shared heritage and regional cooperation

We welcome the increasing cooperation established among countries of the Network to develop jointly transnational projects for the safeguarding of shared elements of intangible cultural heritage, including through the preparation of multinational candidature files to the Representative Lists, and encourage, inter alia, a joint initiative focusing on the Roma intangible cultural heritage.

We agree to put a renewed emphasis on the transnational and shared dimensions of intangible cultural heritage and the promotion of multilateral joint research projects, and call upon the UNESCO Venice office to support such future initiatives.

Education, training and capacity building

We welcome the development of the Sofia Category II Regional Centre for intangible cultural heritage as a catalyst among countries of the Network for the promotion of training, information, exchange and awareness-raising on intangible cultural heritage, building in particular on the opportunities offered by the UNESCO network of Chairs and Associated Schools.

We encourage, in particular, the regional Center in Sofia to envisage the establishment of a regional interactive online platform of exchange for the purpose of dialogue, sharing of information and best practices on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, and to partner with all relevant stakeholders, organizations and institutions involved in the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage.

We acknowledge the increasing need for educational (formal and non formal), awareness raising and information programmes, as well as for adapted local curricula on the intangible cultural heritage in schools, to ensure the recognition and enhancement of the intangible cultural heritage in society.

The way forward

We thank the Republic of Serbia for its generous hospitality and we wholeheartedly thank the Hellenic Republic for its proposal to host in Greece the next meeting of the Network in 2012.

We undertake to transmit through our governments the recommendations of the seminar to the next meeting of the Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe that will take place in Belgrade, Serbia on 10 June 2011, as well as to the Forum of the Heads of State of South-East Europe that will be held in Belgrade, Serbia, on 1-2 September 2011, while inviting them to take the necessary measures for their implementation, so that intangible cultural heritage becomes an instrument of intercultural dialogue to the benefit of social cohesion and sustainable development in the region.

Belgrade, Serbia, 13 May 2010




<- Back to: UNESCO Office in Venice
Back to top