Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 6.COM 9.1

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Argentina has proposed Voice of the Voiceless for selection and promotion by the Committee as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention, described as follows:

The Voice of the Voiceless programme aims to safeguard expressions of music, rituals and dance that form part of the intangible heritage of Latin America. It focuses particularly on cultural communities that have been historically marginalized and deprived of a voice, such as indigenous groups and people of African descent. The programme starts with field research to identify intangible heritage expressions and then documents performances through sound recordings. These recordings are released through the Voice of the Voiceless Collection, a series of CDs with accompanying audiovisual documentaries and books. The musicians and dancers identified are also involved in performances in the cultural regions concerned and in urban centres in Latin America. The programme further aims to facilitate the transmission of intangible heritage to youth and children. It includes an educational project to disseminate field research in schools and universities as well as indigenous communities and associations, which emphasizes the importance of cultural diversity and of preserving and safeguarding the intangible heritage of Latin America. The programme seeks to build cultural identities through intangible cultural heritage, transcending political borders and strengthening the social integration of beneficiary communities. Work has been accomplished to date in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, and is foreseen for the remainder of South and Central America and the Caribbean.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in proposal 00499, Voice of the Voiceless responds as follows to the criteria for selection in Paragraph 7 of the Operational Directives:

P.1    The programme is aimed at preserving and promoting cultural expressions such as the oral traditions, music or dances of marginalized communities by means of multimedia technology, yet the submitted information does not state how these recordings actually serve to enhance the transmission of knowledge and practices within those communities;

P.2    While the programme has been carried out with different communities from several countries of South America, it is not clearly demonstrated that it has been done as an effort to promote international coordination or cooperation;

P.3    The programme reflects the principles and objectives of the Convention through its emphasis on working with communities, raising awareness, supporting education projects in schools, promoting dialogue between cultures and encouraging respect for cultural diversity;

P.4    The information regarding the outcomes and implementation strategies of the programme lacks definition, making it difficult to assess its real effectiveness in strengthening the viability and sustainability of the intangible cultural heritage concerned;

P.5    Although it is stated that the communities were involved in every stage of the project and their consent was expressed by oral agreements, this does not evidence clearly that they are an active part of the process or have gained ownership of it;

P.6    The submitting State has not well demonstrated that this is a model that may be easily replicated by other countries or in situations similar to this one;

P.7    The submitting State has expressed its willingness to cooperate in the dissemination of the practice;

P.8    Information is needed on experiences and outcomes of the programme that are susceptible to an assessment of their results;

P.9    The programme aims at building cultural bridges between the different peoples who inhabit a vast region, and can therefore serve as a model for developing countries whose cultural realities transcend geographic boundaries.

  1. Decides not to select Voice of the Voiceless as a programme, project or activity best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention;
  2. Recommends clarifying the implementation strategies that may lead to increasing the viability and sustainability of intangible cultural heritage, in particular regarding community involvement and ownership of the programme;
  3. Invites the State Party to evidence efforts and channels of cooperation at the regional and international levels.