Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 9.C.1

The Committee,

  1. Recalling Chapter V of the Convention and Chapter I of the Operational Directives, concerning the approval of international assistance requests,
  2. Having examined Document ITH/14/9.COM 9.c as well as the international assistance request 00974,
  3. Takes note that Albania has requested international assistance in the amount of US$158,200 for ‘Establishing and promoting the inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Albania’:

At present, Albania lacks an inventory of intangible cultural heritage present in its territory. The project aims to remedy this situation by establishing and promoting such an inventory. The project intends first to develop a national strategy for inventorying, promoting and disseminating intangible cultural heritage. This would be followed by the organization of awareness-raising sessions to educate communities, policy-makers and the public about its importance. The project aims to build the capacities of community representatives, bearers, local authorities and cultural institutions through training sessions and fieldwork. Specific activities would include: the organization of training sessions for project management and management of the database, data collection, development and implementation of safeguarding and promotion plans and measures, the establishment of an awareness-raising campaign on the importance of intangible cultural heritage and community education, and the collection, processing, analysis and entry of field data. The resulting inventory would be accessible via a dedicated database linked to a website, and published through seven brochures and an encyclopaedia. The project would also create and promote an exhibition on intangible cultural heritage in Albania.

  1. Decides that, from the information provided in file 00974, the request responds as follows to the criteria for granting International Assistance given in Paragraphs 10 and 12 of the Operational Directives:
    1. The project responds to criterion A.6, as it foresees an effort to establish an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Albania and especially to strengthen human and institutional capacities that could be utilized at the local and national level for future updating and inventorying work. Workshops aim at building the capacities of representatives of local communities, bearers, local cultural authorities and local institutions to carry out the inventory; a workshop is also planned to evaluate the results of the project. Nevertheless, an absence of details pertaining to their content makes it difficult to determine the extent to which these planned capacity-building activities would actually achieve their goals and contribute to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.
    2. With regard to community participation in the preparation of the request and in the implementation of the proposed activities (criterion A.1), the request describes mechanisms to involve selected community representatives in the future, notably through a Steering Committee, but does not provide evidence of their participation in preparing the request. It appears, moreover, that the community members of that committee and regional and local coordination groups will be selected by government officials rather than the communities themselves, and neither the criteria for selection nor a clear description of their roles is provided. Key activities – including in particular the development of national strategies for intangible cultural heritage and for inventorying – rely completely on expert consultants.
    3. A general outline of project activities lacks sufficient details of their planning and organization to be able to determine how well-conceived or feasible they are (criterion A.3). The fact that the request bears a striking similarity to others submitted by other States is not in the spirit of Article 12 of the Convention, which provides that States Parties shall draw up inventories in a manner geared to their own situations; it also raises doubts about community participation in the preparation of the request (criterion A.1).
    4. The proposed activities do not correspond to the timetable or budget in areas such as field collection of data, which further challenges their feasibility. Those activities are conceived in a top-down manner and the core of the programme – inventorying – is insufficiently described. The competence of the implementing agency appears to imply that the inventory will be limited to music and will not extend to other domains of intangible cultural heritage.
    5. The proposed budget has numerous calculation errors and inconsistencies and does not correspond to the proposed activities and timetable; with insufficient information provided on the actual activities to be carried out, it is difficult to ascertain whether the amount requested is appropriate (criterion A.2). Importantly, it appears that inventorying itself represents the smallest part of the budget and is not clearly specified. It is also troubling that remuneration is foreseen only to experts and officials, but does not specify if and how the community representatives who will conduct the inventorying will be compensated. All in all, the budget appears to be top-down and top-heavy.
    6. The request does not demonstrate the sustainability of the project and its lasting results beyond completion of the proposed activities (criterion A.4); there is little explanation of future actions or initiatives that will be taken following the project’s end, and no potential actors are mentioned. Although the project would benefit from several partnerships at the local and national level, thereby implying the possibility of future support for the updating of the inventory and other related safeguarding activities (consideration 10.b), the request does not provide sufficient information to assess the real likelihood of such support. The project does not imply cooperation at the international level (consideration 10.a), being national in scope and involving national implementing partners.
    7. The State Party proposes to share the costs of the proposed activities and has committed to contribute US$20,800, which represents about 12% of the total project budget (criterion A.5). With regard to previously financed activities (criterion A.7), Albania implemented the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project ‘Safeguarding Albanian Folk-Iso-polyphony’ (2006-2010) for an amount of US$91,033, a US$25,000 initiative under the title ‘Safeguarding Albanian Folk Iso-Polyphony – The cradle that grew up the polyphony’ (2009-2012) within the One UN Albania Annual Work Plan 2009, as well as an international assistance from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for an amount of US$24,500 to establish an ‘Inventory of Albanian folk iso-polyphony’ (2011-2012); the work stipulated by the contracts related to these projects was carried out in compliance with UNESCO’s regulations and the projects completed.
  2. Decides not to approve the international assistance request from Albania for ‘Establishing and promoting the inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Albania’;
  3. Acknowledges the commitment of the State Party to establish an inventory of intangible cultural heritage in Albania and notes its willingness to reinforce human and institutional capacity and mobilize several local and national partners for the inventorying process;
  4. Invites the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit a request, to provide a more coherent and detailed description of the proposed activities, timetable and budget, ensuring their consistency with the overall project scope and objectives;
  5. Encourages the State Party to ensure the widest possible participation of concerned communities in the preparation of the request and in the design and implementation of each activity that is a part of the inventorying process;
  6. Reminds the State Party that requests for international assistance, even if they are inspired by previously funded projects, need to be aligned to the specific context of the country in order to be able to address its specific needs and recalls the Consultative Body’s previous observation that ‘each file should have its own identity and cannot be the mere adaptation by analogy of previously successful files’ (Document ITH/13/8.COM 7).