Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: Bhutan (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

A report will be due on 15/12/2024


soon available

Report submitted on 15/12/2017 and examined by the Committee in 2018


It is enshrined in the constitution of Bhutan that “the state shall endeavor to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of the country … language, literature, music” and also “shall recognize culture as an evolving dynamic force and shall endeavor to strengthen and facilitate the continued evolution of traditional values and institutions that are sustainable as a progressive society”. As a late entrant into the process of modernization with exposure to outside world after having remained in the self-imposed isolation, Bhutan was fortunate to inherit intact and rich cultural heritage. The Bhutanese take pride in having the advantage of unique culture and the country had the benefit of learning from the flaws of developed countries.
Gross National Happiness (GNH), as opposed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the development philosophy of Bhutan. Preservation and promotion is one of the four pillars of this philosophy. GNH is mainstreamed in all the annual and five year plans of socio-economic development. Unlike in other countries, the Planning Commission in Bhutan is named as Gross National Happiness Commission and it is the apex body responsible for coordinating and formulating development policy and programmes.
Bhutan ratified the UNESCO Convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) on 12/10/2005. The National Library & Archives, Department of Culture, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, has been shouldering the responsibilities of implementation of activities of ICH required as per this convention.
Under the technical support and financial assistance coordinated by the UNESCO-Delhi, three capacity building workshops were conducted in Bhutan from 2012 to 2014 on different themes as follows;
1. Capacity Building Workshop on Implementation of the 2003 Convention at the national level from 14 to 18 May, 2012. It had the participation of a total of 28 participants which comprised of district culture officers, focal points from the National Library & Archives, Department of Culture, Folk Heritage Museum, Institute of Language & Cultural Studies, HELVETAS-Swiss Development organization- an NGO based in Bhutan having ICH mapping as one of their programmes.
2. Capacity Building Workshop on Community-based inventorying of Intangible Cultural Heritage under the Implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Bhutan was held from April 2-9, 2013. There were 20 participants including district culture officers, focal points from the National Library & Archives, Royal Academy for performing arts, Institute of language and Cultural Studies, Institute Traditional Medicine, Institute of Zorig Chusum (13 arts of Bhutan), National Museum of Bhutan, representative from Local government officials and UNESCO Natcom -Bhutan.
3. The third and the final workshop on the Process of Preparing nomination Dossiers under the two lists of the Convention: Representative List of ICH and the List of ICH in Need of Urgent Safeguarding was held from 4 to 8 March 2014. There were participants from all the relevant agencies.
This Capacity Building Workshops were well-timed coinciding with the process of Inventorying ICH undertaken by Bhutan with the assistance and financing provide by the ICHCAP- korea and it facilitated to great extent.
Development of online database on Intangible Cultural Heritage of Bhutan is operational and in in steady progress. The objectives are to keep updating the data as an inventory resource for researchers and academicians, make the information reference depository for future generation of Bhutan.
Recognizing the urgent need to have Intangible Cultural Heritage Act in place, the Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan signed a tri-partite agreement with the Faculty of Law, Kyushu University, Japan and UNESCO in October 2012. As per this agreement, the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan is to receive assistance from the Faculty of Law, Kyushu University and UNESCO for drafting the National Archives, Heritage Sites and Intangible Cultural heritage Bills of Bhutan.
Drafting the Intangible Cultural Heritage Bill began in January 2014 with the guidance and assistance from the Kyushu University, Japan and UNESCO. The final Bill is submitted to the Minister, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan for final submission to the Parliament of Bhutan.
The Royal Civil Service Commission of Bhutan is carrying out Organizational Development (OD) of the civil service with the objective of right-sizing the ministries/organizations. Taking advantage of this exercise, the Department of Culture has proposed a major overhaul of the department and one of the proposals is to have a unit for International affairs responsible for overseeing and reporting to International Organizations (UNESCO is one of them) on the activities and programs related to regional and international nature. The National Library & Archives of Bhutan, being one of the Divisions under the Department of Culture, has been executing the ICH programs as an interim responsibility as of now. Upon formalization of the OD, it is optimistic that there will be a legitimate and responsible unit for international programs related to cultural affairs too.

Report submitted on 15/12/2014 and examined by the Committee in 2015 (originally due by 15/12/2011)


The Department of Culture of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs is the main competent body in Bhutan. Within this department is the National Library and Archives, acting as the interim body for implementing the 2003 Convention ratified in 2005, until a new unit with responsibility for international affairs is established. A new, dedicated, Intangible Cultural Heritage Law is currently being drafted and planned for submission to Parliament by the end of 2015.
Training in intangible cultural heritage management is also a responsibility of the Department of Culture of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs.
The Research and Media Division of the National Library and Archives is currently the main documentation centre for intangible cultural heritage. An online database of Bhutan’s culture is currently being completed with the aim of constantly updating data for use by researchers and academics.
From 2011 to 2014, the National Library and Archives conducted a field survey in selected villages and communities of 19 districts of the country as part of a joint project with the International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP) of the Republic of Korea. In this project, field survey investigators listed and documented different elements of intangible cultural heritage within the five domains of the 2003 Convention. The survey results are to be published in book form in 2015.
In order to strengthen human resource capacities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the country, three capacity-building activities facilitated by UNESCO trained facilitators and supported by UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust were organized between 2012 and 2014. The first workshop in 2012 on implementing the 2003 Convention was attended by 28 participants, which comprised district culture officers, as well as focal points from the National Library and Archives, Department of Culture, Folk Heritage Museum, Institute of Language and Cultural Studies and HELVETAS-Swiss Development organization – a non-governmental organisation based in Bhutan with mapping related to intangible cultural heritage as one of its programmes. The second activity on community-based inventorying in 2013 and the third and final workshop organized in 2014 on preparation of nomination files to the Lists of the 2003 Convention were also attended by participants from all relevant agencies.
Examples of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation undertaken by Bhutan are the aforementioned project with the ICHCAP category 2 centre and the three training activities supported by UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust. In addition, a tri-partite agreement has been concluded with Kyushu University (Japan) and the UNESCO Office in New Delhi for drafting three heritage-related laws, including the aforementioned Law on Intangible Cultural Heritage to be completed by late 2015.
Bhutan has one element inscribed on the Representative List, the Mask dance of the drums from Drametse (2008), originally proclaimed in 2005 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Some specific safeguarding activities have been undertaken for the Mask dance, including training for several hundred dancer teachers in colleges, schools, monasteries and community centres. Mask dance has also been introduced in schools as part of an educational programme while special rehearsals and short-term training sessions are held each year in advance of the annual festivals.