Bosnia and Herzegovina, which became a State Party to the 2003 Convention in 2009, comprises two political entities, namely the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBH), which consists of ten cantons, and the Republic of Srpska (RoS). The latter has competence over cultural heritage matters while the ten cantons of the FBH also enjoy competency over cultural heritage under their constitutional law. The legislation of the FBH for cultural and natural heritage, especially the draft Law on the Protection and Use of Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage, is being brought into line with the 2003 Convention, while the cultural heritage legislation of two of six cantons that have enacted such legislation follows the Convention. In RoS, the overall competent body is the Ministry of Education and Culture which established a Commission for the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011; the Museum of RoS has also set up a Department for Intangible Cultural Heritage. In FBH, the Department of Scientific Research within the Institute for Protection of Monuments is engaged in research, identification and documentation activities and the cantonal Ministries of Education, Science, Culture and Sports have competency in the field of heritage for their own cantons. The de facto bodies conducting safeguarding actions on the ground are museums and other cultural institutions established by municipalities, municipal councils and non-governmental organizations. In addition, the Bosnia and Herzegovina branch of the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF) also plays an important role in promoting intangible cultural heritage in the country.
Although there is no dedicated body for training in intangible cultural heritage management, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the National Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina for UNESCO have organized, with the support of the UNESCO Antenna Office in Sarajevo, a training workshop on various aspects of safeguarding for representatives of government, the NGO sector and public institutions. In RoS, documentation is collected and held in the Department for Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Museum and access to this data is open to the general public. For FBH, the federal Ministry of Culture and Sports keeps and updates the register of intangible cultural heritage while documentation institutions operate at the cantonal level (through museums, the Sarajevo Music Academy and a cantonal Ministry). The Society for the Digitization of Traditional Culture is also active in making relevant records and documents digitally available.
Inventorying is also an activity conducted separately at the level of the RoS and FBH. In the former, the Department for Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Museum has established the Preliminary List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Srpska which is organized according to communities and groups and the territorial scope of RoS. Its main criteria are the viability of the element and inter-generational continuity of the practice, even if the numbers of bearers may be fewer than previously. The Preliminary List can be consulted by members of the public and a summary version is available also on official websites. Elements for inscriptions are proposed by community members who complete inventory forms with the help of museum experts who forward these to the Department for Intangible Cultural Heritage; since a large number of non-governmental organizations are associated with elements, they also are involved in the inventorying process. In FBH, the Federal Ministry maintains the Preliminary List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Federation which uses inscription criteria based on the 2003 Convention as set out in the inventory questionnaire filled out by those wishing to propose an element for inscription. The inventory is continuously updated in coordination with the competent cantonal authorities and on the basis of initiatives by non-governmental organizations; it is available on the Federal Ministry website. The cultural communities of inscribed elements are reported to be actively involved in their identification, definition and documenting. Two cantons have also put in place initiatives for inventorying on the cantonal level.
Information on other safeguarding measures is mostly given for RoS. Here, regulations were adopted in 2014 for maintaining a Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic. In terms of research, the Ministries of Energy and of Education and Culture jointly funded a project on ‘Old Crafts of Republic of Srpska’ (2007-11) and its publication in which the skills, knowledge and mastery of 13 crafts were recorded. As for promotional activities, in the Republic of Srpska postage stamps related to intangible cultural heritage were created between 2013 and 2015, traditional events are held in the original locations of elements and all local communities promote their elements through electronic and print media. One CIOFF folk festival is held annually in RoS. In FBH, the Federal Ministry supports two CIOFF certified folk festivals and has included intangible cultural heritage in the European Heritage Days programme and conferences, with round tables, exhibitions etc. that have been held to promote this heritage. Throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Association of Croatian Amateur Cultural Clubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UHAKUD) co-organizes a number of cultural events and has also developed a system for the safeguarding, reassessment and transmission of elements and for mapping and informal education. It also organizes workshops, seminars, folklore parades, craft fairs etc.
Among educational programmes conducted in RoS, school clubs on Zmijanje embroidery have been set up in elementary schools for the transmission of this element while a humanitarian/cultural association has organized two Schools on Zmijanje embroidery for women in local communities. This informal approach to transmission within the community is recognized by both communities and the state authorities and, in the future, the creation of regional centres of intangible cultural heritage in four museums is foreseen. In FBH, students in the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo have been trained by the local community of woodcarvers from Konijc while, in Konijc Secondary School, education and training in woodcarving has been included in the curriculum from 2015-6. At the cantonal level, the transmission of knowledge and skills to young people and others is through educational programmes offered in schools and community centres, or organized by cultural associations of bearers. In West Herzegovina Canton, one of the measures of the Development Strategy (2014-2020) is the management of cultural, natural and intangible heritage and includes educating the public about this heritage, training on its safeguarding and media promotion among others.
In terms of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, the Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina organized a visit to the Republic of Croatia to learn from experience gained in inventorying and other safeguarding best practices. Representatives of the Ministry also regularly participate in meetings of the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe (a category 2 centre in Sofia). Between 2006 and 2011, the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Institute for the Protection of Cultural, Historic and Natural Heritage of the Republic of Srpska hosted six regional conferences on integrative protection, which included presentations on safeguarding and documenting intangible cultural heritage. In terms of networking, there is continuous cooperation with Ministries, museums and other public institutions in the region for the exchange of experiences and expertise. In addition, UHAKUD in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of the federal Ministry of Tourism and Environment, held an international folklorists’ congress in 2010 aimed at sharing knowledge and best practices related to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage between regional experts and developing common programmes for implementing the 2003 Convention.
At the time of reporting, Bosnia and Herzegovina had one element inscribed on the Representative List, Zmijanje embroidery, inscribed in 2014. The bearers of this element are women who, as individuals and members of youth and women’s associations practise and safeguard the element. In addition to mother-to-daughter modes of transmission, there is both formal education and non-formal training of girls in clubs. Since inscription, local communities have increased the scope of their safeguarding activities and new local communities have become involved; the Museum of Srpska plays a significant role in such activities (e.g. exhibitions and other promotional actions) and there is also regular contact between the Ministry of Education and Culture and bearers through the museum who report to the Ministry officials on the state of the element, their problems and activities taken.