ICH Safeguarding Efforts in the Asia-Pacific
Information on ICH safeguarding system, policy, organizations, and pending issues
ICHCAP Field Survey Report on ICH Safeguarding Efforts in the Pacific Countries
Based on the ICHCAP Field Survey on Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Efforts in some Pacific countries (2009-2013), this summary provides a brief overview on the ICH situation in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, Tonga, Palau, Vanuatu and Federated States of Micronesia. The summary focuses mainly on ICH safeguarding systems, safeguarding policies, and ICH inventories as well as on pending issues and the urgent safeguarding needs of these countries. Moreover, information on the main entities in charge of ICH safeguarding and opinions of each country on the issue of community involvement are provided. To give a quick overview these countries’ participation in ICH safeguarding at the international level, some additional information related to UNESCO is specified as well. Apart from the main topic, information on the situation of intellectual property related to ICH safeguarding in each country is included.
This survey report offers a large sample of the diverse ICH situations in Pacific countries. Each country has a different background on the issue of intangible heritage. Although all countries participating in the survey are concerned with the threats facing their ICH, most of them haven’t defined ICH and haven’t established inventory national ICH list or inventory. However, each country expresses a high degree of motivation and encouragement for safeguarding ICH, sharing experiences, and participating in international cooperation efforts.
Compared to some Asian countries, Pacific countries seem to be well aware of the emerging intellectual property issues related to ICH. This might be related to the internationally publicized infringement and violation of intellectual property rights by outsiders on the Pacific’s traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, and genetic resources . Moreover, these countries appear to collaborate closely with the World Intellectual Property Organization on various awareness-raising and capacity-building activities on protecting traditional culture in a broad sense. To date, out of the eight Pacific countries participating in the survey, five countries (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Palau, and Vanuatu) are drafting laws on the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture.
Furthermore, in terms of technical terminology, the Pacific countries tend to use “traditional knowledge” and “expressions of culture” as equivalent terms to “intangible cultural heritage”. Pacific countries are also conducting cultural mapping projects, which is another common point that they share. Finally, the Pacific region has the highest rate of indigenous populations of any other region of the world and the highest rate of customary or traditional land ownership.