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Second round of Community-based Intangible Cultural Heritage Capacity-Building Workshop in Yazd, I.R. of Iran

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UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage Tourism and Handicrafts and the Regional Research Centre for Safeguarding intangible Cultural Heritage in West and Central Asia under the Auspices of UNESCO (Tehran ICH Centre) organized the second round of Community-based Intangible Cultural Heritage Capacity-Building Workshop in Yazd, I.R. of Iran from 6 to 11 October 2017.

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is manifested inter alia in the following domains: oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage; performing arts, including traditional theatre, puppertiery, and passion play; social practices, rituals and festive events; traditional knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and traditional craftsmanship.

The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage seeks to safeguard the intangible heritage of humanity; ensure respect for it; raise awareness of the importance of the ICH and ensure mutual appreciation thereof; and provide for international cooperation and assistance. Article 15 of the Convention says: “Within the framework of its safeguarding activities of the intangible cultural heritage, each State Party shall endeavour to ensure the widest possible participation of communities, groups and, where appropriate, individuals that create, maintain and transmit such heritage, and to involve them actively in its management.”

The workshop was opened by the remarks of the Director General of the provincial office of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage Tourism and Handicrafts in Yazd.  He referred to Yazd Province as a very proper place for holding this workshop as the Province contains lots of intangible cultural elements.

“In an increasingly globalized world, I think it is more crucial than ever before to highlight, promote and celebrate the importance of our global cultural diversity.” Said Ms Mohegh while delivering the message of Mr Cvetan Cvetkovski.

The six-day workshop focuses on the documentation and inventorying along with group works and field visits. The workshop is being facilitated by Mr. Rahul Goswami from India who is a very renowned person in this field.

I.R. of Iran currently has 13 elements registered on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and 1,065 elements registered on the national list.

For more information on Intangible Cultural Heritage, please see: 

https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-heritage-00003

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Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue along the Ancient Silk Roads: Religious Influences on Cultural Heritage Sites

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The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicraft, Bu-Ali Sina University and the Iranian Research Center for the Silk Roads cooperated to hold the International Conference on “Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue along the Ancient Silk Roads: Religious Influences on Cultural Heritage Sites” on 28-29 September in Hamedan, hosted by the Municipality of Hamedan and Bu Ali Sina University of Hamedan.

The event brought together experts on the Silk Roads and Religious Heritages from both Iranian and international background and embodied participatory academic lectures and discussions. Experts from Russia, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, Switzerland and France have all gathered in Hamedan to share their professional knowledge and experience evolving around the theme of the conference.

The conference turned to be a key activity in reference of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, in which UNESCO was appointed as lead agency: it was born of the need for new articulations between cultural diversity and universal values. The International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures calls for Member States’ commitment to furthering interreligious and intercultural dialogue and the promotion of mutual understanding and cooperation for peace.

In the opening session, Dr. Hojatollah Ayoubi, the Secretary General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO emphasised the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue and called upon all the audiences to build mutual understanding and tolerance between peoples from the region.

In his speech, Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer in Charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, emphasized the great value of the ancient Silk Roads in terms of its role of promoting communication and peace among the societies: “To tackle with the turbulence and unrest of our time, people have to look back to our history for an answer of peace and sustainability. The numerous splendid historical and cultural heritage sites along Silk Roads left by our ancestors have demonstrated perfectly that there is a way for people of different ethnicities, with different beliefs, to live together peacefully and prosperously. By looking into the development and history of the Silk Roads, we would learn how people once exchanged knowledge, ideas and beliefs while also living and interacting in a harmonious way”. Mr. Cvetkovski also stressed the role of the religious heritages played in regards to improve the peaceful communication between people, as he mentioned: “Each of these sites or monuments not only represents the religions of local communities, but also bears witness to the cultural interaction and disseminations of religion that took place in or around them, revealing the influence of religions from around the world, brought into contact via the historic silk routes”.

The deputy minister of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts, Dr. Mohammad Hasan Talebian, gave his remarks on the tight relation between the Silk Roads and the different believes. He pointed out that our modern society should learn from the people who lived along the ancient Silk Roads to live with each other peacefully. He also called upon the society not only to focus on the differences between the religions but also the common points existed among them, for these common points are the cornerstone of mutual understanding and respect.

Dr. Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, President of Academy of Persian Language and Literature, emphasised the importance of the historical Silk Roads and its role of connecting knowledge and beliefs between the west and the east. Speaking of the modern Silk Roads, he also expressed his high appreciation for the new international Silk Roads initiative and its role of promoting international peace and communication.

Ayatollah Sa’bani, the Imam Jom’eh of Hamedan, also expressed his wish of letting people abandon prejudice on religions. He stressed that no matter what religion one might believe in --- Islam, Christianity or Judaism, people should respect the difference of each other because all the religions ask their followers to show the benevolence and kindness.

After the opening speeches, the two-day long expert panels kicked off at Bu-Ali Sina University and then at Baba Taher hotel. International and national experts on the Silk Roads shared their knowledge regarding themes such as “Shared values among religions and their reflections on the cultural heritage sites”, “Protection and sustainable development of religion-related cultural heritage sites” and “Fostering peace and mutual understanding from a religious point of view”. In the presentations and discussions, religious influences on the sites along the Silk Roads were elaborated and the understanding about the relation between religion and heritage were emphasized.

On the closing session of the event on the second day, the mayor of Hamedan, Mr. Abbas Soufi delivered his remarks by thanking all the contributions made by the experts in the conference. He also highlighted the significant role that Hamedan played in the historical Silk Roads and expressed the will of keeping Hamedan in the loop of promoting the peaceful development of culture.

After his speech, Mr. Cvetkovski concluded the international conference by reiterating the significance of the historical value of the Silk Roads and the effort of preserving the shared value of respect and tolerance along the Silk Roads made by different parties, as he said: “It is my hope that from the two day’s conference, we can genuinely improve our understanding about the importance of embracing cultural diversity and respecting different beliefs …it is not exaggerating to attribute what we have achieved today to our ancestor’s benevolence and generosity to others, and to their selfless sharing with each other.”

In addition to the panels of the conference, the Municipality of Hamedan has also arranged a series of cultural field trips for the experts. Participants took the chance to explore some famous historical and natural sites such as the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai, Imam Khomeini square and the Alisadr Cave.

It is expected that a publication reflecting the outcomes of the Conference will be prepared and co-published in the near future by UNESCO and the Iranian Research Center for the Silk Roads at Shahid Beheshti University.

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Iran hosted the 6th Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee Meeting of the Serial Transnational World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads

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The UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran, in cooperation with the Ministry of Cultural Heritage Tourism and Handicrafts, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO and the municipality of Hamedan, organized the 6th Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee Meeting of the Serial Transnational World Heritage Nomination of the Silk Roads on 23-25 September 2019 in Hamedan, Islamic Republic of Iran.

The World Heritage Centre has coordinated the preparation of the serial transnational World Heritage nomination of the Silk Roads since 2003, in close cooperation with five Central Asian countries and China. Together, they organized regional and sub-regional consultation meetings, established the inter-governmental Coordinating Committee, which brings together 16 participating countries and Bhutan as Observer, and elaborated a Thematic Study on the Silk Roads, in collaboration with ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre. Since 2003, projects financed via the UNESCO/Netherlands, UNESCO/Japan and UNESCO/Norway Funds-in-Trust have supported capacity-building activities and nomination preparation in Central Asia, and since July 2013, the UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust also support the South Asian Silk Roads project.

The 6th Coordinating Committee Meeting brought together National Focal Points and experts from Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, which are among the members of the Coordinating Committee. During different plenary sessions, the participants reviewed and updated the Terms of Reference of the Coordinating Committee and discussed ways to improve its working methods. They also reviewed the state of conservation of the inscribed World Heritage property ‘Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor’ and sought to identify ways to improve the coordination and management of the property. The meeting also reviewed the progress made by the participating countries in the serial World Heritage nomination process for the Silk Roads and discussed further work on the thematic studies of the land routes of the Silk Roads. UNESCO representatives and international experts, including the experts from the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre in Xi’an (IICC Xi’an), which acts as the Secretariat  of  the  Coordination  Committee, took part in the meeting  as resource  persons.

The opening ceremony of the Coordinating Committee meeting was attended by high-level officials from the Government of Iran, including the Minister of Higher Education, Minister of Sciences and Research as well as the Minister of Culture Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts.

The participants enjoyed visiting the cultural sites in Hamedan Province on the last day of the meeting. Based on the generous offer extended by the representative from the Government of China, the 7th meeting of the Coordinating Committee will be held in China in spring 2021.

This meeting was financed by the UNESCO/Japan and UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust, the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran and the Hamedan Municipality.

 

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Representatives of nine countries attended the “Regional Meeting for the Identification and Exchange of Documentary Heritage” held in Tehran

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The UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, the National Library and Archives Organization of Iran and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO cooperated to hold the Regional Meeting for the Identification and Exchange of Documentary Heritage, from the 3-4 September in Tehran, Iran. 

The event brought together the Chairs of National MoW Committees and Directors of National Archives and Libraries from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. 

The meeting is a follow up to a regional meeting organized in Tehran in 2017 to “Enhance Cooperation for the Preservation and Access to Documentary Heritage”, where a need to discuss regional cooperation for exchanging and identification of documentary heritage in the region was identified by the participants.

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Dr. Ashraf Boroujerdi, Head of the National Library and Archives Organization of Iran, opened the regional meeting by welcoming the international guests and thanking UNESCO for its invaluable mandate in building peace, friendship and cooperation among and between the Nations. She stated that discovering and identifying common heritage of cultures reminds us of a time when nations had constructive and peaceful cooperation and highlighted that returning to this era of intercultural exchange is the best way to prevent wars and violence. 

The next speaker was Dr Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer in Charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office who referred to documentary heritage as the primary means of knowledge creation. He said: “The Memory of the World expresses the great humanist idea that people from all cultures and faith can unite around common heritage. A very good example of this idea is the history of the Silk Roads, which is one of the themes of this meeting”.  It’s worth mentioning that the participating delegates undertook national inventories of the documentary heritage of their countries. this was the first ever initiative to survey Silk Road documentary heritage collections at the national and sub-regional levels. 

Dr Ayyoubi, the Secretary General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO talked about the role knowledge for building peace and establishing dialogue, and the fact that the knowledge won’t be gained without considering the tangible, intangible cultural and documentary heritage of societies. He pointed out to the Iranian National Memory of the World Committee as one of the most active committees that is endeavoring to raise public awareness on this issue of the documentary heritage throughout the country. 

After the opening speeches, expert sessions started where participants presented country reports on the results of the survey of documentary heritage relating to the Silk Roads at national level. 

As side evets of this regional meeting, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the National Library of Uzbekistan and the National Library of Iran. Furthermore, during a meeting between the Director of the National Archives of Afghanistan and Head of National Library of Iran, joint activities such as joint international registration of Masnavi Ma’navi, organization of joint photo exhibition of manuscripts of Iran and Afghanistan etc were discussed.

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18 August 2019 - UNESCO Participates in the 2019 International Youth Day Celebration

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UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office participated in the celebration of the “International Youth Day”, organized by the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Sport and Youth, the Abbass Abad Recreational Complex and the Youth Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, which took place in the evening of 18 August 2019 at the Abbass Abad Recreational Complex.

A number of Iranian officials, including the Sectary General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, Dr. Ayoubi, the Deputy of the Ministry of Sport and Youth, Mr. Mohammad Mehdi Tond Guyang, the spokesperson of the Iranian government, Mr. Ali Rabiei and the Officer in Charge of Youth Organization of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Mr. Ali Ganj, along with a representative of Youth NGOs, have participated and delivered speeches in the celebration.

This year’s theme of the International Youth Day is Transforming Education. The theme highlights the efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” – the International Youth Day 2019 examined how governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education so that it becomes a powerful tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The ceremony started with a live traditional Kurdish music performance and a welcome speech given by Mr. Hejazi, the head of Park’s Renovation Company.

Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer-in-Charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office delivered a speech at the celebration. In his statement he reiterated the important social role played by youth and UNESCO’s longstanding commitment to involve youth in its programmes: “Youth have always been a major focus in UNESCO’s programmes. Youth is among the key actors and partners in UNESCO’s mission to ‘contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue’. Since its creation UNESCO has been the first agency of the United Nations to develop specific programmes for young people.  UNESCO’s longstanding commitment to youth has taken a new impetus with the UNESCO Strategy for Action with and for Youth in 1998, when youth was recognized as a priority group for the Organisation’s action. Until today, under the UNESCO’s framework of youth programme, UNESCO has launched and promoted a variety of actions regarding youth and its development. The common spirit of these actions is that they are ‘By Youth, With Youth and For Youth.’”

The celebration of the International Youth Day highlighted the efforts of improving the inclusive education that has been made by the Iranian government and called upon the whole society to draw more attention on the issue of inclusive education and to endeavor to confront the new challenges we are facing nowadays: It was emphasized that the ever-changing nature of our society, constantly exposes us to new challenges that never existed before. Our longstanding commitment remains clear and firm: we should ‘leave no one behind’ in the area of education. Today, on the occasion of the celebration of the International Youth Day, we could draw more attention from the whole Iranian society to the issue of youth development and specifically, to the theme of transforming education. To achieve this goal, UNESCO and other parties alike, should spare no effort to join their forces and work hand in hand in building up more relevant, more equitable and more inclusive education for our next generation.

In addition to the speeches, a series of side events have also been held during the celebration, including traditional Iranian music performance and a presentation of charity actions to improve the treatment of cancer.

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18 August 2019 - UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in collaboration with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) concluded the “World Heritage Specialist Guide Training Program” in Iran

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Tourist guides from World Heritage Sites in Iran participated in the “World Heritage Specialist Guide Training Program” in Kermanshah from 04 to 08 August 2019 to upgrade their knowledge of World Heritage Sites and acquire new skills needed to become a specialized World Heritage tour guide. The participants composed a mixed group coming from the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and the Iranian Federation of Tourist Guides Association (IFTGA), thus bringing together the private and government sectors to exchange on best tourism practices and issues affecting the cultural tourism industry.

“UNESCO believes that World Heritage and tourism stakeholders share a joint responsibility for the conservation of our common cultural and natural heritage through appropriate tourism management,” stated Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski, Officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, in his opening speech. Along the same lines, Dr. Talebian, Deputy for Cultural Heritage of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) emphasized, “tourist guides are the best protectors of historical sites and a balance between tourism and conservation should always be considered in World Heritage Sites”.

20190818 UNESCO2©2019_Bisotun World Heritage Site Achieve_”World Heritage Specialist Tour Guide Training Program”

The workshop addressed a number of topics including heritage conservation, interpretation, tourism management and local community participation. The first two days focused on the key concepts of the 1972 Convention, including the criteria for inscription in the World Heritage List and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The workshop continued with important information on conservation and preservation of heritage sites and concluded with the key skills needed to be a professional tour guide: presentation, interpretation and influencing visitor’s behavior. As part of the training, ICHHTO organized a site visit in Bisotoun World Heritage Site for all the participants.

A number of lectures from Iranian cultural heritage experts enriched the training program and provided the participants with a unique insight on World Heritage Sites in Iran. In a keynote lecture, Dr. Talebian (the Deputy for Cultural Heritage of ICHHTO) provided an overview of the Iranian sites inscribed in the World Heritage List, explaining also the process of inscription in the World Heritage List and some key elements of the 1972 Convention. Mr. Azizi (Director of World Heritage Office at ICHHTO) shared with the audience some challenges and opportunities on tourism management at World Heritage sites in Iran. Finally, Mr. Ejraei (site manager of Bisotun World Heritage Site) presented the Bisotun World Heritage Site to the participants in preparation for the field trip to the site scheduled as part of the program.

Mr. Cvetan Cvetkovski (Officer-in-charge of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office) concluded by “expressing the strong commitment of UNESCO in standing side by side with Iran to ensure that World Heritage Sites are preserved for the future generations and that sustainable cultural tourism benefits the country and the many visitors traveling to explore this beautiful land.”

This workshop was the first of the many initiatives that in the following three years will be organized under the EU-funded project “Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran- the International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage” implemented by UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office in close collaboration with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.

 
 
 
 
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