Saturday, November 20, 2010

Engabu Za Tooro wins accreditation to UNESCO

Engabu Za Tooro was invited and sponsored by UNESCO to attend in observer capacity with a right to speak on the UNESCO 5th Session of Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage currently taking place at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi.

This high level UNESCO meeting is attended by 520 representatives of UNESCO state parties and member states of the UN to review the strategies and guidelines of the implementation of The 2003 Convention On Safeguarding The Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Engabu Za Tooro is one of the 32 NGO’s selected from around the world to receive accreditation to UNESCO under this convention this year.

The meeting was officially opened by the Vice President of the Republic of Kenya H/E Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and Her Excellency Irina Bakova, Director General of UNESCO and featured UN experts, ministers, ambassadors and government technocrats representing over 100 UN member states.

On Thursday (18th, November 2010) at 5:25pm Engabu Za Tooro was declared accredited by the chair of the convention. Stephen Rwagweri accompanied by the entire Uganda delegation in the meeting who included Uganda permanent delegation to UNESCO and ambassador to France, Her Excellency Paula Elizabeth Napeyok and Commissioner for Uganda culture Ministry of Gender Labour and Social development, ascended the podium to receive accreditation certificate and gave 3 minute address to the meeting.

Out of the 32 NGO’s accredited, only 4 are from Africa (Uganda, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Egypt).

According to the comments of the UNESCO examiners and experts who assessed applications, the strength of Engabu Za Tooro lies in the innovation of reclaiming values and meaning of people’s ancient traditions and promoting the visibility of cultural heritage in contemporary development practice. Three project concepts in Engabu Za Tooro programmes will be documented and profiled to be presented to UNESCO for official inscription as best practices under the convention.

The practical implication of the accreditation is that Engabu Za Tooro shall have a seat as an observer in the sessions of The Intergovernmental Committee on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage which is the executive arm of the convention that plans and supervises implementation on behalf of the General Assembly. It is also eligible for adoption on other advisory and consultative organs of the convention as a specialized field expert.

The expected role is to provide advisory services to the committee and information from the field that inform the decisions of the committee and link the committee with the grassroot communities who are the ultimate owners of the cultural heritage.  

To execute expected roles effectively Engabu Za Tooro shall access a UNESCO provided support package that include; funding trips for UNESCO meetings, conferences, events, capacity building opportunities, project funding opportunities within the framework of the convention and support with strategic linkages.

It can be remembered that Engabu Za Tooro last December got accreditation to the Traditional Knowledge Division of the World Intellectual Property Organisation to participate in observer capacity in the Sessions of Intergovernmental Committee of Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Engabu Za Tooro is now admitted and will access funding support for representation in six UN meetings a year as follows;

  1. Two sessions a year of Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore in Geneva.
  2. One intercessional working group meeting on Traditional Knowledge a year in Geneva.
  3. One Intergovernmental Committee Session on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage a year.
  4. One Annual Session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues in New York.
  5. UNESCO bi-annual General Assembly.

Engabu Za Tooro developed the programmes with consistent funding support of HIVOS for ten years. Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) documented Engabu Za Tooro hitherto silent and isolated experience making it accessible for international appreciation.

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