2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH

Discover the Intangible Cultural

2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible cultural Heritage.

Since 1989 a series of Intergovernmental meetings of experts were organized by UNESCO with the intention to discuss the scope of legally binding instrument. The outcome of such an extensive intellectual political and legal process was the unanimous adoption by the 32nd session of the General Conference of UNESCO of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on 17th October 2003.

The 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) dwells into the international protection of the:

…the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage. The ICH is transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
(Text of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH)

For safeguarding the ICH, the 2003 Convention emphasises the viability of the practice – it is living cultural heritage, vital and dynamic and is a continued practice within and by the relevant cultural community.

While the Convention does not specify it requires that an appropriate authority is designated to facilitate the implementation of the convention. It can be a museum, an archival institution, an academic or professional body, a government Department or cultural agency spearheading work on ICH at the national level. This depends on the systems and processes adopted by the state party.

  • Fiji State Party Obligations
  • Partnership in the protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Implementation of Convention
in Fiji

  • Institutional Mechanisms
  • Policies and Frameworks
Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists

  • Fiji National ICH Register
  • Inscription of ICH Elements
  • Nomination Process
Fiji ICH Projects

  • iTaukei Cultural Mapping Project
  • Rotuma Mapping Projects
  • ICHCAP Projects
  • LHT Project
  • ICH Safeguarding Workshops
  • Development of Practitioners
  • Exhibitions/Shows
  • Fiji National Festival 2015
Fiji State Party Obligation

The Pacific is inundated with diversity of ICH. Numerous consultations have been pursued at the regional level to assist nations working towards the process of ratification of the 2003 Convention for ICH. A first regional consultation was held in Nadi, Fiji. A second gathering was held in Fua’amotu, Tonga in 2008 attended by regional experts and culture officials alike. The outcome of the meeting was fruitful.

Fiji ratified the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding ICH in 2010. This required the state party to implement the following initiatives as part of its obligatory functions under the Convention:

Drawing up an inventory or more inventories of ICH present in its territories

Submission of a report on the 15th of December of the sixth year – the implementation of the Convention at the national level to the Intergovernmental Committee;

Adopt a general policy aimed at promoting the functions of the intangible cultural heritage in society;

Appoint or establish one or more competent bodies for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage present in Fiji;

Foster scientific, technical and artistic studies as well as research methodologies with a view of safeguarding ICH

Foster training in the management of ICH;

Foster the transmission of ICH through forums and spaces intended for the performance of expression thereof;

Ensure access to ICH while respecting customary practices;

Establish documentation institutions for ICH and facilitate access to these data.

Create visibility of ICH through awareness raising; education system on knowledge transmission, and capacity building;

Partnership in the protection of the
intangible cultural heritage

To ensure maximum work on ICH safeguarding activities is undertaken at the national level, Fiji has endeavoured to ensure the widest possible participation of:

  • ICH Communities;
  • ICH Practitioners;
  • Groups and individuals with vested interest in the safeguarding of ICH;
  • Academic and learning institutions;
  • NGOs;
  • Other government Departments and Statutory Institutions
  • Civil Society Groups

The Department of National Heritage, Culture & Arts is organising Memorandum of Understandings with the above stakeholders to ensure their participation is solicited.



Fiji National ICH Register

Fiji National Heritage Register

A Fiji National Intangible Cultural Heritage Register will be established soon!

  1. Designation of important intangible cultural heritage;
  2. Levels of ICH (criteria, process of designation)
  3. Classification of ICH designated according to Convention ICH domains
Inscription of ICH Elements

Inscription of ICH Elements

As a state party to the 2003 Convention for Intangible Cultural Heritage, Fiji can nominate elements of ICH in its national register for inscription in one of the 3 UNESCO ICH Lists:

  1. REPRESENTATIVE LIST OF ICH OF HUMANITY: is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
  2. ICH IN NEED OF URGENT SAFEGUARDING LIST: is composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and state parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive!
  3. REGISTER OF BEST SAFEGUARDING PRACTICES: contains programs, projects and activities that best reflect the principles and the objective of the convention.

Nomination and Evaluation Process

A State Party can make nominations for inscription in one of the above List however,appropriate forms are to be prepared in accordance with the guidelines provided.

(View Operational Guidelines).

Nomination and Evaluation Process

The 3 Lists have different requirements and forms for completion:

    1. Representative List of ICH of Humanity.Nomination for elements in the Representative List must be submitted using the Form ICH-02, ICH-07 photo,ICH-07 Video.


      • Nominations must be received at UNESCO on or before 31 March of each year.The nomination is examined by a subsidiary body by May the following year (1st year). The nomination results will be known on November the same year.


    1. ICH in need of Urgent Safeguarding Nomination of elements for inscription in the Urgent Safeguarding List must be submitted using the View Form ICH-01;ICH-07-Instructions; ICH-07-photo
        • This must be prepared according to the Operational Guidelines and instruction. View ICH-07-Instructions
      • Nominations must be received at UNESCO before 31 March of each year.The nomination is examined by a group of examiners in December the same year. The nomination results will be known by November the following year (1st year).


  1. Best Practice MethodologyNomination of programmes, projects and activities that the Committee may wish to select and promote as best reflecting the principles and objectives of the Convention can be submitted using View FORM ICH-03;
      • This must be prepared according to the Operational Guidelines and instructions for inscription. View ICH-03-Instructions.


    • Nominations must be received at UNESCO before 31st March of each year. The nomination for inscription results will be known by November the following year (1st year).


Measures to implement the 2003 UNESCO ICH Convention

Prior to Fiji’s adoption in principle to work towards ratifying the 2003 Convention for ICH, it had in place programmes that are aligned to the ethos of the Convention. These include the inventorying of cultural elements or the indigenous or Itaukei community currently being pursued by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, collection of oral traditions by the Fiji Museum, the establishment of the Multi-Cultural Centres in the various towns around Fiji, the Living Human Treasures Programme piloted by the Fiji Arts Council, traditional skills revitalization workshops, and other implementation measures. It was evident therefore that the Culture Sector in Fiji was thriving with ICH promotion activities.View A brief report on the foregoing substantiates on ongoing activities in the culture sector pertinent to ICH promotion


A National Workshop on the 2003 ICH Convention was organized from the 21st – 22nd May 2008 bringing all ICH stakeholders together in Fiji to learn about the convention, evaluate the relevance of the convention to Fiji, weigh the implications of ratifying the convention and recommend for the ratification of the 2003 Convention. View Report
Institutional Mechanisms

After the ratification of the Convention by Fiji in 2010, measures are currently being put into place to address implementation. One of which is the institutional mechanisms set:

Fiji National Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee

Role Membership

Fiji National Intangible Cultural Heritage Secretariat
The Department of National Heritage, Culture & Arts was approved by cabinet in 2010 to perform the task of Secretariat to the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding ICH.


Rotuma Mapping Project

iTaukei Cultural Mapping Project

An initiative to map cultural resources of the indigenous people of Fiji. The project was developed initially as a partnership between the iTaukei Institute of Language & Culture (Ministry of iTaukei Affairs) and the Department of National Heritage, Culture & Arts in 2003. While the project earmarks the identification of custodians of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture for Fiji’s Draft Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture Decree, it has in many ways supports a key implementation element of the 2003 UNESCO Convention which is the inventorying of elements of the intangible cultural heritage and its associated practitioners – those who still perform, create and make the ICH element a living part of the everyday life of the indigenous community.

Refer to the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs which is the authority on the project.

A toolkit for mapping of endangered ICH in the Pacific was developed by Mr. Sipiriano Nemani, a staff of the Department of National Heritage, Culture & Arts, for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community who also published the book in 2012. View Toolkit


A similar programme is earmarked for another indigenous group in Fiji – the Rotuman community. Considered as one of the most endangered groups in as far global cultural and linguistic survival rate is concerned, the initiative will be facilitated to address identification of ICH elements of the Rotuman community and practitioners for sustainability.


ICHCAP (Korea) Projects


The International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (ICHCAP) which is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre for the 2003 ICH Convention is based in Seoul Korea and is responsible for the visibility of the ICH Convention in the region through information sharing and networking between state parties. This can be achieved through workshops organized, publications, e-communication systems set-up, database and archival facilities developed and so forth.

Fiji, with other Pacific Island nations who are signatories to the 2003 Convention have benefited from the many projects initiated by ICHCAP. Fiji participated in the following projects and is collaborating with ICHCAP for future projects:

  1. ICHCAP Newsletter Article Submission ;View1,2.
  2. Official Visit to Fiji of the UNESCO ICHCAP Director General:The Minister, Permanent Secretary, and Director for National Heritage, Fiji welcomed the UNESCO-ICHCAP Director General Dr. Samuel Lee officially on the 15th of April 2013. The purpose of Dr. Lee’s visit was to:
    1. Explore possible collaborations between ICHCAP and Fiji;
    2. Visit ICH-related institutes and communities in Fiji

    Highlights of the Visit by Dr. Lee:View
    Programme of Visit:View

    Photo Gallery of Visit : View

  3. Sub-Regional Meetings on Information Sharing and Networking in the Pacific:
    1. ICHCAP Sub-Regional Meeting 2010, Fiji;View Report
    2. ICHCAP Sub-Regional Meeting 2011, TongaView Tonga-Fiji PresentationView Report
    3. ICHCAP Sub-Regional Meeting 2012, Cook Islands
    4. ICHCAP Sub-Regional Meeting 2013, Vanuatu
  4. ICHCAP-Fiji Field Survey on ICH & Intellectual Property Issues in Fiji
    The project is part of a regional survey undertaken based on concerns regarding intellectual property issues related to ICH Information building and sharing intellectual property rights and to work together towards a form of legal protection that has been discussed over and over again in many intangible cultural heritage forums.
  5. ICHAP-Fiji Strengthening ICH Database and Disseminating Best Practices of ICH Safeguarding.This is an initiative specifically for Fiji funded by ICHCAP to:
    1. promote safeguarding activities by sharing the Itaukei cultural mapping experience as a best practice reflecting the principles and objectives of the 2003 Convention;
    2. Facilitate the development of a database for ICH for other ethnic goups in Fiji.
  6. Cultural Partnership Initiative (CPI) Programme in the Field of ICH Safeguarding.1st June – 30th November 2013As a result of the visit by the Director General for ICHCAP, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea sponsored the professional/Technical cultural attachment of a staff of the ICH-Culture Sector in Fiji to pursue with ICHCAP Korea (View Application guide).
    The main Objectives of the Programme is:
  • To contribute towards implementing the 2003 Convention through the consolidation of ICH Experts networks;
  • To expand cooperative project partnership among ICHCAP and participating countries and organizations;
  • To strengthen participants’ capacity in ICH safeguarding through participation in the Centre’s Projects.

Duration : 1st June – 30th November 2013; (6 Months)

Location: Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Ms. Kelera Adikakua of the iTaukei Institute of Language & Culture, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs is the first recipient of the programme.

View Report:

View Photo Gallery:


The International Training Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (CRIHAP) is a UNESCO Category 2 Centre based in Beijing China. The Asia-Pacific Centre is responsible for the implementation of ICH Convention in the region through training and capacity building of ICH practitioners, state party officials, communities, and other stakeholders.

Fiji is fortunate to be a recipient of the many programmes initiated by CRIHAP. Some of the past and ongoing initiatives include:

  1. Regional Trainer of Trainers in ICH UNESCO in its efforts to implement the 2003 Convention for ICH at the global level established a programme aimed at strengthening national capacities for safeguarding ICH as part of its strategy for 2011 and beyond. This involved the training of trainers to establish a global network of ICH experts around the world.For the Pacific, a delegate from Fiji attended the Regional Training in China and subsequently become the Pacific Sub-Regional Trainer for ICH. Mr. Setoki Qalubau, formerly a staff of the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs was engaged by UNESCO as the ICH Regional Trainer for the Pacific.(View Workshop Outline)
  2. Sub-Regional Capacity Building on Implementing ICH Convention
        1. Sub-Regional Workshop on Implementation of ICH Convention at the National Level, 2012, China.View Participants Manual.


        • View Report
        • View Photo Gallery
      1. Sub-Regional Workshop on Inventorying ICH at the National Level, 2013, China.

    Unfortunately due to work commitments, no culture official from Fiji was able to attend the above workshop in Chengdu, China.



Through the kind assistance of the UNESCO-Korea Funds in Trust, Fiji was able to pilot the Living Human Treasurers (LHT) Initiative through the Fiji Arts Council which is an implementing agency of the Department of National Heritage, Culture & Arts in 2006 and ended in 2008.

Project Report:
LHT Framework Developed:
Documentary on Fiji – LHT Initiative:

ICH Traditional Skills Revitalization Workshops.

The Department of National Heritage in partnership with the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, Provincial Offices and the Fiji Arts Council had been pursuing skills revitalization workshops to facilitate the transmission of knowledge and skills and also ensure the continuity of the tradition and practice. The workshops are based on the various elements of ICH:

  • Revitalization of Traditional Weaving Skills.
  • Revitalization of Traditional Pottery Skills.
  • Revitalization of Traditional Architectural Skills
  • Revitalization of Traditional Performing Arts Skills
  • Revitalization of Traditional Culinary Art Skills
  • Revitalization of Traditional Carving Skills Simultaneously,through the 6 Multi-Cultural Centres based in Ba, Labasa, Nadi,Nausori,Savusavu,Suva there are programmes in place organized by these centres which assist in the revitalization of art forms of other communities in Fiji.
  1. Tambla Music Class
  2. Harmonium Class
  3. Dholak Class
  4. Yoga
  5. Rotuman Dance
  6. Indian Classical Dance (Katak, Baharata-Natyam)
  7. Rabian Performing Art Class
  8. Kioan Performing Art Class

ICH Exhibitions/Shows/Symposiums

Fiji ICH Exhibitions and Shows Organized

The Department of National Heritage together with its partner agencies organizes and participates in various Intangible Cultural Heritage Exhibitions, Shows, Symposiums and events to enhance, promote and develop ICH implementation:

  • Fiji ICH Exhibitions
  • Fiji ICH Shows
  • Fiji ICH Symposiums/Seminars
  • Fiji ICH Festivals
  • Fiji National Festival 2015


ICH in Education

ICH in the national Education CurriculumThe Department of National Heritage is working with the Curriculum Advisory Services (CAS) to facilitate the development of a National Culture and Education Strategy that will see to the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage elements in the education curriculum. Make reference to Culture and Education Strategy.ICH and Youths are an important agent of transmission of ICH for communities and groups of people.


ICH in The National Education Curriculum

Fiji ratified the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010 after a national consultation was held in Suva Fiji in 2009.

Ratifying a Convention comes with obligations for Fiji and this includes participation as an Observer state Party at the Intergovernmental Committee for ICH meetings by culture officials and at the UNESCO General Assembly by Fiji’s Minister for Education (National Heritage & Culture).

Fiji is working towards nominations for both Urgent Safeguarding and Best Practice Lists under the 2003 Convention.

In the Pacific, the following ICH elements have been listed in the UNESCO ICH Representative List:

  • Lakalaka Performance (Kingdom of Tonga)
  • Sand-drawings (Vanuatu)

In as far as implementation of the 2003 convention is concerned; Fiji is pursuing numerous programmes that enhance the development of ICH at the national level. Some of these were pursued prior to Fiji ratifying the 2003 Convention for Safeguarding ICH.