The Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO in brief:
The Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe came into being in 2008 as it was registered as a non-profit organization in accordance with the Bulgarian legislation.
With Resolution adopted on the 35th session of UNESCO General Conference on October 2009, the Regional Centre is recognized as a regional centre (category 2) under the auspices of UNESCO.
On Novermber 10, 2017 the Director-General of UNESCO – Ms Irina Bokova (2009-2017) and the minister of culture of the Republic of Bulgaria – Mr Boil Banov signed the Agreement regarding the continuation in Sofia (Bulgaria) of the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO. This Agreement is concluded for a period of six years as from its entry into force. The Agreement is ratified by law and promulgated in State Gazette issue № 32 from 13.04.2018.
The Agreement between UNESCO and the Government of Republic of Bulgaria regarding the establishment in Sofia of a Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under auspices of UNESCO ((Category 2) was signed on October 25, 2010 in Paris (France).
On March 16, 2011 Bulgarian Parliament adopted the Law on ratification of the Agreement and then it enters into force.
UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, together with the former Foreign Minister, Mr Nikolay Mladenov, former Culture Minister, Mr Vezhdi Rashidov and the former President of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, acad. Nikola Sabotinov, officially inaugurated on February 20, 2012 in Sofia the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO.
- THE ORGANIZATION
Cofounders of the Sofia Centre are Ministry of Culture of Republic of Bulgaria, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Bulgaria and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
The necessary funds for the running costs of the Sofia Centre are provided by the Bulgarian Government. For this purpose a specific article in the Bulgarian Cultural Heritage Act is amended.
Scope: On the last session of the General Assembly, two new member states from South-Eastern Europe were unanimously and enthusiastically welcomed as part of the Centre. Until today, the Regional Centre has 16 Мember States: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. The scope of the Regional Centre is expected to expand in the forthcoming years.
Mission of Regional Centre Sofia:
- Promote the cooperation in the field of intangible cultural heritage on national, regional and international level;
- Carry out initiatives for safeguarding and popularization of the intangible cultural heritage of the countries in South-Eastern Europe;
Objectives of the Centre:
- Promote the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and contribute to its implementation in the South-Eastern European sub-region;
- Increase the participation of separate communities, groups and individuals in safeguarding intangible heritage in the South-Eastern European countries;
- Enhance the capacity of the Member-States in UNESCO from South-Eastern Europe in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage;
- Coordinate, exchange and disseminate information regarding the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in the sub-region;
- Foster regional and international cooperation for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage;
- Support the efforts for safeguarding of the elements of intangible cultural heritage from the region that are included in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
- Support and assist the countries from the region in the processes of identifying and inventorying the intangible cultural heritage and in developing systems at the national level for recognizing the intangible heritage present in their territories;
- Cooperate with the institutions engaged in studying and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage on a local, national and regional level as well as for establishment of relations between them;
- Support and participate in activities for training of specialists in the field of intangible cultural heritage;
Make efforts for strengthening the cooperation with UNESCO and the respective related institutions in other countries and regions.
Specific functions of the Centre:
- Encourage and coordinate the research of practices of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage elements applied in the South-Eastern European countries according to Articles 11, 12, 13 and 14 of the 2003 Convention;
- Organize training courses with the following scope: the 2003 Convention and its Operational Directives, policies fostering the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage etc.;
- Expand international, regional and sub-regional cooperation through networking with institutions operating in the sphere of intangible cultural heritage, especially those established under the auspices of UNESCO (category 2), in order to coordinate activities, exchange information and knowledge on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, and promotion of best practices
The Regional Centre is guided and overseen by a General Assembly whose personal composition is renewed every four years. It meets in ordinary sessions every year and it is attended by its regular members:
- Representatives of the Member States of the Centre who have expressed interest in being represented in the Assembly;
- A representative of the Director-General of UNESCO;
- Two representatives of the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria (Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) or their appointed representatives;
- A representative of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
- A representative of the Bulgarian National Commission for UNESCO;
- Up to two representatives of any other intergovernmental organizations or international non-governmental organizations;
The General Assembly determines the procedure and organizes the performance of the activity of the Centre, amends and supplements its key documents, examines andaccepts the annual reports, accepts and excludes members of the Centre and decides on the participation of regional intergovernmental organizations and international organizations in the work of the Centre.
In 2016 Ms Zhulieta Sina Harasani, representative of the Ministry of Culture of Albania, was the Chairperson of the General Assembly.
In 2017 Ms Arta Dollani, representative of the Ministry of Culture of Albania, was the Chairperson of the General Assembly.
In 2018 Ms Stavroula Fotopoulou, representative of the Ministry of Culture of Greece, was the Chairperson of the General Assembly.
The Executive Board is executive and monitoring body of the Centre.
It is composed of five natural persons elected for a term of 1 year by the General Assembly among the representatives of its regular members. It has monitoring functions for the implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly and monitors the performance of the Centre’s financial transactions in accordance with the approved budget.
The Executive Director is the managing body of the Centre and organizes the operations of the Centre in accordance with the decisions of the General assembly and the Executive Board.
Executive Director: Ms Irena Todorova