The 8th Session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Monday, 2nd December, 2013, opened in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan.

Composed of 24 countries and elected by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Intergovernmental Committee, into which Nigeria was elected member in 2012, meets once every year.

Declaring the session formally open, the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, Mr. Artur Rasizade, who on behalf of the oil-rich country’s President, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, welcomed all delegates Baku and expressed his country’s happiness to host the session, noting that Azerbaijan was experiencing a record attendance of over 708 delegates from about 103 countries.

In her remarks via teleconferencing, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, revealed that intangible cultural heritage has helped to douse tensions through dialogue, admitting however that there were challenges facing her organization, which included increasing responsibilities with decreasing funding.

In her contribution, the Secretary of the ICH Convention and Chief, ICH Section, UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Ms Cecile Duvelle, informed that the session’s agenda would be in five languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Azern.

Chaired by the Azerbaijani Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mr. Abulfas Garayev, the Committee is expected to examine the periodic reports of the States Parties on the implementation of the Convention and the current state of the elements inscribed into the Representative List; consider the inscriptions on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; and further select programmes for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices and grant Financial Assistance for Safeguarding Plans.

The Nigerian delegation comprises the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation )NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, the Deputy Director in charge of UNESCO Desk in Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism & National Orientation, Mr. Augustus Ajibola, Acting Director, Office of the Executive Secretary, NICO, Mr. Nelson Ebi Campbell, Head, NICO South-West Zone, Mr. Ohi Ojo, Mr. Ayodele Kehinde of the Nigerian Delegation to UNESCO HQ, and representatives of some UNESCO-accredited NGOs.

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