Within the framework of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) that was ratified by Palestine in 2011, the Ministry of Culture and UNESCO National Office for Palestine are drafting the second periodic report on monitoring cultural practices in Palestine, to be submitted to UNESCO in 30 April 2020 as a state party to the Convention, in cooperation with the different concerned ministries, civil society and cultural institutions. Furthermore, UNESCO Ramallah Office and Drosos Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture are leading a study to map of the cultural sector in Palestine to assess the different dimensions of culture specified in the UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators (CDIS) manual, to enhance culture as a tool for sustainable development. Palestine's four-year periodic report (2017) highlights important achievements and challenges in public policy areas to support creativity. One of the challenges highlighted was the lack of capacity, structures and human resources to pursue cultural policy reforms to cope with the rapid globalization, technological development and cultural requirements.
As a solution to the challenges, the Palestinian government is committed to take sustained measures to create awareness among cultural communities about the current cultural trends and creative industries, promote cultural education, train skilled human resources, encourage initiatives and creativity of artists, and enable cultural entrepreneurs to present, sell and market sustainable products, in addition to supporting the improvement of the status of the artists and cultural professionals, including social security issues. The two projects are expected to engage all relevant stakeholders, governmental, non-governmental and private, as well as artists and cultural professionals, to discuss the challenges and opportunities, in addition to cultural policies and measures in Palestine, and to participate in the elaboration of the quadrennial periodic report on Palestine that is due on 30 April 2020. It also involves enhancing participatory, transparent and informed policy-making and monitoring processes and publishing the first study of its kind in Palestine on monitoring the different dimension of culture to sustainable development.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the UNESCO Office for Palestine organised two multi-stakeholder consultations, which brought together over 60 culture practitioners, arts and decision makers, representing the public and private sector that focus on culture, human rights and gender equality on 9 December 2019 in Ramallah and on 11 December 2019 in East Jerusalem. The participants discussed the process of the Quadrennial Periodic Report (QPR) on the implementation of the 2005 Convention and the Mapping of the Cultural Sector and the Culture for Development Indicators in Palestine. The Council of Ministers has issued a decree to form a National Team that will be implementing both projects. The Minister of Culture, H.E. Dr. Atef Abu Seif stressed the importance of the consultation process in preparing Palestine’ second QPR. The consultation meetings included interventions by professionals on cultural policies and the cultural and creative industries in Palestine. A third consultation meeting has been organised in Gaza on 24 February 2020.
A two-days workshop facilitated by Fatin Farhat, member of the 2005 Convention Expert Facility, was organised for the Palestinian national team in charge of drafting the periodic report in Ramallah on 18-19 December 2019. The National team was divided into four core groups to work on each of the four goals of the 2005 Convention: support sustainable systems of governance for culture, achieve a balanced flow of cultural goods and services and increase the mobility of artists and cultural professionals, integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks, and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. A coordinator was assigned in each of the groups by the Ministry of Culture. On the margin of the project, a series of “Create 2030” public talks will be organised to ensure further consultation and awareness raising around the themes of the Convention. Palestine is leading in parallel of the UNESCO SIDA II project the completion of the UNESCO Culture for development indicators, a complementary exercise that will feed the quadrennial periodic report.
With the support of the UNESCO Ramallah Office, the Ministry of Culture of Palestine organised on 30 June 2020 a public presentation of the first draft of the Quadrennial Periodic Report (QPR) on the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The event, which was held virtually due to sanitary measures linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, brought together over 40 culture practitioners, artists and decision makers from different fields, representing the public and private sectors in order to discuss the outcomes of the first draft of the QPR. During his opening remarks, the Minister of Culture, H.E. Dr. Atef Abu Saif stressed the importance of the participatory process of dialogue amongst the different stakeholders and key actors in the cultural and creative field, in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem. The meeting was facilitated by Ms Manar Natour, Director General of Cultural Cooperation and Aid Management and focal point for the 2005 Convention at the Ministry. Her colleague, Mr Khalid Mansour presented the work methodology, the executive summary of the report and ran a review of the projects listed as good and innovative practices implemented both by the public sector and by civil society organisations (CSO). After the presentation, the participants engaged in a discussion on the report highlighting the importance to address women’s participation in the sector, to institutionalize dialogue between public agencies and cultural CSOs, and to propose concrete action plans.
In order to advance the agenda and objectives of the 2005 Convention, ensuring engagement from different stakeholders, discussion and dialogue with the public on different topics, themes and goals of the 2005 Convention, especially in times of crisis, is crucial.
With the occurrence of the COVID-19 crisis, both the public and the independent cultural sector in Palestine have suffered largely on different levels, mainly with the absence of a union or official body that represents independent cultural practitioners, and the several financial challenges the Ministry of Culture is currently facing. This regretful event caused the emergence of a number of demands that require advocacy and lobbying from the official authorities, civil society and the private sector.
As a response, the Ministry of Culture conducted a series of four talks and debates, bringing together decision makers, artists and culture practitioners, focusing on youth, women and art education in times of COVID-19 crisis. The weekly talks have the following titles:
- Future prospects for the cultural scene in times of crisis (22 September 2020)
- Emerging technologies and online artistic forms; celebrating Youth Day (29 September 2020)
- Status of women in the Palestinian cultural field and creative industries (18 October 2020)
- Artistic training and art education