IRCICA’s cooperation with UN agencies

IRCICA’s cooperation with UN agencies is placed within the overall framework of cooperation between the OIC and UN systems. Channels of cooperation between IRCICA and the various UN agencies were determined as their relations developed progressively over the years, with an emphasis on the cooperation with UNESCO, UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation), UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and ITC (International Trade Center). IRCICA regularly participates in the Coordination Meeting of the Leading Agencies of the United Nations System and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and its Specialised Institutions held annually at UN headquarters in Geneva.


IRCICA as a focal point of OIC within the context of UN-OIC cooperation

IRCICA was assigned to be the focal point of OIC for a new UN-OIC priority area entitled “Development of arts and crafts and promotion of heritage. This development took place in consequence of the notable progress made during the Coordination Meeting held in Geneva on 26-28 June 1996. As covered under item 106 of the report of this meeting, IRCICA was assigned to be the focal point of the OIC for a new UN-OIC priority area which aims to develop arts, crafts and heritage. The decision on the “Identification of possible new areas of cooperation” states that the meeting agreed to create a new priority area of cooperation entitled “Development of arts and crafts and promotion of heritage” for which IRCICA was designated to be the focal point of the OIC, and UNIDO the focal point of the United Nations system. Following this development, IRCICA continued to cooperate with the UN bodies in connection with various aspects of its activities.

Cooperation with UNESCO
IRCICA’s relations with UNESCO date back to the very first years of the Centre’s establishment. These relations gradually expanded over the years, as manifested in the assistance and cooperation extended by UNESCO to IRCICA for activities such as symposia and seminars on history of science, crafts, architectural workshops, and other events where IRCICA participated in or contributed to the activities of UNESCO.

Meetings Organised Jointly with UNESCO
Some examples are the international seminar on Arab-Islamic Art and Asia which was organised jointly by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey, UNESCO and IRCICA (Istanbul, 1982) and the international seminar on Woman and Family in Islam, organised jointly by UNESCO and IRCICA (Istanbul, 1985). UNESCO’s contributions to IRCICA’s activities are mentioned in other parts of this book.

Mr. Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO visited IRCICA on 3 October 1995. This was an opportunity to review the cooperation that was in effect and discuss areas of future collaboration. A consultative meeting was held at UNESCO in December the same year, where steps were taken to define specific joint projects. These steps led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, formalising the cooperation between the two institutions.

It was signed on 8 June 1996 by Mr. Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO, and Prof. E. İhsanoğlu, Director General of IRCICA, at a ceremony held at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, in the presence of Mr. Agah Oktay Güner, Minister of Culture of Turkey. Mr. Polat Bülbüloğlu, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan, was also present at this ceremony and he signed a memorandum of understanding with UNESCO pertaining to its cooperation with “Türksoy”, the newly established cultural institution of the Central Asian States. The IRCICA-UNESCO Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up taking into consideration the active cooperation already existing in areas related to Islamic culture, arts and crafts. It underlined the important role IRCICA plays in establishing worldwide understanding of Islamic civilisation, reflecting the image of Islamic culture as a part of world civilisation and bridging the gap between cultures. It draws the framework and lays the foundations to facilitate the implementation of joint projects by the two parties. The two sides agree to consult regularly on matters of common interest in achieving their objectives and coordinating their respective activities, also exchange information on their progress and on projects of relevance with a view to achieving effective coordination. Also, in the interest of their respective activities in the fields of arts, culture and crafts, UNESCO and IRCICA shall seek technical cooperation from each other.

Cooperation with UNIDO
Cooperation with UNIDO evolved around the Centre’s Crafts Development Program. The parties agreed on the necessity of enhancing the implementation of established joint projects. Accordingly, Mr. Moh'd Touri, Director, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Office in Geneva, was invited to participate in the international seminar on Arabesque in Crafts of OIC Countries (Damascus, 1997) where he proposed that IRCICA should initiate a long-term crafts program development process in cooperation with UNIDO, UNESCO, UNDP. It would be conceived within OIC’s interregional framework, based on the experience of the UNIDO project presently under implementation in Africa, entitled “Promotion of traditional textile industry in West Africa: building and upgrading of national capacity in traditional textile and entrepreneurial development”, which is financially sponsored by the Government of Japan. Meanwhile, at a consultative meeting of the representatives of IRCICA, UNIDO, and UNESCO held in 1997, the parties agreed to launch an Inter-Regional Program for Craft Development and devised the project format as follows: to train target groups of OIC artisans and entrepreneurs to improve the quality of traditional wood and textile products, management of micro and small enterprises as well as promoting and marketing arabesque traditional wood work and textile products; adapt, modify, magnify, substitute and combine their creativity for the promotion of the decorative arts such as crafts, as well as the traditional account of the Islamic cultural heritage, in their socio-economic environment, in order to highlight the diversity of cultures. Meanwhile, UNIDO and IRCICA are working together for broadening the scope of the existing crafts development program undertaken by IRCICA, in the following priority areas: a program to train artisans and upgrade the quality of craft products; creation and operation of a database for traditional crafts; organisation of regional seminars for the development of these traditional industries.

Cooperation with UNDP
UNDP extended its cooperation to IRCICA on various occasions, including the training program on the restoration of manuscripts held in 1990 and the architectural workshops held in 1997. IRCICA’s relationship with UNDP also focuses on the promotion of a crafts program for assisting the craftspeople of the least developed countries.