ISFAHAN INTERNATIONAL DECLARATION

INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON ISLAMIC ARTS AND CRAFTS, 2002

The participants of the congress:

Knowing of the great richness and diversity of the cultural heritage of the Muslim world in particular and of the world in general,

Realizing the need for the preservation, protection and dissemination of Islamic arts and crafts as a generous heritage,

Realizing the urgency of periodic international meetings and competitions aimed at generating excellence in Islamic arts,

Recognizing the significance of the role played by media channels in the projection and dissemination of the arts,

Expressing appreciation to the government and nation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, particularly to the governorate and people of Isfahan for the warm hospitality extended and arrangements made for the holding of the congress,

Expressing gratitude to the OIC Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), and Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance as well as the Organization of Culture and Islamic Relations for organizing this congress and expressing utmost appreciation for the initiation of IRCICA Crafts Development Program in OIC member states as a main focal point for promoting aspects of arts, crafts and heritage,

And further expressing appreciation to all the paper presenters as well as the artisans who displayed their works during the event contributing significantly to the success of this congress,

Do hereby unanimously agree to the following:

1. Due to the richness of the Islamic cultural heritage in Isfahan city which is considered as an open museum of Islamic arts and crafts, the congress calls for the establishment of Isfahan city museum for ıslamic arts.

2. The congress emphasizes the importance of dialogue of cultures and civilizations which will pave the way for a better understanding of the real value of our culture and in particular Islamic arts and crafts as well as the role played by the artisans. This will lead to more awareness and respect of the world nations for the rich Islamic cultural heritage and will be a deterrent against disrespect for the Islamic culture and sanctities.

3. Expressing serious concerns about the destruction of the cultural heritage in Palestine, the congress condemns the Israeli aggressions against the religious and cultural sites. It calls on the international community, OIC, and UNESCO to perform their duties in stopping these aggressions.

4. The congress appeals to the Member States and concerned financial institutions to extend necessary support to this sector by means of available resources in order to ensure the continuity in creativity and innovation and improve the living standards of the artisans. National economic development plans should integrate promotion of traditional crafts. National governments should take protective measures to help the most qualified artisans to practice and transfer their arts and skills to the new generations. Recognizing the Muslim artisans as living national treasures, the congress call on the OIC to establish a fund to support them.

5. The Congress calls for the establishment of an international center for Islamic arts and crafts with the aim of conducting economical studies about the sector in order to explore new marketing opportunities. The center should also undertake necessary action for preserving the sector through enhancement of a scheme of activities and programs that will improve the qualification skills of artisans by expanding the higher educational centers in the field of Islamic arts and crafts. It should also work for providing the artisans with necessary access to trade fairs and strive for the elimination of customs duties in order to facilitate exchange of artistic works and crafts. Furthermore, they should also assist the artisans in procuring raw materials and reaching marketing channels.

6. The responsibility to ensure the continuity of the traditional arts and crafts cannot be placed on the shoulders of the government alone; every concerned person should also play a role. Only then the survival of the traditional arts and crafts can be assured. Not only the actual or potential “creators” themselves, but also all those exercising responsibility and power, including national and local authorities, should actively and positively contribute to the improvement of the social and economic status of artisans through training and access to credit and market; towards this end, concerned ministries and authorities should assist the setting up of specialized workshops of arts and crafts through encouraging the local and national associations.

7. The congress calls on international organizations to actively support all creative endeavors in the fields of Islamic arts and crafts.

8. Incentive schemes and programs in the form of awards should be enhanced to encourage the creative youth to produce new and innovative works emanating from Islamic tradition; and also approving the proposal of the Islamic Republic of Iran to grant annual awards called the Isfahan Award for Excellence in the Field of Islamic Arts and Crafts in the Muslim World in order to honor the most innovative muslim artisans.

9. Approving and supporting the measures taken by the OIC for encouraging and developing cultural tourism among the OIC countries, which plays a significant role in the spread and dissemination of Islamic arts and crafts in the Muslim world, the congress calls for an increasing participation of the private sector, the tourism sector, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) towards expanding commerce and marketing networks.

10. The congress invites the OIC Member States and allied international organizations to support periodic holding of international meetings and exhibitions, as this will sow the seeds for more developing action towards the promotion of the sector.

11. The congress calls for the establishment of a union of artists of the Islamic world in order to set standards for ensuring the quality of arts and crafts. The congress also call for the compilation of an encyclopedia of Islamic arts as well as a conduction of a kind of coordination and improvement of the media channels, publishing and periodicals concerned with Islamic arts and architecture in OIC countries in order to improve the quality of these products and prosper arts and crafts markets in the Member States.

12. The congress requests the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to circulate this document amongst all the Member States of the OIC and at all relevant fore of the OIC.