1118.The Chairperson presented the next item on other business, opening the floor. However, with no forthcoming comments, the Chairperson moved to the closure of the session.
1119.ITEM 19 OF THE AGENDA:
CLOSURE OF THE SESSION
1120.The Chairperson invited the Assistant Director-General for Culture for his closing remarks.
1121.The Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mr Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán, reminded the Committee that it was his first time attending some of the sessions of the Committee as Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO. He was impressed by the commitment shown by the Members of the Committee, the States Parties, the participating NGOs, and all the participants. He took the opportunity to congratulate the Chairperson, Don Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, for his fine and very prudent leadership in guiding the Committee’s debates. He also congratulated the Namibian Ambassador for her appointment as Chairperson of the next session, and the Egyptian delegate for his election as Rapporteur. The issues discussed by the Committee made it clear, again and again, that intangible heritage was one of the most cherished expressions of humanity. The Assistant Director-General for Culture remarked that we all shared some expression of intangible cultural heritage, as defined by the Convention, and everyone present played a role in making sure that such heritage was kept alive and enjoyed by communities and passed on to future generations. He renewed his firm conviction that more efforts should be concentrated on enhancing national capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, cautioning the States Parties on the danger of feverishly listing intangible heritage. Inscriptions on the Representative List and the Urgent Safeguarding List were of course an important part of the international mechanism of the Convention; however, there was a risk that success in implementing the Convention would be defined by the number of elements inscribed. He insisted that success in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage had little to do with elements inscribed on the two Lists. Our shared responsibility was to make sure that each State Party, whether developing country or not, was endowed with an adequate institutional set-up and expertise for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Greater attention should therefore be paid to enhancing national capacities for establishing or revising policies and legislations in favour of intangible heritage, encouraging communities to identify, document and inventory their intangible cultural heritage as well as to undertake specific safeguarding activities. In this sense, the lists that mattered under the Convention were the inventories. A good inventory was one that was elaborated with the widest possible participation of communities and gave an informative overview in terms of the definition of the element and the communities concerned, and that had an efficient mechanism in place to update it on a regular basis.
1122.The Assistant Director-General for Culture further remarked that the Operational Directives clearly indicated that inventories could take a diverse form according to the situation specific to each State Party, but each State Party had the obligation to elaborate one or more inventories so as to build a solid foundation for long-term safeguarding. He also stressed the complementarity of the 2003 Convention with other normative instruments of UNESCO. Each Convention of UNESCO in the field of culture of course had its own scope and specificities. However, culture and cultural heritage were indivisible with numerous links between built heritage, natural heritage, intangible heritage, movable cultural heritage and expressions of creativity. The ADG understood that there was still a long way to go to ensure a holistic approach to safeguarding and conserving the diverse forms of heritage and creativity. As Assistant Director-General for Culture, he would spare no effort in encouraging more cooperation between the 2003 Convention, the 1972 Convention, and the 2005 Convention along with UNESCO’s other conventions in the field of culture. In this regard, the 70th anniversary of UNESCO in 2015 would be a good occasion to deepen reflection on the larger implications of the 2003 Convention in the context of development and its links with other conventions. In particular, UNESCO was planning to organize a meeting of the chairpersons of the different cultural conventions to exchange valuable experiences and views. Needless to say, contributions from States Parties, permanent delegations, individual experts, NGOs and other stakeholders would be solicited as the intellectual development of the 2003 Convention and the other cultural conventions depended largely on the combined efforts to grasp different aspects of safeguarding. The Assistant Director-General for Culture concluded by thanking the delegates once again for their participation and cooperation, adding that he looked forward to seeing everyone next year in Namibia.
1123.The Chairperson thanked the Assistant Director-General for Culture for his words and for sharing his enthusiasm for the work of the Committee. The Chairperson concurred with his remarks, adding that the Committee should not lose sight of the fact that every decision by the Committee encompassed communities, groups and individuals for whom the viability and continuity of intangible cultural heritage was of paramount importance. The Chairperson opened the floor for final comments from Members of the Committee or observers.
1124.The delegation of Brazil wished to thank the interpreters, the Secretariat, and especially the Chairperson for his excellent conduct of the Committee’s business. It was honoured to have GRULAC (Latin American and Caribbean Group) chairing this excellent meeting.
1125.The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire strongly agreed with the remarks by Brazil, congratulating the Chairperson for the way he conducted the work, as well as the Secretariat for the quality of the services offered. It was very pleased to be working with the current team and was proud that Africa would be hosting the next Committee meeting, congratulating Namibia.
1126.The delegation of Egypt remarked that it was one of the oldest Members on the Committee but each session brought new experiences and lessons with added progress and professionalism. The delegation commended the Secretariat for its excellent work, especially the Secretary, for which she deserved a round of applause. [Applause.] The delegation was grateful for her excellent leadership whose smile always facilitated the procedure, despite the heavy workload. It congratulated Namibia for hosting the next meeting and hoped that the delegates would have the opportunity to see the country, and not just the conference centre and the hotel, particularly as the video had beautifully depicted Namibia’s varied nature and culture.
1127.The delegation of Algeria wished to thank the Committee and the Chairperson for the skill, flair and wisdom of his chairmanship. It also thanked the Secretariat for the quality of preparations, as was common for all the other sessions, as well as all the Members of the Committee for the quality of their work. The delegation congratulated Namibia for hosting the tenth session of the Committee.
1128.The delegation of Belgium remarked that words of thanks might seem a little ritualized, but for the delegations that had spoken it was not the case. The delegation offered its genuine thanks to the Chairperson for the consistent but flexible way he conducted the proceedings, remaining steady at the helm while remarkably supported by the Secretariat whose dedication was boundless, especially the Secretary, despite the increasingly difficult circumstances. The delegation thanked the Committee and all the Vice-Chairs for the joy of spending this year together, as well as pleasure and honour to continue the adventure in Namibia. The delegation thanked all the delegations for their participation in the debates, which were occasionally heated but characterized by great mutual consideration and the desire to continue working together. Finally, it thanked the interpreters, electricians and others who worked behind the scenes.
1129.The delegation of India joined the speakers in congratulating the Chairperson on his excellent leadership throughout the meeting. It also congratulated Namibia for hosting the next meeting and for its chairmanship. Particular gratitude was expressed to the Secretary and her team for organizing the meeting in such a smooth manner.
1130.The delegation of Zambia congratulated the Chairperson on the effective manner in which he conducted the meeting. It also wished to thank the Secretariat for a job well done that was conducted in a professional manner. The delegation congratulated Namibia for hosting the next Committee session, adding that it offered its support as a neighbour. It also congratulated the newly elected members of the Bureau. As an observer, the delegation spoke of how it had learned a lot from the deliberations and the decisions, assuring the Committee that it would return home to share the knowledge with fellow members of the national ICH committee, which would make its work a little easier.
1131.The delegation of Afghanistan remarked that it had forgotten its formalities in omitting to thank Namibia for the role it would play in the implementation of the Convention. The delegation spoke of the Chairperson’s conduct as an example of good organization, noting the very balanced and consistent way of collaboration among the Committee Members. It was also grateful for the opportunity to experience first hand the work of the Secretariat, headed by the Secretary, as well as the members of the Consultative Body and Subsidiary Body. The delegation was now familiar with how decisions were taken, which would offer encouragement in its own bid to inscribe an element in 2015. It spoke of its experience of having truly witnessed the workings of UNESCO, adding that its five days spent there was truly dedicated to one of the main missions of UNESCO, and it was delighted to have been involved. Finally, the delegation thanked the Secretary, Mr Proschan and the Secretariat for the time spent together and for the presence of the Assistant Director-General for Culture.
1132.The delegation of Czech Republic joined its voice in praising the Chairperson for leading this meeting in an efficient manner. It thanked the Secretariat for the perfectly prepared meeting and congratulated the Committee on its wise decisions, as well as those countries whose elements were inscribed on the Lists. The delegation was very happy to witness the amazing improvement made by States Parties in their nominations, noting that there were several examples of elements that were successfully inscribed after a referral in previous cycles. It considered this to be a great success enabled by the wise use of the referral option, which gave States Parties the opportunity to improve their files so they could represent the Convention with dignity and serve as examples of good practice. The delegation wished Namibia success in the organization of next year’s session, as well as all countries working on intangible cultural heritage in their respective countries.
1133.The delegation of Tunisia remarked that the session had enabled it to raise several issues about the Convention and the challenges for intangible cultural heritage. It spoke of how the work had been led with wisdom that allowed the Committee to reach a consensus in a very clear-cut manner. It therefore wished to thank the Chairperson, as well as the Secretariat for its ceaseless efforts. Finally, it thanked the interpreters and Namibia for hosting the next session.
1134.The delegation of Latvia sincerely appreciated the role of extensive debate at the international level experienced during its years within the Committee. It also wished to highlight the significance of the local and national levels in the implementation of the Convention, adding that it believed that these were worth exploring and strengthening. The delegation expressed its appreciation for the continuous debate on the involvement of NGOs in the implementation of the Convention worldwide. It thanked the Chairperson for his commitment in leading the debates and the Committee Members for the exchange of opinions and for reaching common decisions. Finally, it assured the Committee that its duties as a Rapporteur as well as the Vice-Chair of the present session reaffirmed its deep appreciation of all the work carried out by the Secretariat under the thoughtful guidance of the Secretary. This served to reaffirm its commitment to the work of the Committee, and it looked forward to the debates and decisions to be taken during the next session in Namibia.
1135.The delegation of Congo thanked and congratulated the Chairperson for the excellent conduct of his work. It also thanked the Secretary and the Secretariat for the good preparation and smooth running of the Committee’s work. It warmly congratulated Namibia for chairing and organizing the tenth session of the Committee on African soil. Finally, it thanked the members of the Committee, wishing everyone a good trip home, and it wished the Assistant Director-General a good start and every success in his new mission.
1136.The delegation of Hungary joined the previous speakers in congratulating the Chairperson, the Secretary and the Secretariat for their effective and hard work. It thanked Namibia for hosting and chairing the next session.
1137.The delegation of Turkey echoed the remarks of the previous speakers in congratulating the Chairperson on his excellent leadership and the smooth conduct of the meeting in conformity with the spirit of UNESCO’s mandate. It believed that the Committee’s deliberations had contributed to the effective implementation of the Convention, an important component of cooperation within UNESCO. It also thanked the Secretariat for the preparations, and congratulated all the Committee members for the smooth conduct of the meeting. Finally, it congratulated Namibia for hosting the next Committee meeting.
1138.The delegation of Republic of Korea thanked the Chairperson for his excellent leadership, joining the other delegations in congratulating Namibia. It also commended the Secretariat for the smooth organization of this meeting, offering encouragement ahead of more hard work at the next session. The delegation added that it was more than ready to assist the Secretariat. Finally, it addressed special thanks to Egypt for taking its responsibility as Rapporteur seriously.
1139.The delegation of Uganda joined the previous speakers to congratulate the Chairperson for the good work achieved with his entire team that led to a very successful meeting. It also congratulated the Secretariat, not only for organizing the meeting, but also for all the technical support they always offered to States Parties, without whom serious challenges would be raised as far as implementation of the Convention was concerned. It also wished to thank the advisory bodies for their work on the numerous files, without whom the Committee would have been unable to effectively discuss and come up with decisions. It congratulated all the Committee members for the wonderful debates, the exchanges, and for its support in the implementation of the Convention. The delegation congratulated Namibia for accepting to host the Committee’s tenth session, adding that it looked forward to going to Namibia to experience and enjoy its intangible cultural heritage. Finally, it congratulated the elected experts and the NGOs for the enormous challenge they face, which no doubt they would handle very well.
1140.Mr Frank Proschan remarked that it was not normally the case that the Secretariat would offer its remarks at this time, but he took advantage of the fact that this would be the last time he would represent the Secretariat. Mr Proschan wished to add his own words of thanks and gratitude to the team who had worked on the Convention during his eight-year tenure. He explained that he had come to UNESCO in 2006 when the Convention had 32 States Parties, today there were 161, and there were no elements on any Lists, today there were several hundred. In that same time, the Secretariat had gone from 12 professional positions to 8, with the Secretary sharing the difficulties that this presented to those who were trying to cover the work of 18 people with a staff of eight. As stewards and masters of the Convention, Mr Proschan hoped that the States Parties would show one-tenth of the degree of commitment and responsibility that he had seen from colleagues day-to-day over the last eight years. He wished to add his voice of thanks to those he had worked beside, particularly, Ms Cécile Duvelle, and her predecessor Mr Rieks Smeets, under whose direct supervision he had worked.
1141.The Chairperson thanked everyone for their kind words and he congratulated the Committee and all the delegates for the excellent results achieved during this session whose success was the result of their dedication in the spirit of cooperation. He thanked the Bureau members who had assisted him during this session and the 12 months that preceded it. He took the opportunity to thank the Secretary and all the members of her team for the excellent preparation of the session. Before concluding the meeting, he wished to thank the interpreters for their patience, as well as the room clerks and other technical staff for providing the very favourable working conditions. The Chairperson wished everyone a safe return before officially declaring the ninth session of the Committee closed.
1. More information available here.
2. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises the governments of seven original members: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
3. Commemoration feast of the finding of the True Holy Cross of Christ]
4. There are 162 States Parties to the Convention [as of 15 May 2015].
5. 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two Protocols; 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property; 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage; 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; and 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
6. International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO.