144.The Chairperson invited the Secretary to present the next agenda item.
145.The Secretary explained that document 8 was not an audit but a status report of the current year, recalling that the General Conference had requested a governance audit of UNESCO’s funds, programmes and related entities: the Convention was identified as such an entity. The document submitted to the Committee only specified the various approaches undertaken by the two Chairpersons of the governing bodies of the Convention, namely, the Chairperson of the General Assembly and the Chairperson of the Committee, for the self-assessment of governance by the bodies themselves. Thus, the exercise was launched for both the Committee and the General Assembly and had benefitted from many contributions by States Parties. The final audit would not only based on the self-assessment exercise but had a much broader scope and was conducted by the external auditors. The report would be presented to the Executive Board at its 197th session in the spring of 2015, as well as to the General Conference at its 38th session in the autumn of 2015. The Secretary further explained that the conclusions were not yet known, so the draft decision proposed that the Committee take note of this information, while thanking the Chairpersons of the respective bodies for their work in this regard.
146.Thanking the Secretary, the Chairperson noted that the exercise was still incomplete, adding that he was looking forward to seeing the results of the audit. He then turned to the adoption of the draft decision, and with no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 8 adopted.
147.ITEM 13.d OF THE AGENDA:
EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PREVIOUS DECISIONS OF THE COMMITTEE IN CONNECTION WITH THE INSCRIPTION OF ELEMENTS, SELECTION OF PROPOSALS TO THE REGISTER OF BEST SAFEGUARDING PRACTICES, AND APPROVAL OF REQUESTS FOR INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
148.The Chairperson invited Mr Proschan to present the next agenda item.
149.Mr Proschan explained that this point was introduced in the eighth Committee session in Baku after the Committee had spent a number of days examining all the nominations to the Representative List, the Urgent Safeguarding List, the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices and requests for International Assistance, adding that over the course of the Committee’s life it had taken a number of transversal decisions on nominations. The first occurred during its fifth session in Nairobi, and in Baku in 2013 the question arose as to how previous decisions were being respected by the Committee, the two evaluation bodies and the Secretariat. Thus, in its Decision 8.COM 8, the Committee asked the Secretariat to evaluate the implementation of previous Committee decisions concerning these four mechanisms. The Secretariat began by first distinguishing the formal decisions of the Committee from the recommendations and advice offered by the Subsidiary Body and the Consultative Body. The recommendations were far more numerous, while the decisions of the Committee were relatively few. The Secretariat further concentrated its analysis on the public implementation of the Convention, i.e. what the Committee and the Secretary had implemented, and what the Subsidiary Body and Consultative Body reported in their annual public reports. This meant excluding the confidential deliberations of the Consultative Body and the Subsidiary Body during their proceedings, which remained private unless they chose to bring their discussions to the Committee in the form of a recommendation or draft decision, or in their written reports. The Secretariat did not want to take advantage of the confidential decisions taken in assessing the overall implementation of the Convention and document 13.d was therefore limited to the public record. Mr Proschan remarked that the Committee could corroborate the findings with previous summary records in order to determine whether a fair assessment had been made or not. Document 13.d thus presented, decision-by-decision from the most recent, the Committee’s decisions, as well as the actions carried out to implement each of those decisions.
150.Mr Proschan further explained the findings, in which it was found that whenever specific instructions were given to the Secretariat, i.e. on technical requirements, or what constituted a complete dossier, the Secretariat applied them as consistently as possible. There were also a number of decisions addressed to States Parties that were respected by the States, and therefore they had not presented cases to the Committee that would challenge the Committee’s implementation of those decisions. In several cases the report simply state, ‘the Committee took the decision, States have respected the decision and it has not been tested’. With the Subsidiary Body and Consultative Body, a number of examples were found in which the recommendations to the Committee on specific nominations directly referred to a previous Committee decision. Typically, this would justify a recommendation not to inscribe an element, not to select a best practice or not to grant international assistance. There were thus two specific instances in the public record where the Committee had applied its previous decisions to the letter. The Committee usually, but not always, endorsed the Bodies’ recommendations when those were grounded upon previous decisions; Committee decisions on specific files similarly cite one or another previous decision. Document 13.d also identified a few instances where the Committee disregarded the recommendations of the evaluation bodies and its own previous decisions, deciding to inscribe or refer an element rather than rejecting it, when the Body had recommended that the element should not be inscribed based on prior Committee decisions. For instance, paragraph 9 of the document discussed how the Committee itself had applied Decision 7.COM 11 concerning misplaced information. Moreover, in several cases, the Subsidiary Body reported to the Committee that it had not been able to rigorously apply one of the Committee’s decisions. Typically, when the Subsidiary Body or the Consultative Body reported that it was having difficulty applying one of the Committee’s decisions, it asked the Committee to take the same decision a second time, occasionally in a slightly stronger form. For instance, paragraph 11 of the document reviewed the use of the referral option by the 2013 Subsidiary Body and by the eighth session of the Committee, and that same question is addressed in the report of the 2014 Subsidiary Body. Similarly, paragraph 12 of the document looked at the instructions that the Committee had given about the minimal information required to satisfy criterion R.2, and how the 2013 Subsidiary Body had applied that requirement with a certain flexibility, as stated in its 2013 report. The same requirement was then reformulated in more stringent terms by the Committee in its Decision 8.COM 8, with the 2014 Subsidiary Body report again addressing its frustration in trying to apply the two previous decisions of the Committee. Mr Proschan remarked that document 13.d represented the Secretariat's best effort to review the public record of the Committee and its bodies with the hope that taking stock of its past practices would assist the Committee in its task of examining new nominations, proposals and requests. He noted that when Decision 8.COM 8 was adopted in 2013, the Secretary had explained that the Secretariat could compile the information requested but could not provide a draft decision, as the Secretariat could not propose a qualitative judgement on the Committee’s work. The document therefore only provided a minimal decision, which the Committee might wish to elaborate further following its debates.
151.The delegation of Belgium believed that consistency and credibility go hand-in-hand, and as seen in the report regarding Decision 7.COM 11 on information placed in appropriate sections, the Committee should try to adhere to the rules and precedence created by previous decisions. It proposed to recall and reiterate the previous decisions, Decision 7.COM 7 and Decision 7.COM 11, and to follow those rules. It also noted that a decision had yet to be taken on agenda item 5.a.
152.The Chairperson confirmed that item 5.a would be returned to later.
153.The delegation of Latvia thanked the Secretariat for the evaluation document, acknowledging the importance and usefulness of the continuously updated document on transversal issues, as well as the aide-mémoiredocuments for the completion of nomination files. It recognized the importance of the proposed decision to take note of the impact it will have in further Committee discussions, while reflecting on the way decisions were taken within the Committee.
154.The delegation of Saint Lucia thanked the Secretariat for the interesting document, but mostly it thanked the previous Committee for its courage in having asked for this document, which was a sign of good governance. As said by Belgium, consistency and credibility go hand-in-hand. Decisions and criteria have to apply to States Parties in the same way, but as noted from this document and from previous summary records, it was clear that this had not always been the case. The delegation noted that there was a kind of subjectivity involved in the evaluation of nominations, which the Committee had to recognize. It spoke of certain issues that go deeper than simply applying decisions taken by the Committee, and that there was a real problem with criterion R.2 of the Representative List, which deserved to be debated in the future. The delegation added that the problem with criterion R.2 was more than a misunderstanding by State Parties, and that the entire criterion was not interpreted in line with the Convention, and should thus be revisited at the Committee’s next session.
155.The delegation of Mexico thanked the Secretariat for the evaluation document on the implementation of previous decisions by the Committee, which it considered necessary and important. It concurred with Saint Lucia that each point in the document raised many questions. It also believed that there should be a debate in the future about the Committee’s decisions taken in the past, including the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity that were automatically incorporated in the Representative List, especially with regard to the elements inscribed in 2001, 2003 and 2005, which were not in the same situation regarding inscription. A detailed study was considered necessary, as there were many elements that were better suited to the Urgent Safeguarding List, which thus demanded a more careful and detailed approach.
156.Thanking the Committee Members for their comments, the Chairperson moved to the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections to paragraph 1, it was duly adopted.
157.The delegation of Turkey wished to propose the following wording as a new paragraph 2, which read, ‘Welcoming the Secretariat’s and Subsidiary Organs’ calibrated and sensitive approach regarding uplifting of principles to avoid misunderstandings and tensions among communities by encouraging dialogue and mutual respect among groups, communities and individuals’, with the current paragraph 2 becoming a new paragraph 3.
158.The Chairperson invited Turkey to provide the amendment in writing.
159.The delegation of Belgium welcomed the idea by Turkey but did not believe the amendment was in its right place and proposed to delete it.
160.While waiting for the written text, and before opening the debate on the amendment, the Chairperson turned to the original paragraphs 2 and 3, which were duly adopted.
161.The delegation of Brazil understood Turkey’s intention with the amendment, which it considered a good and important idea. However it felt that it was only emphasizing one aspect among many aspects included in the report. Thus, it was not in its proper place, as the Committee could not single out only one aspect in its decision and disregard all the other aspects. It therefore suggested its deletion.
162.Noting that there was insufficient support for Turkey’s amendment, the Chairperson returned to the original text, and with no further comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 13.d adopted.