30 May to 1 June 2016 summary records of the fifth session of the general assembly unesco headquarters, 2 to 4 June 2014



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Part I of the report (Duties, structure and composition of the Secretariat) also included information on restructuring of the Intangible Culture Heritage Section and, since its publication a month ago, the Director-General had issued an Ivory Note on these changes, as indicated in paragraph 6, with progress made. Of the four former units only two units remained: the Programme Implementation Unit and the Capacity-Building and Heritage Policy Unit. The services formerly provided by the Information and Communications Unit, and many formerly provided by the Governing Bodies and Processing unit would be carried out by the Conventions Common Services Unit; a recommendation emanating from the audit of the conventions, as previously mentioned. Thus, the Common Services Unit would deal mainly with all logistical aspects of the organization of meetings together with all communication and publications, beginning with the new publication of the Convention’s Basic Texts for 2014. The Secretary reminded the Assembly that the Secretariat relied heavily on extrabudgetary personnel: Italy had seconded an expert from 2011 to 2013; Azerbaijan had seconded an expert for four years; China made available another recent secondment for three years; Japan also provided an expert from 2011 to 2014; and Spain financed an associate expert from 2011 to 2014. In addition, the Secretariat was able to fund another position thanks to State contributions to the sub-fund and also thanks to knowledge management support from the Fund the Secretariat was able to benefit from staff especially dedicated to a knowledge management system. The Secretary further informed the Assembly that Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority had just agreed to finance a regional officer for the Arab States thanks to a generous contribution by the United Arab Emirates. Part II of the report (Main activities of the Secretariat in 2012 and 2013) was organized according to the main lines set out in the Convention, starting with a) Ensuring the implementation of the decisions of the General Assembly and the Committee while enhancing the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage. The first part is linked to i) Implementation of international assistance, which in the report explains past decisions in good detail and that once approved, a contract is established with beneficiary States, followed by implementation of activities that occasionally took three years. Part ii) Awareness-raising and communication comprised the publication of brochures presenting the inscriptions in 2010–2011, with updates for those in 2012–2013, which will soon be available online. It was noted that the brochures covered inscriptions over two years in order to save resources and time. The tenth anniversary of the Convention was also a landmark in terms of promotion, and the information document 4.3 provides information on the 166 international and national events that were registered worldwide by States Parties and civil society for the anniversary. The Secretariat was particularly involved in two big events: the Chengdu conference, and the ICH and sustainable development exhibition, with information displayed at UNESCO HQ during the General Conference, as well as leaflets, made possible thanks to the support of Monaco and Turkey. In addition, since the last General Assembly 27 requests for patronage of the Convention had been received with 23 meeting the criteria for approval of which
10 concerned events linked to the tenth anniversary. The Secretary was also happy to inform the Assembly of the success of the video uploads of inscriptions on the UNESCO YouTube channel, which were consistently among the top 10 UNESCO videos viewed every month.

  • The Secretary continued with part iii) Providing guidance on best safeguarding practices and making recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage which sought to promote the best safeguarding practices once selected by the Committee. The first two user-friendly booklets (e-publications) were produced as a brief manual to promote the best safeguarding practices of the Fandango Living Museum of Brazil, and the Education and Training in Indonesian Batik project. Part iv) Coordination with category 2 centres is considered important work. With the last category 2 centre from Algeria approved by the General Conference in November 2013 (covering intangible cultural heritage in Africa) the total number of centres had reached seven. UNESCO had been investing a lot of effort in building cooperation with the centres to ensure their work complemented the work of the Secretariat in supporting the Convention and UNESCO in their respective domains and regions. Annual meetings of all the centres had since been organized to collectively share knowledge and experiences. An annual meeting was held at the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe in Sozopol, Bulgaria last July with the second meeting to be held in Paris on the Friday after the end of the General Assembly. It was expected that the category 2 centre coordination meeting would be held in Paris according to General Assembly years and that one of the centres would host the next global meeting the year after.

  • The Secretary then introduced the second part of the Secretariat’s work –
    b) Strengthening national safeguarding capacities – which had four components:
    i) Developing training content and material; ii) Developing and strengthening a network of expert facilitators; iii) Delivering capacity-building activities to beneficiary countries; and iv) Monitoring and evaluation. The Secretary explained that all capacity-building activities had been made possible thanks to extrabudgetary support. The few funds available in the Regular Programme were, for the most part, to ensure that the statutory meetings took place. For part i) Developing training content and material, the Secretariat had developed materials that covered ratification, implementation of the Convention at the national level, community-based inventorying, and safeguarding in general. Other material was also being developed on intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development in the broader sense that not only included environmental aspects but also health, social welfare, food security, disaster risk prevention and so on. In addition, the Secretariat was developing practical guidance on how to integrate gender perspectives in inventorying and safeguarding, as well as testing a participatory simulation game aimed at strengthening skills needed to elaborate safeguarding plans. The Secretariat was also continually updating existing material, for example any changes in the Operational Directives adopted by the Assembly would be reflected in the material used to train trainers. Interestingly, feedback given by the trainees and trainers would be used to improve the user-friendliness and adaptability of the material so that it could be adapted to specific country contexts. Continuing with part ii) Developing and strengthening a network of expert facilitators, the Secretary explained that there were currently 79 trainers throughout the world all experts in the field of intangible heritage but also specifically trained in using the developed material and fully aware of decisions by the Committee and General Assembly in terms of guidance. Of the 79 trainers, 43 were from Africa and 40 per cent women. African trainers accounted for a large share because Africa was a UNESCO priority and given priority in the number of activities undertaken, which was why more trainers were needed. The Secretariat provided continuous liaison, backstopping, and upgrading and updating of skills and knowledge to all trainers. A recent example occurred in the Arab region where, with support from the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and hosted by the Government of Kuwait, a meeting was held with all regional facilitators where they were kept abreast of the latest issues. The same meeting also took place in Latin America in September 2013, hosted by the category 2 centre CRESPIAL, to assess and upgrade information, skills and knowledge of trainers in Latin America. The network was also strategically expanding through the training of trainers at regional and national levels. In this way, countries that had already benefited from a first phase of training could enter phase 2, which involved training of trainers within their own country, thereby decentralizing knowledge nationally. The Secretariat also organized specific training activities. A recent example involved two training sessions for L’Ecole du Patrimoine Africain in Porto Novo, Benin. One session covered general implementation of the Convention, while the other focused on inventory-making with community based participation. It was interesting to note that L’Ecole du Patrimoine Africain was a school that trained on tangible heritage, though it had a broad network of intervention so was important to have them onboard. Other examples included a similar session in Mozambique and a mentoring activity in the Pacific and Namibia on training of trainers. This form of training expansion was effective because it decentralized and targeted the knowledge base, as the goal was not to have 200 trainers at the international level, which would have been unmanageable for the Secretariat.

  • The Secretary then introduced part iii) Delivering capacity-building activities to beneficiary countries. She explained that the Secretariat was more involved with the mobilization of funds and the planning phase, whereas the actual implementation of these projects were followed up by colleagues in UNESCO’s regional offices. Thus, all funds allocated to support this capacity-building were decentralized to field offices for the implementation of projects. To date, 62 countries already benefitted from this capacity-building, of which
    20 were in Africa, 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, 15 in Asia and the Pacific, and
    8 in the Arab States. Furthermore, other regions such as Europe had also benefited from self-funded activities where, for example UNESCO provided support to organize training in Norway and soon in Monaco. This was seen as a good sign as this proved that both the system and the materials were efficient and appreciated by all, and not only for developing countries. The Secretary made reference to Figure 2 (page 8) in the report that mapped out the beneficiary regions and countries. The Secretary further explained that the typical training sequence started with a needs assessment. The Secretariat could not enter into a phase of capacity-building without first understanding the situation of the country, especially as capacity-building activities were not ready-made to fit all contexts. Thus, a two, three or four-month needs assessment would be carried out so that the right programme of workshops could be put together to provide the necessary technical and ongoing support, usually beginning with a five-day workshop on implementation of the Convention. It was important to note that capacity-building activities were conducted at the specific country or national level as needs varied enormously from one country to another. Attendees included a number of stakeholders, culture ministry representatives, NGOs, the media, representatives from other ministries, community representatives and so on; all of whom understood the implications of the Convention and its obligations and rights. This would be followed by the revision and integration of policies, legislation and institutional infrastructure, if required, which would be a more consultancy-based activity taking between 20 to 30 months followed by a workshop on community-based inventorying a few months later (usually 9 to 10 days) that involved field practice capacity-building. Attendees would include those in charge of the inventory at the national level together with community members, as community-level participation was required for inventorying. With funds permitting, the Secretariat would undertake a 6 to 12month project on inventorying so that the country could put the learning into practice. Once the inventorying was understood, the Secretariat – if requested to do so – would then conduct a workshop on how to elaborate nomination files to the Lists. It was important to note that work on an inventory – in line with the Convention – would be established first as this was a prerequisite to the submission of a nomination. This final phase was the overall evaluation of the project. The average length of training was between 18 months to 36 months. The Secretary was happy to inform the Assembly that the United Arab Emirates had just approved, in addition to a secondment of personnel, a needs assessment in four countries in Africa: Comoros, Djibouti, Madagascar and South Sudan, and four in the Arab Region: Egypt, Palestine, Sudan and Yemen. Thus, 8 countries would soon enter the first phase of a full programme of capacity-building. The Secretary further explained that, as requested by the IOS evaluation, greater attention would be given to policy aspects of the Convention with a more prominent place in workshops given to individual policy consultation. Referring to Figure 4 (page 10) in the report, the Secretary reported on the evolution of themes treated (ratification, implementation, inventorying and nominations) from 2011 to 2013. It was noted that in the early years, the majority of capacity-building activities concerned implementation of the Convention with a small demand for inventorying and ratification. In 2012, there was a lesser need for ratification but still a lot of implementation at the national level and some inventorying coupled with the start of nominations. In 2013, many countries had already benefitted from the implementation workshop and were, therefore, in need of support in inventorying, and increasingly on nominations. The Secretary expressed hope that in 2014 or 2015 there would be an increasing demand for policy advice from all States Parties.

  • With regard to point iv) Monitoring and evaluation, the Secretary recalled that the IOS evaluation had requested the Secretariat to strengthen this aspect as there was an absence of a real assessment framework and indicators to help measure the impacts of training on the ground, even in the longer term, i.e. the situation two or three years after the capacitybuilding training. Thus, the task for the current biennium would be to put in place a results-oriented system of monitoring and follow-up evaluation to gather data about the effectiveness and impact of the capacity-building strategy. The Secretariat was also involved in point v) Mobilizing resources for the implementation of the capacity-building strategy. Moreover, document 7.2 Rev provided the names of the States Parties that had voluntarily contributed to the Fund since the last General Assembly, which were contributions in addition to the mandatory contributions to the Fund, as well as other States Parties that signed bilateral Funds-in-Trust. The Secretary took the opportunity to thank the contributing States Parties for their contributions, without which none of these activities would be possible. It was noted that the Fund was also supporting capacity-building in the line ‘other functions of the Committee’ (under item 7 Use of the resources of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund), which covered global or regional activities, such as the elaboration of material, translation into different languages, and so on.

  • Moving on to part c) Preparing the documentation of the General Assembly and of the Committee and ensuring the effective organization of their statutory meetings, the Secretary explained that the ongoing work was not only about organizing meetings but also ensuring that all decisions of the General Assembly and Committee were implemented. It followed the overlapping cycles of nominations from submission to treatment, evaluation to examination and inscription to dissemination – a process that covered several years. Moreover, documentation for the General Assembly was made available in six languages, and the Committee in two languages, with the Secretariat treating nominations, reports and requests. It was noted that the Secretariat had more than 370 active files under treatment that included not only nominations but also backlog files, accreditation requests, periodic reports, financial assistance requests, and so on. Despite the large numbers of active files, the Secretariat managed to overcome difficulties largely thanks to the knowledge management system supported entirely though extrabudgetary funds and primary through the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. The Secretariat would continue to provide improved functionalities, i.e. personalized online access that allowed States Parties to closely follow the progress of their ongoing files, better visibility of international assistance granted and even the possibility of submitting international assistance requests online. This work was in addition to the logistical organization of around 16 statutory meetings per biennium that included the General Assembly, the two Committee meetings, the Bureau meetings, the Subsidiary Body and Consultative Body meetings, the working groups, and so on.

  • Finally, the Secretary introduced Part III: Conclusion and prospects, noting that the IOS evaluation had considered the partnership of the Secretariat with members of the Committee, States Parties and the many stakeholders concerned to be at the core of the standard-setting work of the Convention. The Secretariat’s work was considered to be of high quality and its services much appreciated by States Parties. Nevertheless, the responsibilities conferred to the Secretariat exceeded the financial and human resources at its disposal, which was well known, such that expectations had to be recalibrated to capacities, even if it meant having to make difficult choices. It was interesting to note that 83 per cent of the resources available through regular or extrabudgetary funds were allocated to capacity-building with only 17 per cent of resources invested in the organization of the statutory work of the Convention. The Secretary concluded by saying that she hoped the capacity-building strategy, of which many people were involved, would help every State and every stakeholder to implement the Convention and, therefore, safeguard intangible cultural heritage.

  • The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for her work and her comprehensive overview of the many responsibilities and achievements of the Secretariat. He recognized the commitment and dedication of her staff who were being called upon to do more and more, and hoped that in discussions over the following days, the Assembly would keep in mind resources available for implementation of the Convention and the need to adapt expectations. Indeed, even though the number of extrabudgetary donors had stepped forward to support, in particular, the capacity-building programme, UNESCO’s Regular Programme budget had declined. The IOS audit was also a reminder that the current situation was unsustainable as support from the Regular Programme was decreasing, yet the workload of the Secretariat was increasing. This was far from being an ideal situation, least of all for the Secretariat. The Chairperson acknowledged the fine work, as summarized in the report, adding that year-after-year the Secretariat continued to show its wholehearted commitment to the goals and values of the Convention and the needs of States Parties and communities around the world. The Assembly, therefore, needed to be proud of the progress made so far of the capacity-building programme and the financial assistance afforded to countries in need. He concluded that great work had been done but that there was still more to do in the future.

  • The delegation of the Republic of Korea appreciated the excellent work by the Secretariat in promoting and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It especially noted the efforts taken by the Secretariat to enhance national safeguarding capacities such as developing training materials and strengthening the network of facilitators. It hoped that the table of regions presented earlier would be taken into account in identifying experts.

  • The delegation of Norway congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and expressed its satisfaction with the evaluation report by the IOS presented in 2013. The report had confirmed its impressions of the work developed during the short history of the Convention. Its major achievement was the significant broadening of the international discourse on the definition and meaning of cultural heritage. Furthermore, the work of the Secretariat had been of high quality, and transparent regarding processes related to the different constituent tasks of the Convention. The delegation took note of the observations by the IOS that the relative importance of the Representative List was overrated, representing a huge workload on the Committee and the Secretariat. Conversely, the other mechanisms such as the Urgent Safeguarding List, the Register of Best Practices and international assistance were underutilized. It, therefore, strongly supported the IOS recommendation for a better balance between the different mechanisms of the Convention. It also took note with satisfaction the positive evaluation of the global capacity-building programme and the network of qualified experts, adding that the capacity-building programme constituted the most successful achievement in the 10-year history of the Convention. The lessons learned being that when implementing international normative instruments such as conventions, strengthening the capacity of States Parties needed to be at the core of its activity. However, the IOS report underlined an important but neglected task, that there was no systematic monitoring mechanism in place that allowed UNESCO to follow participants months after their attendance at a workshop. The delegation thus supported the recommendation for a robust results-oriented system of monitoring, follow up and evaluation in order to obtain data on the effectiveness and impacts of the strategy, and to identify opportunities for improvement. The ultimate goal of the Convention was to ensure a real and lasting impact by States Parties in their efforts to establish a favourable framework and conditions for intangible cultural heritage.

  • Congratulating the Chairperson on his election, the delegation of Namibia also highly appreciated the Secretariat’s effort to strengthen the capacity of States Parties, particularly developing countries, to enable them to effectively implement the Convention at the national level. Much had been achieved but more needed to be done as many countries were being faced with enormous challenges to implement the Convention though it trusted the Secretariat to step up its efforts to reach out to all States in need of capacity-building. The delegation was glad to note the four areas of focus of the capacity-building:
    i) ratification; ii) implementation of the Convention at the national level; iii) preparation of inventories; and iv) elaboration of nominations. Nevertheless, all three reports presented to the General Assembly pointed to a number of challenges, with the periodic reports and international assistance requests appearing to top the list. It was noted that only
    20 per cent of periodic reports were admissible, and only 15 out of the 37 international assistance requests submitted had been approved. The question was whether some of these challenges were covered by the capacity-building exercise. If not, could they be made part of capacity-building? With regard to the network of 79 expert facilitators, the delegation agreed that they were doing a great job but clearly there were not enough facilitators to face the challenges encountered by States Parties. Experience showed that the expert facilitators were sometimes unable to respond in a timely manner to the capacity-building needs of States. Referring to paragraphs 28 and 29 of the report, the delegation noted efforts to decentralize capacity-building at national level but was uncertain about the number of States ready for the next phase when they still needed the services of their expert facilitators. It, therefore, asked whether there would be a possibility of increasing the number of expert facilitators in the foreseeable future.

  • The delegation of Bulgaria congratulated the Chairperson on his election, as well as the members of the Bureau and the Rapporteur. It recognized that the growing number of ratifications was proof of the Convention’s relevance, as well as the positive effects implementation brought to the communities, not only in terms of safeguarding but also by increasing possibilities for sustainable development. The delegation supported the comments made by Norway in reference to the IOS report of 2013 on the need for a better balance between the three mechanisms, namely the Representative List, the Urgent Safeguarding List and the Best Safeguarding Practices. While there had been some progress in the submission of nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List, there appeared to be a decline in nominations to the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices. In its view, sharing best practises increased the capacity of countries to better implement the Convention. Nevertheless, after four years of capacity-building activities by the Secretariat, the Assembly should be satisfied with the results achieved made possible thanks to the hard work and commitment of the Secretariat. In this regard, the delegation offered its wholehearted thanks to the Secretariat for its dedication and hard work citing the IOS report – ‘the work of the Secretariat is considered to be of high quality’. States Parties rightly considered the Secretariat to be professional, efficient and responsive, despite its lack of resources which limited the number of nominations and proposals that could be processed, as well as other activities. The delegation noted that the network of experts had been put in place to help States Parties improve their safeguarding performance, and it was satisfied that the Secretariat was broadening support by developing material in the areas of sustainable development and gender. At the same time, support for policy and legislative development should not be underestimated, and it was encouraged that the Secretariat was also working in that direction. Finally, the delegation believed that category 2 regional centres had a crucial role to play in capacity-building through regional cooperation and information-sharing. Thus, the decision to convene global meetings organized by these centres was a step in the right direction. The delegation spoke of the commitment of its government to support the capacity-building efforts and to engage in the process of safeguarding, including support for the Secretariat.

  • The delegation of Austria congratulated the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for the preparation of the informative documents and for its very comprehensive presentation. It welcomed the Secretariat’s efforts to put in place its global capacity-building strategy to assist States Parties in creating a favourable environment for the sustainable safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. It was impressed to hear that 83 per cent of the very limited resources were allocated to capacity-building, and it appreciated the immense effort to develop training materials and the network of 79 expert facilitators, which although possibly not enough could address specific regional and country needs. Nevertheless, the delegation wondered whether there was an intention to extend the network by training more expert facilitators, though it appreciated the very difficult financial situation, adding that it would be a great stimulus for many States Parties to have an expert trained nationally in order to spread the word further.

  • The delegation of Bangladesh commended the Secretariat for its efforts to advance the objectives of the Convention despite the fact that it had to meet its diverse responsibilities with limited human resources. It felt that all aspects of the work currently carried out by the Secretariat were important and that there was hardly any flexibility in granting one priority at the cost of another. In particular, the delegation did not wish to see the emphasis on capacity-building diminish. Given the financial constraints facing UNESCO, there was a need to support the Secretariat through increased extrabudgetary resources to secure and, if possible, enhance human resources. In this regard, it expressed sincere thanks to the States that had made significant extrabudgetary contributions to support the Secretariat.

  • The delegation of Guinea congratulated the Chairperson and the members of the Bureau, as well as the Secretariat for its substantial work done in preparing for the session. Regarding training, it appreciated the efforts made by UNESCO in this regard, but sought more emphasis on training in the differences between the various conventions, particularly as these tools formed the foundation of their work. Moreover, as long as legal instruments were not fundamentally understood by economic and cultural stakeholders in the public and private spheres then difficulties in providing reports would continue. The delegation was of the opinion that such fundamental work should be carried out by trainers in the field, adding that although 79 trainers was a good start it was still inadequate.

  • The delegation of China congratulated the Chairperson on his election and thanked the Secretariat for its work including the very comprehensive report adding that despite its limited resources it had accomplished a great deal to facilitate implementation of the Convention. Moreover, the Secretariat had played an important role in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, particularly in its cooperation with category 2 centres. The delegation wished to see the category 2 centres develop and flourish throughout the world so that a greater number of countries could benefit from them.

  • The delegation of Czech Republic congratulated the Chairperson on his election and thanked the Secretariat for its excellent and detailed report. It drew particular attention to the information accessible on the Convention website on two of the Best Safeguarding Practices, adding that this was an excellent initiative for the promotion of the Register of Best Practices, which – in its opinion – should be at the heart of the Convention. In this regard, it wondered whether the NGOs would be able to participate in the online initiative, as they would appear to be the ideal partner for such a task.

  • The delegation of Congo congratulated the Chairperson on his election, as well as the Bureau members. Having read the Secretariat’s report on its activities, the delegation spoke of its admiration for the excellent work carried out by the Secretariat despite the very limited resources. It suggested, however, that in addition to its work at the regional level the Secretariat plan its activities at the level of the State Party, adding that it regretted that capacity-building did not reach all countries, including the Congo even though it was in great need.

  • The delegation of France began by congratulating the Chairperson on his election, as well as the Secretariat for the outstanding summary of its activities conducted in the last two years under difficult circumstances. The delegation fully supported the remarks, analysis and observations made by Norway.

  • The delegation of Hungary congratulated the Chairperson on his election and for the considerable work he had done so far for the Convention. It also congratulated the Secretariat for its fair, supportive, transparent and professional work and goodwill in the last two years, and supported and praised the report. The delegation especially supported and valued the work in capacity-building, adding that it had been part of the capacity-building work and process in the past and intended to strengthen its support to the work worldwide. The delegation felt that fair representation and visibility of the wealth of intangible cultural heritage of all countries offered real protection that would eventually make the Convention a useful instrument for all.

  • The delegation of Oman congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and the Secretariat for its excellent and comprehensive report with regard to capacity-building, category 2 centres, and so on. It spoke of the number of workshops that had been organized in the Arab States dedicated to training and capacity-building, with the Secretary notably attending the workshops in Doha and Kuwait, as well as in other Arab States. The delegation hoped that together with ALECSO in Muscat there would be other capacitybuilding workshops and training sessions organized in addition to the one in the Sultanate of Oman in September 2014. It hoped that this would develop not only in the Gulf cooperation area but also within other States and at the local level, as funding often came from individual countries. It suggested setting up a capacity-building programme that could be adopted by regional organizations, which could then be used by any interested country within the region, while taking into account the needs and context of each region. This could be implemented with regard to the various articles of the Convention but also in the sharing of best practices.

  • The delegation of Kyrgyzstan congratulated the Chairperson on his election and also the Secretariat for its report on its multidimensional activities. Kyrgyzstan in particular, and Central Asia as a region had benefitted a lot from the capacity-building programme and was beginning to see results. It suggested the Secretariat consider the next level of capacitybuilding for regions such as Central Asia. With respect to the previous reports, which were interlinked, the delegation wished to know whether the new priority areas such as gender equality and the connection between intangible cultural heritage and education and youth had been incorporated in the activities between June 2012 and June 2014.

  • The delegation of Mexico also wished to congratulate the Chairperson on his election, as well as the Secretariat for its excellent work, including its report. With regard to regional cooperation, the delegation understood that capacity-building had to take the specific characteristics of each country into account but that it would also be interesting to further explore the dimension of regional cooperation as some regions shared certain challenges.

  • The delegation of Uruguay congratulated the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for the quality of its work in general and presentation of the report on its activities. It stressed the important role of the facilitators’ network, the capacity-building programme and the Secretariat’s collaboration with countries in preparing nominations and periodic reports and emphasized the benefit of gaining experience from other States Parties regarding application and visibility of the Convention. The delegation also considered important the participation of civil society in different aspects related to the Convention, as well as the responsibility of government authorities.

  • The delegation of Latvia congratulated the Chairperson on his election and expressed its full support of the Secretariat for prioritizing its workload and assuring quality work while remaining attentive to the process of implementation of the Convention. It also welcomed implementation of the capacity-building strategy, which adapted to the local needs of States and communities, that was a major focus of funding. It believed that the capacity-building strategy had an impact on the activities of States in elaborating national policies for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Recently, the evaluation of UNESCO’s standardsetting instruments, including the 2003 Convention, had been widely debated and it believed that the same interest should be applied to legislative decisions taken at the national level. It explained that a comparative examination of the existing and developing legislative practices at national level should receive greater attention in the future. The role of capacity-building at regional level should also be highlighted, particularly with a view to the development of multinational nominations, which was an important tool for fostering cooperation among States Parties. Finally, it expressed hope that a growing number of multinational nominations would be received in the future, thus playing witness to the spirit of the Convention and the importance of international cooperation in its implementation.

  • The delegation of Syria congratulated the Chairperson and the members of the Bureau on their election, as well as the Secretariat for its excellent work especially on the very substantial report. The delegation spoke of UNESCO’s decision to make intangible cultural heritage one of its priorities, and gave the example of the recent conference on Syrian intangible cultural heritage that took place on 21 May 2014 in cooperation with the EU with a focus on protecting Syrian heritage under the current crisis. As had been said many times, intangible cultural heritage in Syria might well be a factor in reconciliation among the peoples of Syria. Despite the crisis, the Director-General for Antiquities and Museums of Syria was involved in the international day of intangible Syrian heritage where a number of workshops had been organized, and which called upon and urged civil society to protect intangible cultural heritage, inviting a number of influential individuals to work with the government. Moreover, the delegation had in fact already started working on a project that would lead to inventorying intangible heritage in Syria, and it thanked the Secretariat and the Committee for extending support to the project.

  • The delegation of Italy began by congratulating the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for the quality of its work and completeness, synthesis and clarity of its documents. With respect to awareness-raising and communication, the delegation believed that this area of work was of the utmost importance, particularly with regard to the sensibilization of communities on the importance of the Convention and the activities related to safeguarding and capacity-building in the field. It also believed that the network of expert facilitators was an extraordinary tool that deserved to be supported as it involved local communities – the primary actors and bearers of the heritage the Convention sought to protect and promote. The delegation hoped that the Secretariat would find the necessary resources to do this and encouraged the Secretariat to continue its efforts in this regard.

  • The delegation of Netherlands congratulated the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for its excellent work. It also saw the capacity-building programme as a very important achievement and fully supported the remarks of Norway. As recommended in the evaluation of IOS it agreed that it was very important to develop a monitoring system to determine whether all the efforts of the capacity-building programme led to structural results in implementation of the Convention and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. It, therefore, welcomed the development of a robust results-oriented system of monitoring. It also believed that sharing good and best methodologies of safeguarding was very important, with best practices fully accessible to all States Parties.

  • The delegation of Morocco congratulated the Chairperson on his election and chairmanship and the Secretariat for its significant and highly detailed report on its activities over the past two years, particularly with regard to capacity-building to enable States Parties to implement the Convention as effectively as possible and under the best possible conditions. The capacity-building programme, as implemented by the Secretariat, was indeed important and significant with positive implications, as previously mentioned. It hoped that other UNESCO conventions such as the 1970 and 1972 Convention might enjoy benefits of the programme and draw inspiration from it. The delegation added that bearer communities had to be put in a position to contribute even more actively towards promoting and safeguarding their heritage, both tangible and intangible.

  • The delegation of Algeria congratulated the Chairperson on his election, as well as Bureau members. Having listened to the report with interest, the delegation spoke highly of the Secretariat’s active, consistent and focused work towards implementation of the Convention. It spoke of the category 2 centre in Algiers dedicated to Africa for all people of Africans, adding that the centre was ready to contribute actions in favour of the Convention, including contributing to capacity-building activities in 2015 and 2016. The centre was also at the disposal of the Convention for activities related to the inventorying of African intangible heritage and all other activities tasked by UNESCO.

  • The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran congratulated the Chairperson and Bureau members on their election. It also thanked the Secretariat for its active work, fully aware of the efforts deployed. The delegation asked if videos of meetings and workshops organized by category 2 centres and others could become available for stakeholder benefit and if workshops could be online so experts could conduct training in their own countries to reduce costs and increase capacity.

  • The delegation of Turkey congratulated the Secretariat for its very detailed report, which was an important step in the next stage of the Convention. It wished to draw attention to the value of national inventories for developing countries as the first step in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage on a broad level inviting the Committee to encourage developing countries to prepare or complete their inventories.

  • The delegation of Colombia also congratulated the Chairperson and Bureau members, as well as the Secretariat on its great work. With reference to the remarks by Norway and the Netherlands, it also recommended that there be a second advisory stage with regard to capacity-building, adding that the first phase was akin to sowing seeds in the different countries. Now it was time to fertilize and water the seeds for which some countries would need greater support. Hence Colombia’s suggestion to develop an advisory service for capacity-building as this would have a multiplier effect, reaching out to the various regions with their wide diversity of heritage, and which called for specific activities in implementation of the Convention. The second advisory phase would also help overcome difficulties identified in the evaluation, notably the imbalance between the various Lists.

  • The Chairperson invited the Secretary to respond to the observations, remarks and suggestions.

  • Given the remarks, questions and expectations, the Secretary noted that it was clear that delegations had carefully read all the documents. The first major issue had been expressed by Namibia, and supported by many delegations, regarding the wish for more trainers, which would facilitate their mobilization to service States. The Secretary conceded that facilitators tended to have full agendas and it was often difficult to find a suitable date. She explained that steps were being taken to remedy the situation, beginning in China at the end of August at a meeting with all current and new facilitators. However, she cautioned against the desire to expand the network to unmanageable numbers, adding that it was important to have the right balance as all the facilitators had to be regularly updated, which meant keeping them informed about new updates but also being available for their feedback. A thousand facilitators, for example, would be untenable. Nevertheless, she underlined that the questions had been heard and were being addressed. The Secretary also made the distinction between trainers – those that could be considered ‘international’ and ‘national’ experts. International experts trained trainers in their country but also in their region or outside their region. Interestingly, it had been observed that trainers were often less respected and appreciated at home than abroad, and that training outside their country proved to be very effective. The national experts were also heavily relied upon. During their training sessions, international trainers were asked to identify those particularly enthusiastic and dynamic to undertake national trainers’ tasks. The Secretary made clear that national trainers were not at all considered as second-level experts. The distinction was made simply as a result of their geographic field of action. Both had the same knowledge and skills but national experts were not required to master several languages for example, and their primary focus would be training at the national level, as was the case in Namibia for instance. Nevertheless, some experts might be mobilized at the sub-regional level. Moreover, needs at national level were very diverse as training at the ministerial level was not the same as training in cities and regions, hence the difficulty in understanding needs at national level. At regional level, one might find common needs but they could also be very different. In previous meetings in Kuwait and Qatar, for example, the regional level was found to be very useful and important as it helped to create networks of people who in the future might establish cooperative relationships without UNESCO, much in the same way as intergovernmental meetings added value in the process of cooperation, which was instilled as delegates met and discussed issues. Thus, the regional or sub-regional nature of capacity-building was different from the national level, with the regional level addressing the main principles, while national capacity-building could be more tailored to local needs. In addition, there were seven category 2 centres that had regional mandates, performing the function of facilitating regional cooperation. Notwithstanding the different levels, capacity-building was not generic and was carefully adapted to specific national and subnational needs. For example, among the 25 to 30 people trained as national leaders, capacity-building activities would concentrate on specific regions and their local stakeholders. Thus, the number of facilitators would eventually expand both nationally and internationally.

  • With regard to Namibia’s question of capacity-building on periodic reporting, the Secretary explained the Secretariat provided individualized support by sending a letter to the State concerned with advice and a checklist to explain what had to be done based on the submitted report. The Secretary understood that a State Party might feel awkward not knowing how to begin writing a periodic report, which was why the Secretariat sent the letter a year in advance to help States with the process. Moreover, the reports submitted every year were translated in two languages, which should help those with reports to complete. The Secretary suggested that in these early cycles, the Assembly could consider training, much in the same way as the 1972 Convention, but that the real problem was that State Parties were concerned they had not achieved all that they set out to do. The Secretary explained that it was highly unlikely that a State Party would be able to carry out policy legislation changes, finish its inventory, create numerous NGOs, and so on, within the space of six years. Occasionally, a State Party was reluctant to write the report because it did not have good news to report. However, this was not the spirit of the report, it was a monitoring report to enable the State to check its progress over the past six years since ratification. Moreover, ratification essentially pushed the majority of States to consider nominations, but over time, the majority of States would realize – probably through capacity-building – that there were many more aspects involved in implementation of the Convention other than submitting nomination files.

  • With regard to regional distribution of activities posed by the Republic of Korea, the Secretary explained that the Secretariat was as fair and balanced as possible in the activities it conducted. She reminded the Assembly that the activities depended on donors that often had regional preferences, and that the Secretariat adapted to the conditions, to balance needs in the regions and the priorities of the donor in terms of the proportion of beneficiary regions.

  • In response to Guinea’s question regarding training on the different conventions, the Secretary explained that training addressed both the differences and specificities between the three main culture conventions with overlapping themes, while other important conventions did not. Indeed, the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the 1972 World Heritage Convention have overlapping areas, but also their own specificities and areas of specialization. The Secretary was well aware that there were requests from States and field colleagues for a specific capacity-building programme that combined all the conventions. To this end, the Secretariat was in the final stages of preparing an extrabudgetary project for an educational tool on cultural heritage that would take into account all aspects of heritage dealt by all Conventions. It was hoped that a donor would come forward to support this initiative.

  • Regarding the question by the Czech Republic on how to better involve NGOs in the exercise of best safeguarding practices, the Secretary conceded that both the Committee’s report and the Secretariat’s report had noted that this mechanism had not yet found its proper place among the other mechanisms of the Convention. This was attributed to the fact that there was selective competition among the mechanisms due to the limit of nominations a State was permitted every year. Unfortunately, States tended to select the Lists rather than propose a Best Safeguarding Practice. As a result, and encouraged by the evaluation advisory service, the Secretariat was looking into developing alternative routes. This did not imply that the mechanism would be replaced but rather that it would be complemented with a more flexible methodology that would bypass the system of evaluation; submission, deadline, validation and so on. An option could involve peer reviews or NGOs (accredited or not) to help in sharing best practices as key partners. In this regard, the Secretariat underlined that it was very willing to bring about any training that might be beneficial, particularly as the best practices mechanism was considered by many to be an extremely important safeguarding tool, from which States could draw inspiration.

  • The Secretary understood the concerns expressed by Congo in which it was happy for the success of the capacity-building programme but was anxious to be a beneficiary of the training sessions. She explained that many States found themselves in a similar situation: of the 200 countries in the world, 69 countries had not yet benefited, let alone from phase 2 or phase 3 of training. She reassured Congo that a list of all priority countries that had yet to receive training had been compiled. At the same time, she appealed to donors to provide the additional support needed to continue the work. The newly established category 2 centre in Algeria would certainly play a major facilitating role in Africa in the coming years, but there were never enough resources.

  • Kyrgyzstan asked about gender equality and sustainable development, and the Secretary explained that work was already being launched in that regard. The Secretariat would soon publish two small pamphlets on gender equality and intangible cultural heritage, and on intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development, which would be added to the information kit that accompanied various themes under the Convention.

  • The Secretary also appreciated the intervention by the Islamic Republic of Iran on finding creative ways to make available the training materials to the largest possible number of users. Nevertheless, developing online education and training tools was a long-term plan for the future, as establishing the entire system in place, exams, and so on, would be timeconsuming. The idea was nonetheless interesting as a mechanism to cover a number of areas, perhaps accompanied by videos. Certainly it was a tool that could be especially useful for the younger generation who were more image-sensitive and interactive in their learning. Moreover, the online courses would allow students/trainees to interact with the teacher and other trainees around the world, and was therefore worth exploring.

  • The Secretary agreed with Turkey that inventories were one of the most important topics for training, with much progress made in this regard. She also agreed with Colombia that proposed a phase 2, particularly following the meeting in Cusco in September 2013 where there was an obvious need for the first activities in these countries to be followed by other more targeted activities. Indeed, capacity-building was a never-ending programme as there would never be enough training. Moreover, another important area of development was higher education where more specialized courses on intangible cultural heritage could be offered. Other groups interested in the Convention could also be targeted with respect to sustainable development, for instance health officials or agriculture representatives. Thus, there were large swathes of the population that probably still needed convincing. Again, the longevity of the programme depended a lot on long-term support, and the Secretary hoped that donors would consider investing funds in the Convention.

  • Thanking the Secretary, the Chairperson noted from the debate that the Assembly clearly appreciated the positive relations between States and the Secretariat, especially as partners working towards the same mission: to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. He thanked the Secretariat for its excellent report that looked at mechanisms to secure future work, and the Secretary for her responses to the issues raised. Turning to draft resolution 5.GA 4.3 shown on the screen, he pronounced paragraphs 1–4 adopted.

  • The delegation of Namibia remarked that the delegations had clearly underscored the importance of enhancing capacity-building, and suggested an amendment to paragraph 5, which read ‘Encourages the Secretariat and States Parties to enhance the strengthening of capacities with a view to respond timely to the capacity-building needs of Member States’. The delegation added that it had initially thought of splitting paragraph 5 into two to read ‘further welcomes the expanded reach and continued effectiveness of the global capacitybuilding strategy and encourages the Secretariat and States Parties to enhance the strengthening […]’, followed by ‘thanks the States Parties […]’ in a new paragraph.

  • The Chairperson thanked Namibia, and asked if there was support for the amendment.

  • The delegation of Congo thanked Namibia but did not understand the amendment ‘Encourages the Secretariat and the States Parties to enhance […]’. Was it suggesting that the Secretariat or the States Parties that would ‘enhance’, or both? The delegation suggested ‘Encourages the Secretariat to improve the capacity to respond in a timely manner’, thereby removing ‘States Parties’. The remaining sentence was acceptable.

  • The delegation of Cote d’Ivoire did not see the benefit of the amendment, especially as
    83 per cent of the budget was already allocated to capacity-building, and thus it was difficult to see how this could be improved further. In its opinion, the amendment was not appropriate.

  • The delegation of Togo congratulated the Chairperson on his election, adding that it appreciated the amendment proposed by Namibia, even if it sought to make some minor amendments. The delegation proposed to maintain the same paragraph and add ‘Further welcomes the expanded reach and continued effectiveness of the global capacity-building strategy and thanks the donor States and encourages the Secretariat to enhance the capacity-building programme to respond to the needs’ as the amendment affected all States Parties many of whom had spoken during the debate.

  • Reflecting on the amendment by Congo, the delegation of Albania wondered whether ‘States Parties’ should be deleted, as it was its understanding that the Secretariat should be encouraged to strengthen capacities. In addition, ‘to enhance the strengthening of capacities with a view to respond timely […]’ could be deleted. The delegation explained that Member States should be encouraged to make financial contributions to that effect, and the Secretariat to strengthen its capacities. Thus, there were two different requests: one addressed to the Secretariat and the other to Member States.

  • The Chairperson remarked that the Assembly was encouraging the Members States.

  • The delegation of Albania suggested, ‘call upon Member States to make further financial contributions’.

  • The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran agreed with the amendment by Albania, and suggested including the amendment to paragraph 7, which already thanked States Parties for their financial contributions.

  • The Secretary suggested deleting the reference to ‘Member States’, as extrabudgetary support was already mentioned in paragraph 7, so the paragraph would read, ‘Further welcomes the expanded reach and continued effectiveness of the global capacity-building strategy and encourages the Secretariat to enhance it in view to respond timely to the capacity-building needs of Member States’.

  • The delegation of Namibia thanked the Secretary for her proposal to the amendment.

  • With no further comments, the Chairperson pronounced paragraph 5 adopted.

  • The delegation of Indonesia noted that the reference to ‘it’ in the new paragraph 6 was unclear, and suggested replacing it with ‘such global capacity-building’.

  • The Secretary read aloud the revised paragraph 6 ‘Thanks the States Parties that have generously provided extrabudgetary support to make such global capacity-building possible’. She also suggested ‘calling upon Member States to make further contributions’.

  • With no further comments, the Chairperson pronounced new paragraph 6 adopted.

  • The Secretary read out the new paragraph 7, which read ‘further thanks the States Parties that have generously provided extrabudgetary support to the other statutory functions of the Secretariat and to the celebration of the Convention’s tenth anniversary’.

  • With no further comments, the Chairperson pronounced paragraph 7 and the new paragraph 8 adopted and declared Resolution 5.GA 4.3 adopted.

    ITEM 5.1 OF THE AGENDA:

    SUBSTANTIVE REVISIONS OF THE OPERATIONAL DIRECTIVES

    Document: ITH/14/5.GA/5.1

    Document: ITH/14/9.COM/4

    Resolution: 5.GA 5.1

    1. The Chairperson turned to the next item concerning a number of substantive revisions to the Operational Directives, which the General Assembly was tasked to approve or adapt as needed. Based on the lessons learned through experience it was understood that the first set of Directives adopted by the General Assembly in its second session in 2008 could be amended at a later date in light of the experience. This had indeed occurred at the third and fourth sessions and again the present year, which was a sign of the dynamic context in which the Convention operated. The Chairperson recalled that amendments might come about either because the Committee had been tasked by the General Assembly to address certain questions or because the Committee judged that certain amendments were required. The Chairperson proposed to debate and adopt each set of amendments in turn, inviting the Secretariat to present the amendments.

    2. The Secretariat explained that the Assembly would be examining five sets of amendments, which would be considered one-by-one with a debate for each set of revisions prior to adoption. The Assembly had asked the Committee to reflect upon a sixth topic but the Committee deemed that it was not opportune to propose amendments at that time. Extracts of the summary records from the Committee’s eighth session recording its debates leading to the recommendations could be consulted online. The first set of amendments in


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