INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE FOR THE
SAFEGUARDING OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
30 November to 4 December 2015
Item 4 of the Provisional Agenda:
Adoption of the summary records of the ninth session of the Committee
Decision required: paragraph 7
This document contains the summary records of the ninth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, from 24 to 28 November 2014.
More than 1000 participants attended the session among which delegations from all the twenty four States Members of the Committee, one hundred and eight States Parties not Members of the Committee, seven States non party to the Convention, two Intergovernmental organizations, five Category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO, sixty four accredited non-governmental organizations to the Committee and fifty press/media entities.
The full list of participants is available online.
The session was conducted in three languages: English and French (the two working languages of the Committee) and Arabic.
The Intangible Cultural Heritage Section of UNESCO provided the Secretariat for the meeting.
The elected Members of the Bureau of the ninth session of the Committee were:
Chairperson: H. E. Mr José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros (Peru)
Vice-Chairpersons: Belgium, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia and Egypt
Rapporteur: Ms Anita Vaivade (Latvia)
The Committee may wish to adopt the following decision:
2. Adopts the summary records of the Committee’s ninth session contained in this document.
SUMMARY RECORDS OF THE NINTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE
[Monday, 24 November, morning session]
1.ITEM 1 OF THE AGENDA:
OPENING OF THE SESSION
2.The Chairperson of the ninth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, H. E. Mr José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, officially opened the meeting by welcoming everyone to UNESCO’s Headquarters. Before going into the substance of the work, the Chairperson invited the Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, Mr Alfredo Pérez Armiñán, to make few remarks.
3.The Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mr Alfredo Pérez Armiñán, was pleased to participate in the opening of the ninth Committee session in his new role, and was particularly interested in seeing how cultural conventions, which is at the heart of UNESCO’s activities in the field of culture, were accompanied by States Parties at statutory meetings. This session promised to be demanding and important, like the eight previous sessions since the adoption of the Convention in 2003. This session could, however, be unusual in that it occurred during an unprecedented financial crisis that can no longer be considered transitory. It was a situation that called for awareness and responsibility in order to change the way of future work, to collectively reflect on how best to serve the objectives of the Convention, while focusing on the essentials. The Convention was said to be ambitious, generous, and in many ways pioneering. It recognized communities as key stakeholders in identifying and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, and called on all States Parties to implement a veritable cultural democracy for the future of societies, their cohesion and their sustainable development: which is an essential part of UNESCO’s work in the field of culture. The question was not whether UNESCO would continue to carry out this mandate in the future but in what manner UNESCO would fulfil it. The statutory obligations of a Convention were multifaceted, and it would seem natural to expect that all aspects are taken into account, as well as supporting States Parties in implementation, capacity-building, monitoring, communication, and so on. However, the budgets available, particularly for human resources, could no longer fulfil these tasks in the same way, despite the support offered by various donors through extrabudgetary funds to whom the Assistant Director-General expresses his gratitude. The Assistant Director-General reiterated the findings of the audit of the cultural conventions conducted in 2013, which concluded that the current system was not sustainable. A review of the practices thus required lucid, creative and responsible choices in the interest of all in order to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. The financial crisis should not be feared. On the contrary, it was often a crucial step that led to something else. It was this ‘something else’ that States Parties should keep in mind during the Committee’s discussions in the coming days in order to effectively achieve the important goals of the Convention. The Assistant Director-General was confident of the future and the actions to be embodied by the international community in this regard. He would be accompagnying the work of the Commiteee during present session and in the months and years to come to ensure the Convention’s success.
4.The Chairperson thanked the Assistant Director-General for his wise words, which would certainly remain in the Committee’s mind during the discussions. The Chairperson spoke of the great honour bestowed on him and his country, Peru, in chairing this ninth session of the Committee. He noted the unprecedented attendance with more than 950 participants registered, which demonstrated the importance of the Convention at the national and international level, and the presence of a number of ministers and deputy ministers attested to this. He thanked them for their presence and the importance they attach to the Convention. The Chairperson was confident that the Committee would successfully tackle the important agenda items over the next five working days even though the timetable is extreamly heavy. He spoke of the current international situation characterized by a fragmentation of society and the emergence of new conflicts such that dialogue and shared values carried particular importance as essential elements of culture and peace. He added that people demand decisions from their governments and non-state actors that open dialogue and understanding, and that highlight a humanist vision of politics and the universal value of dialogue. UNESCO thus had a duty to build peace in the minds of men, and its multidimensional approach to world culture was essential in this regard. By understanding cultural diversity and respect for others, we ensured dialogue and understanding between peoples. The Chairperson further added that culture was increasingly a variable of source for ensuring sustainable development, and was key to building peace. The 46 nominations included various expressions of knowledge, spiritual representations, oral traditions, dances and other intangible cultural expressions that represented the spirituality of millions of people who sought to share these cultural traditions with humanity. Faced with the trend towards conflict, the global community was united in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage so that everyone could live in freedom and in peace. The Chairperson thus officially opened the ninth session of the Committee, inviting the Secretary to make some practical announcements, before moving on to the agenda.
5.The Secretary of the Convention, Ms Cecile Duvelle, informed the Committee that the debates would be interpreted in French, English as well as Arabic, thanks to the generous support of Saudi Arabia, and broadcast in audio only on the Convention website that could be followed anywhere around the world. A special room had been attributed to the media, accessible day and night. The meeting room was connected to the wireless network, which facilitated the access to online documents and thus rendering the meeting as paperless as possible, though paper versions were provided for Committee members who had made the request. The latest updated 2014 edition of the basic texts of the Convention, which included the Operational Directives adopted in June by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention, had also been distributed. The printed version of the basic texts are available in French and English, with the four other official language versions soon available in print, though the Operational Directives were available online in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Russian. The Secretary reminded the Committee that the list of participants was available online in draft form, with 974 people registered so far from 129 countries. She also reminded the Committee that the Bureau of the ninth session consisted of the Chairperson, H.E. Mr José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, the Rapporteur, Ms Anita Vaivade from Latvia, and the Vice-Chairs from Belgium, Latvia, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan and Namibia. Finally, the 50 delegates among the Committee members, States Parties or NGOs who received financial assistance were asked to request reimbursements for their travel costs. There would be no breaks during the sessions, but the vending machine would be available outside the hall and there were two bars in the building.