396.The Chairperson turned to agenda item 13.b, inviting the Secretary to present the item.
397.The Secretary explained that this item was linked to the Committee’s work, arising as a result of its eighth session in Baku when the Director-General was asked in Decision 8.COM13.a to convene a category VI meeting of experts to develop preliminary recommendations for a possible new chapter in the Operational Directives on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. The Secretary recalled that during the discussion of a preliminary draft amendment to the Operational Directives on safeguarding, commercialization and sustainable development, the Committee preferred to group the issues of sustainable development at the national level within a single chapter of the Operational Directives. This chapter could also fill gaps identified in the 2013 evaluation report of the Convention that found that the Operational Directives did not explain ‘how intangible cultural heritage should encourage sustainable development’. The Secretariat, therefore, organized a meeting of experts in Istanbul, Turkey, from 29 September to 1 October 2014, funded, hosted and co-organized by the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO. The meeting brought together 12 experts including seven women from the six Electoral Groups of UNESCO, two per electoral group. The Secretariat prepared a first draft of the new chapter of guidelines structured around the four key dimensions of sustainable development defined in the report Realising the Future We Want For All based on the results of Rio +20. These four areas comprise inclusive social development, environmental sustainability, inclusive economic development, and peace and security. At the Istanbul meeting, the experts agreed on a set of improvements to the first draft; the revised version was annexed to document 13.b. This revised version is submitted to the Committee for debate, and it is proposed that at its tenth session in 2015, the Committee adopt a revised text in the light of the present debate and, if adopted by the Committee, submit them to the General Assembly in June 2016. Draft decision 9.COM 13.b thus incorporated these points.
398.The Chairperson opened the floor for comments.
399.The delegation of Belgium thanked the Secretariat and the expert group for the document, adding that it had a few questions and remarks. The first concerned the concept of sustainable development, which normally refers to three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental, though culture was often a fourth pillar in cultural publications. The delegation noted that the report Realizing a Future We Want For All had not developed culture as a fourth pillar, but actually spoke about three fundamental principles: human rights, equality and sustainability, from which four core dimensions were distinguished: inclusive social development; environmental sustainability; inclusive economic development; and peace and security. It further noted that document 13.b gave the impression that the four core dimensions were to be seen as the four pillars of sustainable development, which had caused some confusion, making it difficult to work with the document. It recalled the Internal Oversight Service report on the evaluation of the ten years of the Convention, referring to paragraph 64, which stated, ‘knowing about and appreciating the linkages of ICH and sustainable development is one thing, consciously building on such linkages in practice and even creating such linkages where they do not yet exist is a wholly different challenge’. The delegation emphasized ‘building… and creating’, which is a very active way of engaging with intangible cultural heritage. The point it wished to raise is that the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development is a different question than that of the linkage between safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. It noted that in the Internal Oversight Service report, there were a number of recommendations, for example Recommendation 2 proposed to ‘promote increased NGO and community involvement in the development of policy, legislation, safeguarding plans and sustainable development plans’; Recommendation 3 proposed to ‘enhance cooperation with sustainable development experts for integrating ICH into non-cultural legislation and policy and other work related to ICH and sustainable development’; and Recommendation 5 stated ‘cooperate with sustainable development experts when supporting State Parties with the integration of ICH into non-cultural legislation and policy and with other work related to ICH and sustainable development’. The delegation believed that these recommendations could be reinforced when developing the Operational Directives. It also believed that it would be interesting to consider safeguarding as a way to find the balance between the different dimensions, namely, economics, social aspects, ecology or environment, and culture, which would involve the mediation of cultural brokerage. The delegation considered it worthwhile to develop the role of mediators who work with the different groups and sectors trying to find adequate solutions. Finally, the delegation suggested exploring the possibilities to make linkages with the 2005 Convention.
400.The delegation of Latvia expressed its utmost appreciation of the States Parties, the Secretariat, as well as the experts involved in producing the document. It believed that work initiated on the amendments to the Operational Directives was an important input for UNESCO’s contribution towards integrating culture in the post-2015 UN Development Agenda. As noted from previous debates, UNESCO had struggled to make that effort and the outcome had not been as successful as expected. The delegation was pleased to note that the proposed substance for the amendments embodied a vision of culture as being at the heart of development goals. Moreover, it was also certain that by endorsing these principles within the Operational Directives, and subsequently in national policies and planning documents, States Parties would be fully able to comprehend the potential of intangible cultural heritage for the benefit of sustainable development. Although the document emphasized intangible cultural heritage in particular, the delegation also believed that the document might become a reference for inspiration in other fields of heritage, adding that awareness of the cultural aspects of development was already present in various regional development organizations and platforms within their respective debates. It therefore welcomed the proposed document, the debate and the diversity of issues raised. At the same time, it wished to draw the Committee’s attention to the need to connect this document closely with the spirit of the Convention, as well as its scope of application. With this in mind, the delegation raised its concern in how the document addressed intellectual property rights in paragraph 4 of the Annex. Although these issues were being dealt with by various countries nationally and worldwide, either providing specific protection or explicitly recognizing intangible cultural heritage as part of the so-called public domain, it was also aware that no global approach had been agreed within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); debates of connected issues has been going on for decades. Referring to the history of the elaboration of the 2003 Convention in which a certain distance had been taken with regard to intellectual property regimes, and also in the present debates and positions taken by the Committee where any claims to intellectual property rights are treated with great caution, the delegation would not be ready to accept the reference to intellectual property rights within the document. Nevertheless, it very much welcomed the continuous cooperation between UNESCO and WIPO on these issues.
401.The delegation of Mongolia encouraged the linkages between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development, adding that they were closely integrated and very important for the livelihood of communities. It was noted that as recently as three weeks ago, organizations such as the World Heritage Committee and the ICOMOS General Assembly had discussed issues about the cultural landscape, which combined intangible, tangible and natural values, and intangible and tangible cultural heritage. It therefore endorsed and supported the expert meeting on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. During the discussions in the present session, the delegation noted the difficulties within the Committee to identify the scope of communities, adding that the expert meeting was important in that it combined intangible cultural heritage and the development of communities that would help identify the scope of the communities. It thus encouraged the efforts of the Secretariat and the Committee to pay greater attention to the issues of sustainable development and intangible cultural heritage.
402.Thanking the Committee Members for their relevant remarks, the Chairperson added that the Secretary had taken note of their suggestions and that the Committee would examine an enhanced version of the proposal in 2015.
403.The delegation of Saint Lucia thanked the Secretariat for the document and the expert meeting for having discussed this very important issue, adding that it looked forward to seeing the guidelines on these issues, even though it would not be an easy task. The delegation wished to state some general principles. Firstly, it should be made clear that the Convention was about safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and not about development as such, nor about commercialization and tourism, and thus the guidelines should flow from this principle. Nevertheless, commercialization and tourism were realities that had to be dealt with. They were even welcome in some cases because they helped sustain intangible heritage, but the issues had to be dealt with caution and the guidelines should be drafted to precisely limit any threat brought about by excessive commercialization or tourism. Thus, it was clear that it was not the Committee’s role to promote tourism or commercialization. The delegation also wished to share the comments made by Belgium on the way the document was drafted with regard to human rights issues. It also felt uncomfortable in the paragraphs concerning gender issues, adding that care should be taken when dealing with these specific subjects. Finally, the delegation differed from the position held by Latvia on the topic of commercialization, adding that when speaking about how communities should be the beneficiaries of commercialization, the document should mention intellectual property rights, as this was already mentioned in paragraph 104 of the Operational Directives and was a reality that could not be ignored.
404.The delegation of Afghanistancommented that, given the post-2015 UN Development Agenda, there was a general tendency at UNESCO to reduce everything to sustainable development. Moreover, it had become a creed, even though the dimensions and requirements of sustainable development were still unclear. What was known is that it affected ecology, but had also expanded to other social, political and economic areas. The delegation remarked that the concept was still in its infancy and required yet more experience to see how it would work because the criteria, such as harmony, peace and balance, were still very diffuse. The question was how the Committee would be able to accommodate these requirements whenever it considered an already complicated nomination file. Only this morning, the delegation recalled, the very nuanced evaluations had let to the rejections of files even when gaps or deficiencies were unclear to the submitting States. The delegation was therefore concerned that the notion of sustainability would add to the complication, particularly as it had yet to be defined. The fact that the Committee would refer to something that was not yet defined, in a Convention that was yet in its infancy, was thought to create obstacles and impede the work so far on intangible cultural heritage.
405.The delegation of Belgium felt that more time should be given to discuss this very important point, adding that it could also be interesting to discuss a number of Operational Directives already presented to the Committee. It was also important to question the idea that intangible cultural heritage should only be instrumentalized to serve a number of goals. The delegation wished to emphasize the notion of safeguarding, and finding a suitable balance for a particular context or phenomenon. It spoke of its surprise, for instance, to have found the recurrent sentence in the draft Operational Directives that ‘States Parties are encouraged to foster scientific studies and research methodologies including those conducted by the communities themselves’, adding that it neither understood where this phrase came from nor what the research methodologies conducted by the communities meant. It therefore wished to know why the sentence was there. It further wondered whether the Committee was going to accept directives like paragraph 8 in which ‘States Parties are encouraged to recognize that inclusive social development cannot be achieved without sustainable food security, quality health care, access to safe water and sanitation […]’. The delegation accepted that these were true and important, but wondered whether the Committee should accept these as Operational Directives. It found other paragraphs, for example, on food security, which stated that ‘States Parties shall endeavour to ensure the recognition of, respect for and enhancement of those traditional farming, fishing, hunting, pastoral, food-gathering […]’, or for instance under ‘health care’ in which ‘States parties shall endeavour in recognition of and respect for and enhancement of those traditional health practices that contribute to well-being’. The delegation found that these were very specific items and wondered how they would fit into the Operational Directives. Another example cited was in draft Operational Directives 13 in which ‘States Parties shall endeavour to recognize and promote the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to social cohesion, overcoming all forms of discrimination […] to transcend differences of gender, colour, ethnicity, origin, class and locality and to those that are broadly inclusive of all sectors and strata of society including indigenous peoples, migrants, immigrants and refugees, people of different ages and genders, persons with disabilities, and members of marginalized groups’. These were indeed important thoughts, but this was introducing a lot of new words and concepts to the Convention. The delegation added that one of the things that made the Convention work was that it adhered to a limited number of relatively neutral words, while users then develop their own appropriate vocabulary. Every new word introduced to the Operational Directives therefore takes on a life of its own, and should therefore be reflected upon and be the subject of debate. It therefore wondered whether the Members of the Committee agreed with these draft Operational Directives, adding that it did not think the General Assembly could be convinced to accept them all.
406.The Secretary explained that the evaluation found that although the preamble to the Convention stated that intangible cultural heritage was a guarantee of sustainable development, concrete evidence to support this affirmation did not figure either in the Convention or in the Operational Directives. As commented by Afghanistan, the issue of sustainable development is present everywhere, which posed a challenge to culture, as culture was not a priori part of the agenda of sustainable development. This had concrete – and negative – implications on cultural agents working to support culture, who were convinced that culture brought an essential element to sustainable development. One problem lay in the fact that there was no specific goal dedicated to culture, unlike education, health, and so on. Thus, the question was how to promote the importance of culture, and the relationship between culture and sustainable development. The Secretary explained that funding associated with development, particularly the United Nations or large funding agencies, had no cultural component because most people did not understand this relationship, at least in areas that were not purely economic, for example, cultural tourism, or the marketing of cultural goods and services or crafts. It was thus a problem for UNESCO and more broadly for cultural actors in how they could demonstrate that their actions were conducive to sustainable development. The evaluation conducted of the normative framework of UNESCO and the Convention concluded that this link should be more clearly established. This was the starting point of the Committee’s discussion in Baku, which was also based on a proposal by the Secretariat to propose three preliminary paragraphs on the subject. The Secretary recalled that Morocco had intervened at the time, arguing that three paragraphs were inadequate and that it would take something far more substantial to understand the link. The Secretary further explained that it was true that the Operational Directives regulated the inscription of elements, but that the directives were primarily for States to understand how to implement the Convention at the national level, and therefore the Committee's decision requested the Secretariat to propose a chapter on the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development at the national level. This did not concern nominations but national development policies, and how intangible cultural heritage could make a contribution. Noting that the structure of the document was completely arbitrary, the Secretariat researched existing Directives and the report Realising the Future We Want For All to find paragraphs from the general principles that could link up with intangible cultural heritage. Thus, the vocabulary had come from these sources, which the experts had used to try and make a connection with safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The Secretary conceded that the structure might not be satisfactory, but that this was a starting point and could eventually be presented in another form. Nevertheless, the idea was to show that the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage was not just an act of cultural preservation, but that this cultural dimension had an impact on health, environmental management, human rights, gender equality, and so on; dimensions that were part of the agenda for sustainable development. While the Secretary understood that Belgium could not entirely identify with the presentation, they were the results of very sophisticated and detailed discussions among experts. The Secretary recalled that the question of scientific research ‘conducted by the communities themselves’ was brought forward by experts who felt that they should not create the impression that science came only from a cultureless ‘scientific community’ but that communities themselves were interested in studying and demonstrating how their intangible cultural heritage and safeguarding helped them in the development process. The experts thus suggested introducing research ‘conducted by the communities themselves’, together with broader academic research. This was why there was a tendency to repeat the same pattern of actions, as this was expected from the States Parties in their implementation of the Convention, rather than thinking that the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage was limited to ‘the field of responsibility of the Ministry of Culture’. This was deemed to deprive the safeguarding of intangible heritage of its real contribution to all the social aspects affected by the agenda for sustainable development. The Secretary remarked that the expert meeting lasted three days, during which vocabulary was taken from the Operational Directives to create the links between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. Moreover, it was noted that the text referred to by Latvia was the exact wording found in paragraph 104 of the Operational Guidelines. The Secretary appreciated the remarks by Belgium in that every time a word was used it brought with it a history. The Secretary remarked that it was interesting to note that indigenous peoples and their established organizations were not fully integrated into the Convention and they regretted that they were absent from the Convention and the Operational Directives. The Secretary explained that the addition of words was problematic, but also omissions were equally problematic for those who wished to feel part of this family. The Secretary concluded by saying that there was a lot of time to work on this issue, and hoped that the contributions would be as broad and comprehensive as possible.
407.The delegation of Morocco wished to contribute to the discussion, having participated at the expert group meeting at the invitation of the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO. The delegation recalled that before the Istanbul meeting, a meeting had been convened in Rabat where the main conclusions from Baku in 2013 on the relationship between economics and intangible cultural heritage had been discussed. An important conclusion from that meeting found that the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and economics could not be reduced to a strictly commercial and statistical dimension, and in fact went beyond that simplified notion. The Istanbul meeting went further by saying that the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development goes beyond the economic dimension, and that in fact intangible cultural heritage contributed to sustainable development in various ways and at various levels through health, the environment, society, culture and in other ways. The delegation found that the document was submitted within this spirit, and it welcomed the debate it raised, which it felt was very important as it involved the future of the implementation of the Convention.
408.The delegation of Belgium thanked the Secretary and Morocco for their comments, adding that sustainable development required the involvement of many stakeholders, which was a very important aspect. The participatory approach was therefore crucial that included the mediation and translation between the different groups and sectors of society, which was an important success factor when setting up safeguarding programmes. It therefore wished to see the idea of mediation, translation and brokerage reflected in the Operational Directives.
409.With no forthcoming comments, the Chairperson proceeded with the adoption of the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no objections to the adoption of the decision as a whole, the Chairperson then moved to the adoption of the draft decision as a whole. The Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 13.b adopted.