EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCES, COOPERATION AND SYNERGIES BETWEEN UNESCO’S CULTURE CONVENTIONS
Decision 9.COM 13.h
425.The Vice-Chair turned to item 13.h, inviting the Secretary to present the item.
426.The Secretary explained that this was also the result of the recommendations of the evaluation, not the audit, which were carried out simultaneously. The evaluation was far more ambitious that it resulted in many recommendations, with suggestions on how to work and think about the best way to increase synergies between the conventions. The Secretary recalled that there was already a coordination mechanism in place since 2012, the Cultural Conventions Liaison Group (CCLG), which was presented at the Committee’s last session. This group comprised the secretaries of the different conventions5 that meet regularly. Since September 2014, and the appointment of the new Assistant Director-General for Culture, the frequency of the meetings had increased – every two or three weeks – to focus on strategic issues of common interest between the conventions. The document outlined the topics covered by the Liaison Group. The Common Services Team was another entity set up in July 2014 whose task was to facilitate the work of the secretariats of the conventions on such aspects as support to participants or the logistical organization of statutory meetings. The Secretary also reminded the Committee that the Executive Board of UNESCO, at its session in April 2014, requested the Director-General to convene a working group of States Parties to implement the recommendations of the IOS on cultural conventions. In this regard, an information meeting would be held on the follow-up of audit recommendations towards early 2015 for the permanent delegations. In terms of programmatic cooperation, the Secretary gave the example of Kasubi Bridge in Uganda, a World Heritage site, in which the intangible cultural heritage was important, and so it was clear that one aspect of collaboration between the two secretariats would be necessary and complementary with regard to the sensitivity of UNESCO’s action. Another aspect would be the complementarity of joint expert and committee meetings in order to deliver the potential complementarity of conventions through an appropriate financial framework. However, there was still some progress to be made from the principle of synergies, particularly for colleagues in the field who work directly with the States and see the benefits of a synergistic approach to the conventions, instead of working on six programmes of six different conventions. Another aspect was to see how the governing bodies of the conventions communicated and shared actions in a consistent way that respected the respective texts of the conventions so as to ensure that they work together for the safeguard of culture in general. Before concluding, the Secretary made a final point on the necessary funding required to achieve synergy and cooperation. The draft decision therefore incorporated these points.
427.The Vice-Chair thanked the Secretary for the debriefing and for sharing the information on these welcome developments, noting the call for extrabudgetary contributions to fund these efforts. Noting that there were no forthcoming comments, the Vice-Chair proceeded to the adoption of the draft decision. With no comments or objections to paragraph 1–8, they were duly adopted. With no objections to the decision as a whole, the Vice-Chair declared Decision 9.COM 13.h adopted.
428.The Secretary made a number of announcements on the NGO meeting, the meeting of facilitators, and an information session on the capacity-building programme for Electoral Group III.
429.The Vice-Chair reminded the Committee that at the end of the week it would be asked to elect the Bureau for its tenth session: a Chairperson, one or more Vice-Chairs and a Rapporteur. The Vice-Chair adjourned the day’s session.
[Wednesday, 26 November, morning session]
430.ITEM 10 OF THE AGENDA:
REPORT OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODY ON ITS WORK IN 2014 AND EXAMINATION OF NOMINATIONS FOR INSCRIPTION ON THE REPRESENTATIVE LIST OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF HUMANITY
Decision 9.COM 10
431.Reprising his role, the Chairperson thanked the Republic of Korea for offering the coffee during the day’s meeting, continuing the session with agenda item 10 and the examination of the 39 nominations to the Representative List (seven States Parties had withdrawn their nominations), which was expected to take a full day and a half. The Chairperson took the opportunity to remind submitting States that those wishing to withdraw their nominations had to do so before he opened this item of the agenda. The Chairperson recalled that a decision by the Committee not to inscribe an element would trigger a suspension period of four years before the file could be resubmitted. The Chairperson then briefly recalled the examination procedure, which was the same as conducted in the examination of the report by the Consultative Body.Firstly, the Rapporteur of the Subsidiary Body presents an oral report on the work of the Subsidiary Body and a number of general considerations. This is followed by a short debate where observers may speak, if they so request. The draft decision chapeau 9.COM 10 will be examined only after every nomination file had been examined and decided upon. The Chairperson invited the Vice-Chair of the Subsidiary Body to introduce each nomination and summarize the key points of the discussions that led to the Body’s recommendation. Members of the Committee would be given the opportunity to discuss each decision before proceeding with its adoption. Interventions during the debate on the draft decisions would be restricted to Committee Members.The Chairperson thus declared the agenda item open with the gavel. It was noted that seven nominations had been withdrawn by Argentina, Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, resulting in a total of 39 nominations to be examined. The Chairperson recalled that Members of the Subsidiary Body also sat as Members of the Committee, and that once the Subsidiary Body had presented its report, it had completed its mandate in accordance with its terms of reference. The Vice-Chair of the Subsidiary Body would however continue to present the Body’s recommendations on each nomination. During the debate on the draft decisions, the Chairperson encouraged the other eighteen Committee Members to express their opinions, as the report already reflected the consensus view of six of its Members. He further recalled that all Members of the Committee, including those serving on the Subsidiary Body, could speak, supposing that the six Members of the Subsidiary Body would likely focus on clarifying the underlying reasoning behind the collective recommendations. Finally, each submitting State would be granted two minutes to speak after the Committee had made its decision on its nomination. The Chairperson also wished to clarify the way he wished to conduct the debates with regard to potential amendments to the draft decisions submitted by the Subsidiary Body. He emphasized his will to privilege spirit of consensus. The Members of the Committee would therefore be asked to show their support for any amendment proposed, and the Chairperson would decide if it met broad agreement. If another way of conducting business was preferred, then Members of the Committee should signal it and the procedure foreseen in the Rules of Procedure [voting] would be applied. But he felt that consensus was preferable. The Chairperson then invited the Rapporteur of the Subsidiary Body, Ms Stavroula Fotopoulou, to present the report.
432.The Rapporteur of the Subsidiary Body recalled that the Body was composed of Greece, Latvia, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and Tunisia, and that it met for the first time in March 2014. Mr Augustus Babajide Ajibola from Nigeria was elected as Chairperson and Ms Fatma Fekih-Ahmed Kilani from Tunisia as Vice-Chairperson. Ms Stavroula Fotopoulou was elected as the Rapporteur. The Rapporteur explained that Ms Kilani was present on the podium in place of Mr Ajibola because Mr Ajibola had been called away by other urgent duties during the second day of the Body’s evaluation meeting from 1 to 5 September 2014 (when only the first 18 files had been discussed). Ms Kilani therefore assumed the Chair for the remainder of the meeting, during which time the Body modified some of its conclusions. Given that it was the Chair’s task to present the individual recommendations to the Committee, and defend the coherency of the recommendations overall, the Body asked Ms Kilani to take on that duty for all the files evaluated. In total, the Body evaluated a total of 46 nominations out of 49 files treated by the Secretariat. The evaluations had followed using the same working methods as previously explained by the Rapporteur of the Consultative Body. The resulting recommendations and draft decisions, presented in Section B of document 9.COM 10, represented – in all cases – the Body’s unanimous consensus. Subsidiary Body members, who were nationals of a nominating State Party, did not evaluate the corresponding nominations, had no access to the written reports of other members, and left the meeting room during the evaluation.Of the 46 nominations, the initial evaluation reports of the members before their face-to-face meeting showed unanimous support for only 9 files and divergent opinions for the 37 others, yet collective discussions resulted in 32 recommendations to inscribe. As previously indicated by the Rapporteur of the Consultative Body, the Secretariat compiled an aide-mémoire that collated the previous decisions of the Committee and the preceding recommendations of the Subsidiary and Consultative Bodies. Hence, the Body agreed that recurrent issues would refer in its written report to the aide-mémoire instead of providing detail, as has been done by previous Bodies. Section C of the document thus offered synthesized observations and retrospective lessons learned through previous cycles, which would be briefly presented. The Rapporteur explained that when examining the 46 nominations, the Body was once again impressed with the diversity of intangible cultural heritage nominated and was also pleased to find expressions emphasizing the link of intangible cultural heritage with nature and environment, or its role in the promotion of social cohesion and sustainable development. Moreover, the Body was satisfied to observe a more balanced geographic distribution than in 2013, with at least five files from each regional group. The Rapporteur reiterated once again on behalf of the Body that its recommendation not to inscribe an element at this time in no way constituted a judgement on the merits of the element itself, but referred only to the adequacy of the information presented within the nomination file. In this regard, the Body sometimes found it appropriate to include specific feedback and suggestions in the draft decisions, regardless of whether the element was recommended for inscription or not.
433.The Rapporteur turned to the substance of the evaluations in the section: Criteria for inscription, beginning with paragraph 42 of the written report, and commenting on the criteria for which 14 nominations did not receive a recommendation for inscription at this time. Before starting, the Rapporteur insisted once again on the importance of the aide-mémoire that helped States Parties in responding to the criteria, as it provided useful and detailed guidance on the expected information. With regard to criterion R.1, the Body sometimes found it difficult to understand from the information submitted in the nomination whether the element submitted constituted intangible cultural heritage. Indeed, like its predecessors, the Body found that States were often ambiguous in describing the element. Hence, the Body wished to encourage States Parties to provide clear argumentation on the current signification of the element for the communities concerned, including its social function and cultural meaning. In the same context, the familiar question of the scale and scope of an element was once again highlighted in the discussions, despite extensive debates, including an expert meeting, on the subject. The Body acknowledged the right of the submitting State to choose the element it wished to propose to the Representative List. However, the element’s nature and its multiple components should be sufficiently explained and detailed in the nomination in order to make clear to the reader how the element is constituted. For multinational nominations, the Body wished to recall the importance of emphasizing the unifying aspects of the element to make clear that it constituted a single element shared by all of the communities concerned. With regard to the transmission process, previous Bodies have already called attention to the importance of detailing the ways in which a practice was reproduced from one generation to the next. Finally, the Body missed more substantial information regarding the compatibility of the element with existing human rights instruments and the requirements of sustainable development.
434.The Rapporteur reported R.2 as the most problematic of the criteria. The Body was frustrated to see that despite repeated decisions by the Committee, States Parties failed to understand that they were required to demonstrate how inscription of the element would contribute to increasing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and not to the visibility of the element itself. Moreover, the Body noted a frequent lack of argumentation regarding the contribution of the inscription to human creativity and dialogue. However, as implemented last year, where the other four criteria were satisfied, the Body did not disregard a nomination because of weaknesses only in this criterion (except in one case which was a referral, as indicated in the written report). Moreover, due to the link between criteria R.1 and R.2, when descriptions were not clear for R.1 the Body found it difficult to decide that R.2 had been satisfied. In the same vein, the Body discussed the importance of maintaining coherence between R.1 and R.3 on safeguarding measures. Furthermore, it noted cases where communities had given their consent to the inscription of the element but had not participated in the elaboration of the nomination or the planning of safeguarding measures. In this regard, the Body wished to emphasize the need for consistency also between criteria R.3 and R.4. Regarding criterion R.3, the Body noticed that safeguarding measures were sometimes vague or too ambitious, and wished to remind submitting States that safeguarding measures should be concrete, precise and detailed with a primary focus on transmission. In addition, like its predecessors, the Body found several cases where the feasibility and viability of safeguarding plans was questionable because the commitment of the State Party was not demonstrated. In other cases, measures were presented as being contingent upon the inscription of the element. This conditionality should be avoided. In addition, with regard to multinational nominations, the Body wished to point out that the quality of safeguarding plans should be balanced across the participating States. Nevertheless, the Body was pleased to find several good examples of safeguarding approaches and methods, in particular when the State developed integrated intersectoral approaches or proposed extensive safeguarding measures. Tourism and commercialization were often mentioned among safeguarding measures. In this regard, the Body was pleased to see examples of nominations with adequate consideration of the possible negative impacts of mass tourism and over-commercialization and corrective or preventive actions foreseen among the safeguarding measures. The Body also welcomed some good examples of safeguarding measures involving communities, for example, the inclusion of a law for the benefit of the communities, the introduction of a code of conduct for tourists, the explicit inclusion of a variety of stakeholders in safeguarding plans, or the incorporation of the element in school curricula.
435.The Rapporteur further reported that for criterion R.4, the Body again invited submitting States to demonstrate the free, prior and informed consent of all relevant actors. The Body appreciated some evolution compared with previous cycles, and took note in its report of some good examples regarding community participation in the nomination process. However, many nominations were still deficient on this criterion. The Body thus recalled the importance of demonstrating the legitimacy of spokespeople representing the community, the importance of providing the most diverse and individualized expressions of consent, and the need to provide details on the consultation mechanisms used. Concerning the latter, the Body wished to join its predecessors in encouraging States to include bottom-up approaches instead of top-down perspectives. With regard to multinational nominations, States were invited to make sure that communities were fully aware of the nature of the nomination and that their consent explicitly acknowledged the participation of other groups and individuals from other States. This would become increasingly important with the proliferation of multinational nominations evident with the 2015 cycle. Regarding criterion R.5, the Body recalled that while multiple forms of inventorying were accepted, the involvement of communities in their elaboration, as well as periodic updates, constituted an obligation that must be clearly described in the nomination. The Body regretted the frequent lack of evidence of community participation in the inventory, underlining that community participation in the elaboration of the nomination corresponded to criterion R.4 and should not be confused with that requested in criterion R.5. Moreover, the Body regretted that the proof of inclusion in the inventory was still irregular and recalled that, according to Decision 7.COM 11 applicable to the current cycle, documentary evidence should be provided. For the 2015 cycle, the Body drew the attention of States Parties to Decision 8.COM 8 requesting them to provide an extract from the inventory itself in the nomination. The Body hoped that in the future the Evaluation Body would not be faced with simple lists or collections of documentation that do not constitute a proper inventory. Another concern arose in connection with both the evidence of inclusion in an inventory and the evidence of free, prior and informed consent. In several cases, this evidence seemed to have been created only after the submission of the nomination. Given that files were expected to be complete at the time of submission, the Body deemed that only in exceptional circumstances should such documentary evidence be created after 31 March, and those circumstances should be clearly explained within the nomination file. Finally, regarding audio-visual materials, the Body noted some improvements in the submitted videos and recalled that videos were the most visible part of the nomination upon inscription such that States should take particular care to avoid potential and unintended aggressive messages in the video or photographs, when the practice included the presence of weapons, for example.
436.The Rapporteur continued with the section on Global issues: a series of other over-arching issues addressed by the Body, adding that the Body had had long discussions regarding several nominations in which ambiguous messages or unclear formulations could potentially lead to misinterpretation or offend certain communities. In this regard, the Body recommended that submitting States anticipate possible sensitivities of other communities around the world and to take the utmost care in preparing their nominations, as was pointed out by the Committee in 2010 in its Decision 5.COM 6. In this regard, the use of animals within intangible cultural heritage, particularly when such use appears to involve violence for public entertainment, might be acceptable at the local or national level but might well generate misunderstanding when proposed for recognition at the international level. Here too, the Body emphasized that it did not wish to prejudge practices and whether they might be acceptable or not. States Parties should therefore keep in mind that their nomination is addressed to a global audience and that the element proposed has due respect for the sensitivities of others, in the spirit of the Convention. As with last year, the Body welcomed nominations that illustrated the contribution of intangible cultural heritage to sustainable development. Explanations of the interaction of living heritage practices and the natural environment, or their role in conflict resolution and peace-building as well as in fighting against racism and oppression, were provided in several interesting nominations. The Body encouraged future nominations such as these because they contributed fully to the significance and purpose of the Representative List and were also consistent with the view that culture is a fundamental enabler of sustainability. The Body also wished to encourage submitting States to be more explicit about women’s participation and to give greater attention to the participation of communities, including different generations and stakeholders. The Body also noted the aesthetic dimension of intangible cultural heritage beyond its functional aspects in society. Moreover, it positively noted the interest of elements that did not necessarily rely upon advanced technology but were nevertheless useful in today’s life. All of these cases – cited more specifically in the written report – constituted interesting examples of how intangible heritage could be economically viable in current times and thus contributed to sustainable development. Finally, the Body was particularly impressed when submitting States chose elements that had been discouraged or even prohibited in the past and were being revitalized in the present. In this regard, the Body also wished to express its receptivity to expressions that emphasized dialogue between groups separated in the past or even formerly in conflict, highlighting the spirit of tolerance and dialogue.
437.The Rapporteur concluded with Technical or formal issues, returning to paragraph 19 of the written report. Like its predecessor, the Body welcomed the submission of several well-prepared nominations, and like its predecessors, wished to add some nominations to the online list of ‘Files considered good examples by the Committee’. For this cycle, good examples had been submitted by countries from diverse geographical regions and thus might serve as references for other submitting States around the world. The Body nevertheless recalled that good practices of other countries must be adapted to each State’s own context. For the 2014 cycle, the Body cited the good examples submitted by Burundi, France, Portugal, Republic of Korea and Turkey. However, in general terms, the Body observed visible but slow progress in the quality of nominations. For example, it still found a tendency to assert rather than to demonstrate. The Body wished again to invite submitting States to take advantage of the lessons learned in previous cycles, encouraging them to take advantage of the aide-mémoire when elaborating future nominations. In examining the nominations, the Body followed certain working methods as reflected in the aide-mémoire. Referring to paragraphs 21–41 of the written report, the Rapporteur outlined the main points of note: i) the Body only considered the information the State provided in the nomination file and not any prior or external knowledge of the evaluators. In addition, information had to be found in the proper section within the form; ii) the Body tried to ensure that decisions were consistent with previous Committee decisions throughout the process of evaluation within the current cycle, and within each nomination. Hence, the Body wished once again to encourage submitting States to read its recommendations carefully, especially in cases of resubmission; iii) the Body was sensitive to the clarity of explanations and the linguistic quality of nominations, which were considered essential factors, leading in some cases to a rejection or referral because the information was simply not understandable; iv) the Body paid particular attention to the vocabulary used, which should be consistent with the 2003 Convention, and inappropriate vocabulary and expressions not favourable to dialogue should be avoided; v) In the same vein, the Body recommended that references to specific countries or adjectives of nationality be avoided in the titles of the nominations so as to not to provoke sentiments contrary to the Convention’s principle of international cooperation. The Rapporteur recalled that the inscription of an element on the Representative List did not imply exclusivity or ownership, nor did it constitute a marker of intellectual property rights; vi) Regarding multinational nominations, the Body looked for evidence that the element was a single shared practice or expression, identified as such by its communities, rather than a disparate set of practices celebrated by diverse communities on the same day; and finally vii) the Body had difficulty in implementing the referral option during the current cycle. It respected the Committee’s instruction to limit its use, applying it only for cases with a lack of technical detail, but this was often difficult since this had not been clearly defined. It was noted that in most cases, members could quickly agree that a criterion was satisfied. However, once agreed that the answer could not be ‘Yes’, the Body had difficulty distinguishing between ‘No’ and ‘Refer’. The referral option served as a compromise when the Body’s members were not convinced that the criteria were satisfied but were reluctant to recommend the non-inscription of the element. Time-consuming debates often took place on whether to refer or not to inscribe the element in question. The Body had to constantly negotiate whether the State had failed to demonstrate that a criterion was satisfied or whether the nomination was simply lacking specific technical details. Finally, after several exchanges, there was agreement among the Body’s members that the removal of the four-year waiting period could be beneficial for the evaluation process and would avoid unnecessary disappointment to the communities and States concerned. The Body also agreed that two options – positive and non-positive – would have facilitated its task and would have brought greater efficiency to its debates. The Body found that framing a single ‘not yes’ option could allow the Committee to provide submitting States with substantial feedback, while encouraging them and the communities concerned to revise and improve files. The Rapporteur was confident that the Committee’s debate and decision under item 13.c would provide guidance to the future Evaluation Body on this delicate issue. The Rapporteur hoped that the report had given an accurate and complete overview of the Body’s work.