ESTABLISHMENT OF THE EVALUATION BODY FOR THE 2015 CYCLE
1004.The Chairperson then turned to the election results, inviting the tellers to return to the podium. The Chairperson then announced the vote count. Mr John Moogi Omare from Kenya: 11 votes, and Mr Sidi Traore from Burkina Faso: 13 votes. Mr Sidi Traore was therefore declared elected. The Chairperson congratulated the elected Members of the Evaluation Body and at the same time thanked all the candidates. The Chairperson asked the tellers to remain on the podium, as the term of office of each Member now had to be determined. He invited the Secretary to provide information on the rotation system.
1005.The Secretary explained that in accordance with the Operational Directives, the Committee was called to set up a rotation system that provided for the renewal of three of the twelve Members of the Evaluation Body at each session, with the term of office of each seat not exceeding four years. As this was the first Evaluation Body, the Committee was called to determine the three seats that would serve for a period of four years, the three seats for a period of three years, the three seats for a period of two years, and finally, the three seats for a period of one year. The rotation system was implemented so that the Evaluation Body could benefit from a continuous renewal, as well as continuity in the Body and institutional memory. Following this logic, it seemed beneficial that each Electoral Group had one member with some experience in an advisory capacity, and one member who would be newly associated with the Body’s work in each new cycle. Having studied the different options, the Secretariat had reached a fair and balanced proposal that would occur in two stages. The first step was to determine six mandates, one for each Electoral Group, each comprising one expert and one NGO with a different termed mandate. There were thus six different plans, each totalling five years: i) Plan A – one year for the expert and four years for the NGO; ii) Plan B – two years for the expert and three for the NGO; iii) Plan C – three years for the expert and two years for the NGO; iv) Plan D – four years for the expert and one year for the NGO; v) Plan E – two years for the expert and three years for the NGO; and vi) Plan F – four years for the expert and one year for the NGO. The Secretary further explained that from next year, each vacant seat would be filled for a period of four years, adding that this was the first introduction of the rotation system, and thus the Committee had to identify which Electoral Group would have to give up a seat for a shorter period than four years. Nevertheless, the initial distribution ensured that each plan had a balanced mix of mandates with each Electoral Group beginning with a cumulative total of five years split between experts and NGOs. The Secretariat sought to achieve a balance within each plan and believed that no plan was more advantageous than another. Once the Committee agreed to the proposal, the second stage consisted of matching each plan to a particular Electoral Group by drawing lots, which seemed to be the easiest and fairest way. Moreover, this method was practised in the United Nations system in such cases, and occurred in the renewal of the first members of the Committee. Six envelopes would be placed inside an urn, one for each Electoral Group, and the first envelope drawn would be associated with Plan A, the second with Plan B, and so on, until all the envelopes had been drawn, and each Electoral Group was matched with a plan. The tellers would place the envelopes in the urn and select the envelopes.
1006.The Secretary called out the results. Plan A: Group V(a). Plan B: Group IV. Plan C: Group V(b). Plan D: Group I. Plan E: Group III. Plan F: Group II. The Secretary explained the result. Electoral Group V(a) had Plan A: a one-year term for the expert and a four-year term for the NGO. Electoral Group IV had Plan B: a two-year term for the expert and a three-year term for the NGO. Electoral Group V(b) had Plan C: a three-year term for the expert and a two-year term for the NGO. Electoral Group I had Plan D: a four-year term for the expert and a one-year term for the NGO. Electoral Group III had Plan E: a two-year term for the expert and a three-year term for the NGO. Electoral Group II had Plan F: a four-year term for the expert and a one-year term for the NGO.
1007.The Chairperson remarked that the Members of the Evaluation Body and their mandates were now known, and he proceeded with the adoption of the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections, paragraphs 1-4 were duly adopted.
1008.The delegation of Belgium wished to propose an amendment as a new paragraph 5, which read: ‘Takes note of the fact that not all Electoral Groups proposed more than 1 NGO, thus limiting its freedom of choice to define the composition of the Evaluation Body’, as well as a new paragraph at the end of the draft decision, which read: ‘Decides that the Operational Directives should be revised to include the necessity to send at least two and up to three candidatures for both experts and NGOs, and requests the Secretariat to propose a draft text of amendments reflecting that decision to its tenth session’. The delegation understood that this was the first time the Evaluation Body was established, and it wanted to take the opportunity to congratulate the newly elected members and thank the Secretariat for its meticulous mathematical proposal on the renewal, albeit it required fine-tuning to make it fully harmonious. With regard to the candidates, the delegation noted that some Electoral Groups did not offer a choice, making it difficult for the Committee to fully express itself, particularly as it was decided in Baku and in the General Assembly that the spirit of decision was in having a choice. It therefore proposed to take note of the fact that not all Electoral Groups proposed more than one NGO, thus limiting the freedom of choice to define the position of the Evaluation Body. In a later paragraph, the delegation proposed to amend the Operational Directives to ask States Parties to bring forward at least two, and up to three candidates, for both NGOs and experts. It accepted that in some cases there were not enough accredited NGOs; however, it felt that more work was needed to inform NGOs that they could contribute so that they were made fully aware that this possibility existed. Moreover, as new Operational Directives would only come into effect within a few years, at least not before 2016, it surmised that there would be more NGOs in the future.
1009.The delegation of Latvia supported paragraph 5 as presented by Belgium concerning the presentation of NGOs in the current election. It wished to congratulate the newly elected experts and NGOs to the Evaluation Body. It also wished to draw the Committee’s attention to some general conclusions from the election procedure of the Evaluation Body. Firstly concerning the choice of NGOs, the delegation believed that the Committee should reflect on the pre-selection process within the Electoral Groups and the selection presented to the Committee. Within the framework of the current procedure, the delegation encouraged Member States to ensure that all accredited NGOs with registered headquarters within their territory be made aware of the pre-selection process and the responsibilities of the Evaluation Body. It also noted that there was growing activity within the NGO Forum, and believed that its role as a communication platform might be considered both by the Member States and by the Forum itself. With regard to the choice of experts and the examination of the different candidacies, the delegation remarked on the considerable disparities in the CVs and how the experiences were presented. It thus proposed that the Secretariat consider elaborating a common CV form for presenting expert candidates that provided a synthesis of the most relevant information. Finally, the delegation observed that the current candidacies comprised experts and NGO representatives that had previously served in a consultative capacity. The delegation associated with the remarks previously expressed by Belgium that it was important to bring new experts to the examination process of nominations and proposals. As such, it proposed that these aspects be taken into account when selecting experts, reiterating that the Committee should broaden as much as possible the involvement of different experts. With regard to the point raised on a common CV form, the delegation suggested that this aspect, i.e. whether an expert had previously served the Committee, should be taken into account. It concluded by encouraging the newly elected Members in their duties in the Evaluation Body.
1010.The delegation of Brazil also noted that Electoral Groups III and V(b) had presented only one NGO to the Committee in this election, though not because they were looking for a clean slate but actually because this was the only option available. There was thus a lack of accredited NGOs in some regions. In the case of Group III, it did have more than three NGOs available, but it sought to have an NGO with a broader view of intangible cultural heritage, rather than a specialization. For instance, there were four NGOs from Brazil, but three were specialized in Indian culture, while one NGO presented a much broader perspective on intangible cultural heritage. Moreover, it had not received any submissions from other NGOs in the region, despite consultations, because for whatever reason they were unavailable. In the case of Group V(b), it only had three accredited NGOs; one was leaving the Consultative Body, one was unavailable to participate, leaving only one NGO available for the task. Thus, it was not really a clean slate, but rather a lack of options that occurred. The delegation therefore felt that a wiser suggestion would be to encourage greater efforts in terms of broadening the participation of NGOs in the accreditation of NGOs to UNESCO, adding that it was too early to amend the Operational Directives. It suggested waiting at least one more election so as to better reflect on the issue. However, the Committee could – in the draft decision – invite all Electoral Groups to present more than one candidate so as to avoid a similar situation in the future.
1011.The Chairpersonwondered whether the Committee was ready to adopt the proposal by Belgium.
1012.The delegation of Brazil accepted paragraph 5, but felt that it was too early to request amendments to the Operational Directives.
1013.The delegation of Algeria supported the comments made by Brazil, adding that it would like to delete ‘limiting its freedom of choice’, explaining that the Electoral Groups did not limit the freedom of choice of any group, but that they found themselves in a situation with only one option. The delegation therefore proposed: ‘Takes note of the fact that not all Electoral Groups were able to propose more than one non-governmental organization thus limiting its choice to define the composition of the Evaluation Body.’
1014.The Chairperson thanked Algeria for its constructive proposal.
1015.The delegation of Belgium acknowledged the comments by Brazil on the difficulty to put forward more candidates, as well as the comments by Algeria. It suggested that instead of ‘thus limiting its freedom’, as this might seem as if the Electoral Groups were trying to ‘limit’, which of course was not the case, to use, ‘which limited’, as it was the situation itself that limited the choice of the Committee. It also wished to avoid any connotation that it was the Electoral Groups that did this in a voluntary manner, adding that it understood the reasons why this situation came about.
1016.The Chairperson thanked Belgium for its proposal, adding that it was very important to maintain the spirit of the concern raised by Brazil and Algeria.
1017.The delegation of Egypt remarked that on a procedural level, and at the request of the Secretariat, the National Commissions submitted the names of experts and NGOs, however, occasionally the Chairpersons of the National Commissions found it difficult to fulfil their role adequately. The delegation surmised that perhaps they had problems providing information to the NGOs, adding that it was difficult at times to communicate with them or the requests were not received. Bearing in mind that accredited NGOs were well known to the Secretariat, the delegation wondered whether it could assist by submitting information to the NGOs, and perhaps the NGOs could channel this through their State, or even go directly to the Secretariat. This would provide a chance for a greater number of NGOs to participate, increasing their involvement in the process.
1018.The Chairperson thanked Egypt for its comment, turning to the amended paragraph.
1019.The delegation of Tunisia supported Algeria’s proposal, adding that several regional groups only submitted one candidature owing to a lack of accredited NGOs to the Convention. Moreover, the Committee’s decision did not specify a minimum but a maximum number of potential of candidates. The situation therefore forced the Committee to reflect on the imbalance between the different regional groups in terms of the under-representation of NGOs. Additionally, it may encourage Member States to submit nominations from their NGOs to the Convention.
1020.The Chairperson noted a consensus to the latest changes in paragraph 5, and with no objections, it was duly adopted. He then turned to paragraph 6.
1021.The delegation of Brazil commented on the language of the paragraph just adopted, but accepted that it was too late to change it.
1022.The Chairperson turned to the following paragraphs 6–8, and with no objections, they were duly adopted. He then turned to paragraph 9.
1023.The delegation of Brazil reiterated that it was too early to request another change to the Operational Directives, as it required greater reflection. However, it suggested to include a paragraph requesting the Secretariat to pursue the efforts of accreditation of more NGOs, as the problem lay in the fact that there were not enough accredited NGOs, which limited the choices of Electoral Groups to propose NGOs. Thus, efforts were needed to broaden the number of NGOs working with the Convention. The delegation understood the good intention behind Belgium’s amendment, to avoid a clean slate with the new rule; however certain Electoral Groups could face a situation in which they would not be able to follow the new rule because we did not have enough accredited NGOs available.
1024.The delegation of Saint Lucia supported the remarks by Brazil that it was important to activate the accreditation of NGOs so as to ensure that there was a consistent number of NGOs in the regional groups. However, it also saw the merit of Belgium’s proposal because it was a fact that all regional groups have more than two NGOs such that there would at least be a choice. This way, the Committee could make choices with a rotation of new NGOs instead of working with the same ones, which was important as every group had at least two NGOs. Thus, there was no problem with the amendment by Belgium.
1025.The delegation of Algeria endorsed the comments by Brazil and Saint Lucia in that the reality on the ground must also be appreciated. It understood Belgium’s explanation that the two amendments were related in that now that the paragraph was adopted it should find its way into the Operational Directives. However, there was a danger that the rule, if adopted in the Operational Directives, might not be applied and the Committee would find itself in the same situation where there were not enough NGOs represented. The delegation explained that in Electoral Group V(b) and in Algeria there were currently no registered NGOs working in intangible cultural heritage: a fairly new field and still in its infancy. Thus, what would happen if there were not enough NGOs to present? The delegation hoped that the Committee would take this into consideration.
1026.The delegation of Bulgaria agreed with the reasoning of Saint Lucia and also the proposal by Belgium, adding that if the Committee agreed on this text now, then the amendment would only be incorporated into the Operational Directives in 2016 and applied in 2017, i.e. three years from now. In the meantime, Member States would be in a position to propose NGOs for accreditation and thus change the current landscape.
1027.The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire found the amendment very interesting; however, it only fully understood its rationale following the explanation given by Belgium. The delegation thus wished to add a small phrase, ‘in order to ensure rotation’, which would help in understanding the reason for the amendment.
1028.The delegation of Tunisia also found the amendment very interesting, but that it did not take into account the reality of the current situation in some regional groups, including its own. The delegation explained that of the 21 countries in its Electoral Group, there were only three NGOs, and not all three met the requirements to participate in the Evaluation Body. It therefore believed that the best way forward was to reflect on how to encourage States Parties and Electoral Groups to increase the number of accredited NGOs to the Convention, after which the amendment could be applied.
1029.The Chairperson invited the Secretary to read the proposed amended text.
1030.The Secretary presented the amendment, which read: ‘Decides, in order to ensure rotation, that the Operational Directives should be revised to include the necessity to send at least two and up to three candidatures for both experts and NGOs, and requests the Secretariat to propose a draft text of amendments reflecting that decision to its tenth session’.
1031.The Chairperson sought support for the amendment by Belgium but noted that there was not broad support, reverting to the original wording.
1032.The delegation of Belgium accepted the consensus and the deletion of the amendment. However, it also wished to maintain the idea, thus proposing: ‘Encourages States Parties to propose more than one candidate from both NGOs and experts’, adding that it would understand if States were in a situation in which it was not possible.
1033.The Chairperson noted that the initial amendment was not accepted, but Belgium was welcome to make a new amendment.
1034.The delegation of Belgium proposed the amendment in paragraph 6, which would read: ‘Encourages States Parties to send at least two candidates for both NGOs and experts to the Secretariat through their Electoral Groups.’
1035.The delegation of Brazil and Latvia supported the proposal.
1036.Noting a general consensus, the Chairperson turned to the adoption of Belgium’s proposal in paragraph 6, which was duly adopted. Having adopted all the paragraphs, and with no objections to the adoption of the decision as a whole, the Chairperson declared Decision 9.COM 11 adopted.
1037.The Representative of the NGOs very much welcomed the new Evaluation Body and congratulated the elected members. On behalf of the NGOs, she expressed appreciation of these important roles of NGOs and experts within the new Evaluation Body. Nevertheless, the NGO Forum sought further clarification and transparency on the nomination procedures of experts and NGOs to the Evaluation Body, in particular, for NGOs operating in an international capacity, and for those NGOs operating in non-States Party countries. She also welcomed more information on the opportunities for NGOs to participate actively in the mechanisms of the Convention. The NGO Forum considered the discussion by the Committee concerning future criteria and procedures for proposals and elections to be important, which took into account all stakeholders involved.