12.The Chairperson called on the Committee Members to respect the length of their interventions, and avoid speaking more than twice during the same debate, adding that a timer would be introduced if considered necessary. If time permitted, observers would be invited to speak during a general discussion. Observers would nevertheless not be permitted to intervene during discussions on the draft decisions.
13.The Secretary explained that in its Decision 6.COM 3, the Committee at its sixth session decided to authorize the participation of four entities as observers at its seventh, eighth and ninth sessions. Recalling that the sessions were open to the public, it was noted that no other entity or person had made a request to participate in future sessions as an observer; an observer differs from the public in that an observer can participate in the debates. Thus, among the entities and persons authorized to participate as observers in accordance with Decision 6.COM 3, two had registered to participate in the present session and their names had been introduced in the draft decision. It was also noted that the document did not mention the participation of accredited NGOs as they were automatically registered as observers to Committee sessions, in accordance with Art. 6 of the Rules of Procedure, as well as all States Parties to the Convention and Member States of UNESCO.
14.The Chairperson moved to the draft decision, and declared Decision 9.COM 3 adopted.
15.ITEM 4 OF THE AGENDA:
ADOPTION OF THE SUMMARY RECORDS OF THE EIGHTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE
Document ITH/14/9.COM/4 Rev.
Decision 9.COM 4
16.The Chairperson moved to the adoption of the draft summary records of the eighth session of the Committee, as presented in document 4.
17.The Secretary explained that document 4 Rev. recalled the important discussions by the Committee at its eighth session on issues that would affect its work in the present session. The Secretary was aware that this was the longest document of the session, though it was not intended to be read in its entirety, but rather to serve as a reference document. The detailed account did in some respect record the history of the Convention, whose evolution and trends could be observed through the various reports, and which led to certain decisions. Thus, the report attempted to accurately synthesize the interventions of all the Committee Members and observers at the Committee’s last session in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Secretary also wished to remind the Committee that the audio recordings of the debates (or video in the case of the Baku session) were also available online. In this way, anyone could verify the accuracy of the account provided.
18.The Chairperson moved to the adoption of the draft decision, and with no forthcoming comments or objections, declared Decision 9.COM 4 adopted.
19.Before moving to the next agenda item, the Chairperson wished to inform the Committee of the results of the Bureau meetings that had been convened four times, adding that all the working documents of the Bureau and its decisions were available on the Convention website. There had been two electronic consultations since the last meeting of the Committee, and two face-to-face meetings. In April 2014, the Bureau discussed and electronically approved the Committee's final report to the General Assembly on its activities between June 2012 and June 2014. In June 2014, the Bureau met to adopt a specific proposal concerning the Secretariat on the use of funds for ‘other functions of the Committee’ for the period from 1 January 2014 to 30 June 2016. The Bureau also met on 13 October and approved the provisional timetable of the current session of the Committee. Finally, it was with great pleasure that the Chairperson informed the Committee that just before the present session, three requests for International Assistance and one preparatory assistance request had been examined electronically. The Bureau thus approved the request by Mongolia for the capacity-building of NGOs working in the field of intangible cultural heritage in Mongolia for the amount of US$25,000; the request by Viet Nam to safeguard the oral traditions of its ethnic minorities for the amount of US$24,310; and the request by Morocco for the preparation of a nomination file to the Urgent Safeguarding List for the amount of US$14,100. However, the Bureau’s work was not finished, and it would meet every morning to effectively coordinate the work of the present sessions. The Chairperson remarked that Observers were welcome, and that he counted on the Vice-Chairs to assist him if necessary, while the Rapporteur would verify the accuracy of the final decisions as they were adopted. Finally, he wished to remind the Vice-Chairs that he also counted on their collaboration to lead consultations within their Electoral Groups, particularly in the establishment of the Bureau of the next Committee session. He concluded by thanking the members of the Bureau for their cooperation over the last twelve months, and invited the representative of the NGOs, Ms Jorijn Neyrinck [from the NGO Tapis Plein, Belgium] to introduce her report on the NGO Forum that was held the day before. The Chairperson was happy to inaugurate this practice, recalling that the Committee had decided at its eighth session in 2013 to include this report in the agenda in all future Committee sessions.
20.On behalf of the NGO Forum, Ms Neyrinck thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present a report of the annual symposium of the Forum that had taken place the previous day, directly following up on Decision 8.COM 5.c.1, encouraging States Parties to ‘promote increased NGO and community involvement in the development of policy, legislation, safeguarding plans and sustainable development plans’, as recommended by the Internal Oversight Service in its report (Recommendation 2). It was noted that 95 participants attended the Forum, comprising NGOs, communities, researchers, State Parties, and members of UNESCO National Commissions from over 38 countries worldwide. The idea of the symposium was to revisit the accomplishments of NGOs in four important and mutually interlinked domains of safeguarding intangible heritage: in public policies, legislation, safeguarding measures and sustainable development, which all required a close collaboration between NGOs and States Parties. The event was comprised of presentations with an interactive format so as to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the sharing of experiences, producing a day of diversity, inclusivity and positive energy. The Forum had taken another step in fostering mutual collaboration of public policy, decision-makers and civil society organizations with the shared purpose of safeguarding intangible heritage in the world. It also demonstrated the growing, active and dynamic relationships between NGOs and States Parties. It brought together a range of stakeholders that fostered awareness of their diversity and the wide range of roles they enact to benefit communities. The diversity of the NGO communities was enriching and meant that the Convention was implemented on many different levels with the challenges of NGOs working at different scales. The inclusivity of the Forum enabled even the smallest NGO to have the opportunity to make valuable contributions to the Convention. The Forum would meet throughout the week to discuss important topics, including ways of sharing best practices, responses to the report of the accredited NGOs and their four-year reports, the new Evaluation Body and the enhanced role of NGOs, and the periodic reports in which a greater NGO role was envisaged. The activities of the Forum could be followed through the dedicated website, including the online journal #Heritage Alive, an on-going platform for exchanges and experiences from several working groups, and the newly established newsletter. Another significant event was the Conference ‘Towards Efficient Roles of NGOs for Safeguarding ICH’1 in the Asia-Pacific Region held in Korea in June 2014 and organized by ICHCAP and the Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, with support from the Korean government. Finally, the delegates of the NGO Forum wished to express their gratitude to Indonesia, which had recently announced that it would support ICH NGO Forum activities in order to build infrastructure and capacity, and hoped that other States Parties would follow Indonesia's initiative. Ms Neyrinck concluded by offering a publication Brokers, Facilitators and Mediation that addressed the critical success factors for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, with researchers and many of the accredited NGOs active in the Forum recounting their experiences.
21.The Chairperson was happy to hear of the fruitful discussions and thanked Ms Neyrinck for her participation towards the future work of the Committee.
22.The delegation of Belgium thanked the Secretary for organizing the present session and congratulated the Chairperson for his chairmanship. The delegation also wished to thank the NGO for its reports, adding that giving NGOs the opportunity to have the NGO Forum at the beginning of the Committee meeting was a good tradition that it hoped would continue.
23.The delegation of Latvia congratulated the Chairperson on his election and thanked the Secretariat for the substantial work accomplished in the present session to prepare the debates. It also welcomed the NGO Forum’s continued reflection on the implementation of the Convention at the local, national and international levels, and for contributing to the debates of the Committee. The agenda of the present session drew the Committee’s attention to the role of NGOs, as described and analysed in the reports of States Parties to be examined during the next few days, but also to be incorporated within the proposed amendments to the Operational Directives with regard to periodic reporting. The delegation acknowledged the contribution of NGOs to the broad spectrum of transversal issues in implementing the Convention in general, and it encouraged the exchange of experiences and opinions within the NGO Forum and its continuous involvement within the Committee debates of the Committee.