65.The Vice-Chair moved to the next item, inviting the Secretary to present the item.
66.The Secretary explained that Article 24.3 of the Convention provided that the beneficiary State Party provide the Committee with a report on the use of International Assistance for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Last year was the first year in which the Committee received such reports, and the Secretariat sought to better institutionalize this process by providing a template of a report, which the States could use as a guide, thus simplifying the reporting process for the Committee from a comparative point of view. In the draft decision, the Committee therefore took note of its proper use, according to the decision taken at the time it was granted, and specifically invited States Parties to use form ICH-04-Report that was specifically developed by the Secretariat as the reporting framework.
67.The Vice-Chair opened the floor for comments. With none forthcoming, he turned to the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections, the Vice-Chair declared Decision 9.COM 5.c adopted.
68.ITEM 6 OF THE AGENDA:
REPORT BY THE SECRETARIAT ON ITS ACTIVITIES
69.The Vice-Chair moved to agenda item 6, inviting the Secretary to present the item.
70.The Secretary was happy to note the Committee’s efficiency, assuming that it was perhaps due to a new working method that was hoped for by the Assistant Director-General in his introduction. The Secretary referred to the two documents related to the item: document 6 (Report of the Secretariat on its activities) and INF.6 (Financial statement for the period 1 January 2014 – 30 September 2014 for the ICH Fund), as it was the Committee that decided on its use. It was noted that the Secretariat's report focused on activities undertaken since the Committee’s eighth session, covering a period of 12 months, and including, in particular, an update on the progress regarding national capacity-building, which remained a major priority, as requested by the General Conference of UNESCO. Moreover, the programme and budget of the section in the C/5 was entitled ‘National capacities strengthened […] to safeguard intangible cultural heritage’, and was thus a high priority for States Parties to the Convention. The Secretary drew attention to the efforts made this year to integrate the principle of results-based rather than activity-based reporting, adding that UNESCO was moving towards results-based programming and budgeting. The report’s introduction presented the reorganization of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section as a result of changes throughout the Organization. The former ‘Governing Bodies and Processing Unit’ and ‘Information and Communication Unit’ were eliminated, with some of the work absorbed by a new unit, the Conventions Common Services Team (CCS), which was created in July 2014 and was responsible for communication, publications, and the logistics of statutory meetings. Other aspects of the work of this common platform included a coordinated strategy for fundraising. Thus, two new units now absorbed some of the work of the eliminated units, comprising: the Capacity Building and Heritage Policy Unit, a central unit that continued to work on the development of training materials and the implementation of capacity-building activities in close cooperation with the field offices; and the Programme Implementation Unit, a catch-all unit in charge of the processing of nominations, periodic reports, expert meetings, and everything else outside the Capacity-Building Unit. The Secretariat’s main activities, since the eighth session of the Committee, were organized around four main themes that followed the expected results of the 37 C/5 programme and budget for 2014–2015, as adopted by the General Conference. It also followed the results framework adopted by the Bureau of the Committee concerning ‘the other functions of the Committee’, which concerned 18% of the Fund that the Bureau granted to the Secretariat, as delegated by the Committee, to carry out activities related to capacity-building and other activities.
71.The Secretary outlined the different parts of the report. Part A: ‘Governance mechanisms of 2003 Convention effectively supported.’ This covered activities supporting governance mechanisms, including the organization of statutory meetings. It was noted that since December 2013, nine statutory meetings had taken place: the General Assembly of States Parties in June 2014; the present session of the Committee; one Bureau session and two electronic session of the Bureau; three advisory body meetings; and an expert meeting held in Istanbul in September, as requested by the Committee. Part B: ‘Knowledge management services optimized and utilized for effective implementation and information-sharing.’This covered the vital work of managing the bulk of information related to the work of the governing bodies, but it also provided easy access to information on the projects undertaken by the Convention, whether safeguarding projects, capacity-building workshops, a forum for the facilitators in capacity-building, or the dedicated webpage for the network of category 2 centres where all necessary documents could be found. Thus, the work involved more than just a website, it served as a genuine knowledge management tool. The Secretary remarked how much the advisory bodies appreciated being able to work on the nominations from home, using this system to work effectively with summary information across the system, and at the same time avoiding countless e-mails. It was noted that this essential information system was only made possible through extra-budgetary support from the Fund, as it received no resources from UNESCO’s Regular Programme, as probably it should. Part C: ‘International cooperation mechanisms of the 2003 Convention and decisions of its Governing Bodies effectively implemented and cooperation with external partners promoted.’This covered a multitude of different of activities, which included the support provided to category 2 centres, especially last year with the second coordination meeting of the eight category 2 centres. The Secretariat provided continuous exchange and support to guide the centres in the development of their programmes, including participating in their respective boards. During the last year, it also helped coordinate the first evaluation conducted on a category 2 centre, CRESPIAL in Peru, to propose to the Executive Board its renewal. The same work was currently being conducted on a second centre in Japan.
72.The Secretary also mentioned the work carried out on an experimental basis in which the Secretariat provided technical assistance for the preparation of International Assistance. It was recalled that there was a paradox in that the ICH Fund had 60% of its budget dedicated to International Assistance but few States requested this assistance, and even fewer States obtained it. The Committee had thus invited the Secretariat to provide technical support to those States requesting International Assistance in order to increase their chances of obtaining financial assistance. This technical assistance benefitted three States, and was comprised of either extensive correspondence until the project appeared to be satisfactory, or the provision of experts who made country visits to discuss the project with the partners. For example, collaboration with Côte d'Ivoire was underway and even resulted in the submission of a request for International Assistance. The Secretary hoped that this process would continue so that more countries could benefit from International Assistance. Finally, in this part of her presentation, the Secretary made a comment on visibility and awareness activities, which, as the Secretary admitted, suffered most in terms of declining resources and staff. The reason for reducing here was simple; intangible cultural heritage needed little work on visibility from the Secretariat since States already provided good visibility, and thus less human and financial resources were attributed to it. Nevertheless, the Secretariat continued to publish the Lists on the Convention website. Brochures on Best Safeguarding Practices and the Urgent Safeguarding List were also produced but as online publications, since paper publications required a lot of work and funds. Finally, Part D: ‘Capacity-building programme strengthened to effectively support countries in developing their national policies and human and institutional resources for intangible cultural heritage.’This was considered as probably the most important part of the report, as it provided updates on the capacity-building programme. The Secretary spoke about the logic of long-term actions at national level that begin with needs assessments, and the deployment of multi-year activities for each country, rather than a regional approach. She explained that the national approach appeared to be the sole approach that could accurately respond to the specific multiple needs of a State. Therefore, the national approach was priviledged and considered more durable in terms of results than the regional approach, even if the latter may sometimes be less costly.
73.The Secretary noted that the Secretariat had made progress regarding two aspects that had been specifically requested by the Committee. First, to give more support to countries to develop their policies and legislation relating to intangible cultural heritage. It was recalled that this was a recommendation of the evaluation of the Convention conducted in 2013, which was taken on board by the Committee, which recommended that the programme focused on this issue. The Secretariat therefore implemented initiatives in this regard, as outlined in the accompanying document, and actions had already been implemented on the ground. The Secretary was delighted to learn that the NGOs had talked about the same issue yesterday, i.e. on how they could participate in this process, which was obviously extremely important at the macro level of a State in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The second axis concerned adapting the content and format of the capacity-building strategy to address the key challenges at national level. It was noted that the training materials were already being revised, on such aspects as sustainable development and the relationship between gender and intangible cultural heritage, and other specific aspects. The Secretary informed the Committee that during the year, the strategy had been implemented in 38 countries worldwide, and that preparatory work, essentially needs assessments, were underway in eight countries. It was noted that these activities were the result of close collaboration between the ICH Section, all the regional field offices, and the network of nearly 80 facilitators around the world that had been trained in the use of the training materials, delivering the capacity-building services. In this regard, the Secretary informed the Committee that during the Committee meeting, information sessions on the capacity-building programme would take place at lunchtime throughout the week. The sessions had been grouped around the Electoral Groups, starting with Electoral Groups V(a) and V(b) on Tuesday, Group III on Wednesday, Group IV on Thursday, and Groups I and II on Friday. The Secretary wished to stress that capacity-building was not only for developing countries, with many developed countries asking to benefit from the capacity-building programme, which they were asked to finance themselves. The Secretary took the opportunity to thank all the donors and partners who supported the Secretariat in its efforts to build capacity because even if it was considered the most important priority for the Convention, as recognized by the evaluation, it also received least funds from the Regular Programme. Thus, the programme of this magnitude was solely possible with the support of the many donors whose combined efforts allowed the programme to continue.
74.The Secretary also took the opportunity to recall the remarks made by the Assistant Director-General for Culture in his introduction, in which he understood the expectations of the Committee, but that there was also a need to adjust to the actual capacity of the Secretariat. It was noted that the workload of the Secretariat was greater than its capacity in terms of human and financial resources. The Secretary thus invited those who wished to support the Convention through extrabudgetary contributions to also support the Secretariat’s human resources through the dedicated sub-fund. The Secretary greatly appreciated the support of States that wished to strengthen the Secretariat in the form of secondments of associate experts. However, these missions, for two, three or four years, required substantial investment in terms of training, which was quickly lost when the experts had to cease collaboration. The Secretary understood that the State would later benefit from the expert, and that it was easier to contribute in this way than paying funds directly, but this was the only means for the Secretariat to keep people in place for a much longer period. For example, the Secretariat had lost two experts between July and September from Japan and Spain. The Secretary thus reiterated the need to raise funds to enable the Secretariat to have more stable staff, and to calibrate the expectations of the Committee. She cited the example of Latvia that spoke of the importance of producing summaries and so on, but this required personnel to carry out the work. The Secretariat was simply not numerous enough to continue to provide the service it had offered so far. For instance, many States submitting nominations to the 2015 cycle were still receiving in November 2014 additional information request letters on their nominations when they should have been sent in June 2014. The Secretary spoke of the innumerable tasks of the Secretariat, and hoped that the Committee would keep this in mind during its deliberations, adding that decisions impacted on the Secretariat’s ability to cope.
75.The Vice-Chair thanked the Secretary for the report of the Secretariat’s activities, expressing particular gratitude to the Secretariat for its dedication and service to the Convention under such difficult circumstances, despite secondments by several countries. This was especially acute given the current situation at UNESCO. The Vice-Chair opened the floor for observations or comments.
76.The delegation of Latvia expressed its sincere appreciation of the Secretariat’s work, adding that there were two aspects to which it wished to draw attention. Firstly, as already mentioned during the general debate, there were various UNESCO Field Offices that have a role to play with the implementation of the Convention. In this regard, it invited the Secretariat to consider this point in future reports. The second aspect concerned the network of UNESCO Chairs in various academic institutions worldwide. The delegation noted that attention had been drawn to the work of category 2 centres, and thus felt that these important networks should also be further explored in the areas of UNESCO’s work, taking into consideration the decision just taken that education is a major emphasis in the State Parties’ reports. The involvement of UNESCO Chairs might thus be considered.
77.The delegation of the Republic of Korea expressed its sincere thanks to the Secretariat for its hard work in the implementation of the Convention since the last Committee session, despite the current financial constraints. It highly appreciated the Secretariat's efforts to promote the capacity-building programme, adding that this was one of the primary responsibilities of the Secretariat. It was important that the capacity-building programme be implemented in the context of regional and national circumstances. In this regard, it hoped the Secretariat would review and adapt the content and format of the programme in order to effectively respond to the implementation challenges at the national, regional and local level. Moreover, the delegation mentioned its interest in supporting the capacity-building efforts of developing countries, in particular in the Asia-Pacific region. With regard to the limited human resources of the Secretariat, the delegation hoped that the Secretariat would develop ways to fully utilize UNESCO’s existing resources and networks. For example, the regional offices, the category 2 centres, and the accredited NGOs, all of whom could be very helpful for an effective implementation of the global strategy for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, reflecting the regional and national contexts.
78.The delegation of Turkey endorsed the previous comments, commending the Secretariat for its efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the Convention, despite the human resources and budgetary restrictions. It was particularly pleased with the Secretariat's proactive approach with regard to raising awareness about the Convention, and it strongly encouraged the Secretariat’s work on much-needed capacity-building, as well as its role as coordinator for sharing best practices and experience. The delegation welcomed the Secretariat’s initiatives in the field of organizing and coordinating meetings of category 2 centres, adding that it would continue to participate actively in these centres. It was thus of utmost importance to better coordinate with the Convention's external partners in order to raise UNESCO's visibility among non-governmental institutions, particularly academic institutions. For this reason, the delegation proposed to insert a new paragraph to the draft decision to encourage the establishment of UNESCO Chairs in the universities, as well as greater cooperation in graduate studies in those universities interested in the work of UNESCO; a direction it would fully endorse.
79.The delegation of Bulgaria congratulated the Chairperson and the Secretariat, and – as a recently elected Member of the Committee – sought to have a constructive and positive impact on the Committee’s work. It spoke of the pleasure of reading the Secretariat’s report, adding that it had the same feeling when reading its report to the General Assembly in June 2014 in that it demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of the Secretariat despite its limited human and financial resources, a situation that should be addressed by all Member States. It spoke of the very important challenges and decisions that the Committee had to take in order to increase the efficiency of the Convention’s implementation at the national level. The delegation agreed with Latvia that greater use of the field offices and the UNESCO Chairs might help increase the efficiency of implementation, as well as increase its awareness, especially among young people. In addition, it was very important to further strengthen the work of the regional category 2 centres, such as the one in Bulgaria that collaborated with countries from South-East Europe, adding that the centre was trying to adapt its activities to the new challenges and to function more efficiently. Moreover, more countries were requesting to join the centre, and it took the opportunity to thank the Secretariat for its useful guidance in this regard, especially Mr Frank Proschan. Finally, the delegation believed that it was crucial to focus on the issue of supporting countries to elaborate their national policies and legislation, as without a good policy or legal base, it was very difficult for local communities to be efficient in implementing safeguarding measures and thus ensure the transmission of intangible cultural heritage to future generations.
80.The delegation of Bahamas [observer] congratulated the Secretariat on its in-depth and comprehensive report, adding that it was extremely encouraging and heart warming to see the emphasis placed on capacity building. The delegation remarked that the Bahamas had become a State Party to three of UNESCO's Conventions in May 2104, including the 2003 Convention. It was thus its first time at a Committee meeting and – as a new State Party – it realized the great need for capacity building in the Bahamas to help put together a strategy for managing this Convention so that it could work as effectively as possible. It further remarked that it had worked with the Regional Office in Jamaica in the preparation of its ratification of the Convention, and as such was willing to work with other countries in the region on joint projects in terms of capacity development. The delegation thus supported UNESCO and its work, especially within this Convention.
81.Thanking the Ambassador, the Vice-Chair welcomed and congratulated the Bahamas for its first attendance to a Committee meeting, adding that it was clear that the Bahamas had already developed a lot of enthusiasm for the Convention.
82.The delegation of Namibia thanked the Secretariat for its report, which outlined the activities of the Secretariat since the last Committee meeting. It further commended the Secretariat on the level of detail in some of the activities presented in the report, adding that the Secretariat had done considerably well despite the obvious human and financial challenges it faced under the current Regular Programme and Budget. It was noted that the implementation of the capacity-building strategy was going well, and it urged the Secretariat to continue offering assistance to Member States, especially those in developing countries, to implement good, harmonized legislation to protect intangible cultural heritage. For Namibia, the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is of great importance and a priority under the current strategic plan of the Ministry of Youth and National Sports and Culture. To that effect, Namibia – with the assistance of the Convention Secretariat – had begun an inventorying process since 2012. The delegation particularly appreciated the work carried out in the training of trainers, adding that this approach strengthened the local capacities of Member States, both at national and community level. It spoke of two training sessions that had taken place in April 2012 in Water Bay, funded by the Millennium Development Fund, and one in September to October 2012, funded by the Government of Flanders and the Republic of Namibia through a new initiative called the Southern African Intangible Cultural Heritage Strategy. The purpose of the training was to increase capacities in creating awareness of the Convention at the national level, which involved communities using local languages in promoting the goals of the Convention. The increased community involvement and participation at grassroots level was part of the training. The communities would then be involved in training others in the next exercise, which would focus on inventorying, nominations, and financial assistance requests, among others. The delegation also appreciated the approach by the Secretariat in terms of technical assistance to Member States in developing International Assistance requests. It acknowledged that the same methodology was also being tested in another Convention with varying outcomes in Namibia, and it looked forward to the outcome of the trial period of this approach. It appreciated the improvements made in the implementation of the Convention and the working methods of the Secretariat, and it sought to know more on how the introduction of the Conventions Common Services Team had impacted on the work of the Secretariat. In addition, it appreciated the initiative taken by the Secretariat in organizing the second coordination meeting of the category 2 centres and, in this regard, sought information on the reception by the centres on aligning their work plans to the expected results of UNESCO. Furthermore, it wished to know about the follow-up steps to that meeting, if any, as well as capacity-building and peer-to-peer platforms to those institutions, especially in developing countries that were not part of the category 2 centres, but were nevertheless stakeholders in the implementation of the Convention. Finally, the delegation noted with great concern the inability of the Secretariat to meet the deadlines set out in the Operational Directives in the treatment of files. It believed that this trend, if not soon reversed, would affect the Committee’s work in examining files in the future. In this regard, it wished to know about measures that the Secretariat could offer to bring this situation under control.
83.The delegation of Hungary warmly welcomed the Chairperson, the Secretariat, the Committee and the observers, especially the NGOs, asking that efforts be continued such as technical assistance for strengthening international assistance and for encouraging countries to conduct capacity-building. It concluded by thanking everyone for the customary excellent preparation of the meeting.
84.The delegation of Saint Lucia joined the other Members in thanking the Secretariat for its hard work in difficult conditions, with particular thanks for the quality of the documents, which should not be taken for granted. The delegation particularly thanked the Secretariat for the summary records, adding that they were the best it had seen in UNESCO. This allowed newcomers to the Committee to follow the Committee meetings, allowing them to feel as if they had attended with the same shared level of information. It asked the Secretary to explain the percentage of the Secretariat’s time spent on implementing other activities, such as policy advice and capacity-building, compared to nominations process.
85.The delegation of Uruguay agreed with the previous speakers, voicing its strong support of the Secretariat for its hard and high-quality work. It stressed the importance of capacity-building and the transmission of the Convention’s objectives through education at various levels within the States Parties’ national legislation. It thanked the Secretary for its guidance and cooperation in its work in various aspects relating to the Convention, and it looked forward to the possibility of receiving specific training in Uruguay.
86.The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire thanked the Chairperson for his exemplary conduct of the proceedings, congratulating the Secretariat for the report and the quality and quantity of its work, as well as for the capacity-building activities. The delegation congratulated the Secretary for her availability and reliability exercised in the elaboration of its International Assistance request, adding that it remained open to suggestions and criticisms.
87.The delegation of Myanmar [observer] felt honoured to participate at its first session as an Observer, taking the opportunity to express its appreciation of the UNESCO Bangkok Office, UNESCO, and the Norwegian Government for supporting activities such as its successive workshops since 2013. The delegation added that strengthening the capacities of its country in implementing the Convention was very much a priority concern. The government was currently taking into account the Convention, and it acknowledged the support of UNESCO's capacity-building workshops, which had been effective in the country’s ratification of the Convention and its inventory-making. The financial support provided by the Norwegian Government to safeguard its intangible cultural heritage was also very much appreciated. In this vein, it called upon all parties to continue supporting the country in its implementation of the Convention at the national level, as well as the community-based inventorying of its elements of intangible cultural heritage.
88.As a newly elected Member of the Committee, the delegation of Mongolia commended the Chairperson and the Secretariat for the work accomplished this year, adding that it was an active member of the Convention and that it supported the Committee and the Secretariat. This year, Mongolia had organized the Asian regional seminar on documentation of intangible cultural heritage, and it had submitted its report on its inscribed intangible cultural heritage. It hoped that the Secretariat and the Member States would continue its cooperation in the field of capacity-building and in the development of human resources in the field of intangible cultural heritage.
89.The delegation of Niger [observer] offered encouragement to the Chairperson in his forthcoming work, adding that it had followed the Secretariat’s report with keen interest. It spoke of the pertinent work presented in the report, noting three key points: the capacity-building programme; the legal framework; and the technical assistance afforded to States Parties by the Secretariat. In this regard, the delegation strongly encouraged the Secretariat to continue its efforts, particularly its focus on capacity-building and the strengthening of the legal framework, especially for developing States, as this significantly contributed to the implementation of the Convention. It congratulated once again the Secretariat for all the efforts deployed in support of the Convention.
90.The delegation of Portugal [observer] thanked the Chairperson for his chairmanship, adding that – as an Observer – it was learning from the Secretariat and the Committee on how it could contribute to the implementation of this important Convention. It thanked the Secretariat for its work and for the quality of its documents, which allowed it to follow the specific work of the Convention and to contribute to it more fully in the future. It also commended the Secretariat for assisting States in their submission of files, despite the current difficulties, which helps to improve the submissions as much as possible so as to achieve a positive result.
91.The delegation of India extended its appreciation of the work carried out by the Secretariat, adding that its intangible cultural heritage agency, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, had this year placed huge emphasis on the capacity-building programme. In October 2014, the agency hosted a seminar and workshop for the SAARC countries2 on capacity-building and several other issues of intangible cultural heritage. It was noted that between the 3rd and 5th of December, the Sangeet Natak Akademi was also holding a capacity-building workshop with the UNESCO Office in Delhi calling on all NGOs and other State representatives across India to raise awareness and build capacity among government officials working with intangible cultural heritage and its implementation.
92.The delegation of Eritrea [observer] commended the Secretariat, under the leadership of Ms Duvelle, for its wonderful job in promoting the Convention. As a signatory of the Convention since October 2010, Eritrea had recently embarked on implementing the Convention through support offered by the Secretariat thanks to a contribution from Norway. It added that it had yet to sign the agreement, through the UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi, but that the technicalities had been finalised. It spoke of the importance of attending the meeting in order to learn about the implementation process, as well as other important points, including capacity-building and the elaboration of heritage-related legislation for which it required technical assistance. It was thankful for the assistance it had received thus far.
93.The Vice-Chair thanked Eritrea for its update on the implementation process.
94.The delegation of Mauritania [observer] congratulated the Chairperson for his exemplary chairmanship, and thanked the Secretariat for its continued support of its work in the implementation of the Convention. Mauritania was aware that the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was both a vector for safeguarding, but also a vector for development. In this regard, it thanked the Secretariat and Norway for supporting the capacity-building programme, adding that its work was in line with the Convention in that it was currently reviewing the composition of the Intangible Heritage National Committee to include several departments concerned with development. It thus believed it was time to reform some national laws on intangible heritage because they are tied to a number of laws that managed other aspects of national development and economics. The delegation relied on the support of the Secretariat in the revision of these national laws, adding that it also relied on in its regional category 2 centre based in Algiers.
95.Noting the time, the Vice-Chair proposed to suspend the discussion, inviting the Secretary to make some announcements.
96.The Secretary reminded the delegates of the NGO meeting during the lunch break, and the need to obtain an entry badge. Also, delegates that had received financial assistance to participate in the present session were asked to request reimbursements.