128.The Chairperson moved to agenda item 7, inviting the Secretary to present the item.
129.The Secretary remarked that document 7 had been revised in order to include a second generous contribution to the Fund from the Netherlands, which arrived on October 23; just four days before the statutory deadline for publication of the document. The Committee was therefore invited to approve the two additional voluntary contributions, in accordance with Article 25.5 of the Convention, which allowed contributions to the Fund to be assigned to specific projects, provided the Committee approved those projects. It was noted that the first contribution from Azerbaijan, and the second from the Netherlands, would support the capacity-building programme. The Secretary reminded the Committee that the report on the use of the funds by the donors was presented annually to the Committee and biennially to the General Assembly, which also outlined other expenses of the Fund that were not dedicated to capacity-building. Narrative reports of these activities were available online on a dedicated web page with the details of all the projects implemented with these funds, as well as from other financial sources such as Funds-in-Trust. The financial reports on these activities could be found in Annex II and III of the document INF.6, attached to the previous item, but which also affected certain activities implemented within this framework. The Secretary recalled Decision 7.COM 20.1 that recognized other ways to support the Convention, which should be reported to the Committee at each session. Financial or in-kind support was also noted in the report in Annex I of document 7.REV covering the period from the eighth session of the Committee to September 2014, or slightly less than 12 months reporting. The Secretary spoke of a new feature (in Annex IV of the document) that was introduced for the sake of both transparency and efficiency. Annex IV included the concept note for the Complementary Additional Programme (CAP) 2014–2017 entitled ‘Strengthening capacities to safeguard intangible cultural heritage for sustainable development’.The CAP projects were developed to complement the resources of UNESCO’s Regular Programme, which must be perfectly aligned with its objectives. It thus seemed logical that the Committee, as the receiver of funds, should endorse the CAP, which would ensure that the Committee did not have a different vision from the ICH Programme as approved by the UNESCO General Conference. The Annex therefore provided an overview of the programme so that the Committee could approve it and allow the Secretariat to receive any contribution during the year in full knowledge, and thus not have to wait several months to use the money that had been put forward. In this way, the Secretariat would not have to wait for the Committee to simply accept the contributions and it could enter the CAP programme and the capacity-building framework, so that it could be paid into the Fund and support the intangible cultural heritage projects within its scope. Evidently, the Committee would always remain informed. The Secretary gave the example of the contribution by Azerbaijan, which was offered in May or June 2014, but which could not be utilized without the formal acceptance of the Committee during the current session. Thus, by adopting the general framework of the CAP, which was the sole project conducted in line with the C/5 and its priority on capacity-building, the work of the Committee, the Executive Board and the General Conference would be more logical and aligned with the only reference document that guided its work, namely, the 37 C/5, and soon to be 38 C/5, as approved by the UNESCO General Conference. The explanation thus outlined this minor innovations, and the Committee was now called upon to accept the generous offer by Azerbaijan and the Netherlands in support of the capacity-building programme.
130.The Chairpersonthanked the Secretary for the clear explication, and was happy to note that Azerbaijan and the Netherlands had placed their trust in the Convention and the Committee. The Chairperson then invited Azerbaijan and the Netherlands to take the floor.
131.The delegation of Azerbaijan spoke of its pleasure on the occasion of its first contribution to the ICH Fund aimed at increasing capacity in Bangladesh and Guatemala to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage for sustainable development. It was noted that this contribution was part of the multi-layer framework agreement on cooperation that was signed in 2013 between the government of Azerbaijan and UNESCO, and was thus a logical consequence of the priorities established under this agreement. It also explained that Azerbaijan had provided continuous support to the Convention by enhancing the human capacities of the Secretariat for four years, only this time its contribution would go to fieldwork activities and thus help the two countries revise their policies and legislation, and readapt their institutional infrastructure with a view to safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage. It believed that both projects would raise awareness about intangible cultural heritage among communities at local and national level and – crucially – enable institutions in Bangladesh and Guatemala to respond more effectively to specifically safeguard their intangible cultural heritage. Azerbaijan was particularly committed to supporting challenges of social and environmental sustainability, and transmitting intangible cultural heritage, particularly in view of the post-2015 Development Agenda. It also believed that capacity-building, which addressed the specific needs of beneficiary countries, should remain the highest priority in the implementation of the Convention. In this regard, it commended the Secretariat for its work in advancing the global capacity-building strategy. It also thanked the Secretariat for its careful attention in identifying the needs and challenges of Bangladesh and Guatemala. Moreover, It was noted in the report that the capacity-building project would first be implemented in Bangladesh with funds provided to build their capacities, while in the case of Guatemala in-kind support would assist the follow-up activities that had already been initiated by the Secretariat. The delegation thus believed that it was important to provide continuity in UNESCO’s capacity-building efforts, adding that it remained committed to supporting the implementation of the Convention. Finally, it congratulated Bangladesh and Guatemala, expressing its confidence that its contribution would bring substantial results in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.
132.The Chairperson invited the Netherlands to speak, if it so wished, remarking that this was its second such contribution.
133.The delegation of Netherlands congratulated the Chairperson on his chairmanship, hoping for fruitful discussions in the coming days, and gave thanks to the Secretariat for its work. The delegation was of the opinion that UNESCO’s global capacity-building programme was very important for the Convention, as all States Parties required the capacity to fully implement the Convention. This meant integrating safeguarding measures in cultural and other policies to create an infrastructure for safeguarding, as well as in the design of inventory methods in cooperation with the communities. Governments, in cooperation with NGOs, were said to be key players in this process: a topic that had been discussed in the previous day’s NGO Forum. The delegation fully agreed with the evaluation report that the success of the Convention depended on its implementation at all levels. It also noted that this was a time-consuming process, and why the continuation of the capacity-building programme was crucial so as to involve all stakeholders, and thus obtain lasting results. This was also the case for capacity-building projects in the Caribbean islands and Suriname, which were now on-going. The delegation also hoped to remain regularly informed of the progress of the projects so as to learn from the results.
134.The Chairperson supposed that the Committee would be enthusiastic about the new prospects opened up by these generous contributions, expressing his gratitude to the States for their support of the Convention and to the Secretariat, since the last meeting of the Committee, including Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Spain, Georgia, Japan, Monaco, Norway, Turkey and the Norwegian Centre for Traditional Music and Dance. The Chairperson pointed out that eight of the contributors had chosen to support a funding mechanism that was important for the proper functioning of the Convention, its governance, and implementation at the national level. This sub-fund was created by the General Assembly in 2010 in response to the modest human resources available to the Secretariat at that time. The Chairperson expressed gratitude to those donors, particularly as – since its creation – the sub-fund had only received a quarter of what was required, as identified by the General Assembly. This left a significant shortfall to complete, with the Chairperson recalling that in March 2014, the Director-General had addressed a circular letter (CL/4053) to all Member States calling for their support, explicitly mentioning the sub-fund. The Chairperson gave the floor to the delegation of Congo and then to the delegation of Suriname.
135.The delegation of Congo congratulated the Netherlands and Azerbaijan for their generosity, which would go to help the two countries in safeguarding their intangible cultural heritage. Nevertheless, it noted that many delegations had spoken about the urgent need for capacity-building and suggested that future donors remain neutral, i.e. that they did not designate beneficiary States as there were many countries in perhaps even greater need. The delegation believed that the best way to safeguard intangible cultural heritage was to provide the funds to those countries in need based on their requirements. Concluding, It reiterated that donors should provide funds anonymously without specifying beneficiaries.
136.The delegation of Suriname thanked the Netherlands for its voluntary and supplementary contribution towards reinforcing capacity-building in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean islands. Suriname had not yet ratified the Convention yet it recognized its importance and had already started internal processes for future ratification. Moreover, Suriname would actively participate in developing international cooperation for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the future.
137.The Chairperson turned to the adoption of the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. Paragraph 1 merely quoted the document just examined, which was duly adopted. Paragraph 2 recalled the article of the Convention on which the Committee relied to accept both voluntary contributions to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, which was duly adopted. Paragraph 3 commended Azerbaijan for its support. Paragraph 4 accepted this contribution, and at the same time asked the Secretariat to take charge in implementing this project in close cooperation with national counterparts in Bangladesh and Guatemala, both paragraphs were duly adopted. Paragraph 5 commended the Netherlands, and paragraph 6 accepted this second contribution, asking the Secretariat to take charge in implementing this project in close cooperation with national counterparts of the Dutch Caribbean islands and Surinam, both paragraphs were duly adopted. Paragraph 7 recognized that many countries still required capacity-building to implement the Convention. Paragraph 8 was important because it would approve the Concept Note for the 2014–2017 Complementary Additional Programme, which defined the basic principles of the strategy to strengthen capacities. It accepted any voluntary contributions that would be made between two Committee sessions, provided it fell within the programme framework. The paragraphs were duly adopted. As voluntary contributions to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund can now be accepted between two sessions, paragraph 9 requested the Secretariat to report to the Committee at its next session on new contributions that might have been received. Paragraph 10 took note that other forms of support exist and are used by other States. Paragraph 11 thanked the contributors. Finally, paragraph 12 encouraged States to offer support. All the paragraphs were duly adopted. The Chairperson thus declared Decision 9.COM 7 adopted.
138.The delegation of Brazil noted that the delegations had already applauded the approval of the decision, but wished to suggest that the Committee and the States Parties express gratitude to all the countries that had provided supplementary voluntary contributions to the Fund to foster cooperation for intangible cultural heritage with a round of applause.
[Round of applause]
139.The Chairperson thanked Brazil for its proposal and invited the beneficiary countries to say a few words.
140.The delegation of Guatemala expressed special gratitude for the important and effective work carried out by the Secretariat over many years in promoting and safeguarding the world’s intangible cultural heritage. Guatemala was deeply involved in this work and fully identified itself as a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual country. The delegation explained that the government authorities continued to work actively in the development and safeguarding of the different cultural expressions at the sub-regional level, as well as within the regional, continental and global agendas. It welcomed the decision of the Committee on the capacity-building programme in Guatemala, and was honoured and grateful to Azerbaijan that had – through these voluntary contributions – enabled the implementation of its training programmes. In this way, the country would be able to support efforts to achieve the Convention’s goals and to rise to the challenge of safeguarding intangible heritage in Guatemala. The delegation also thanked the Spanish government that had contributed significantly to the training of officials responsible for intangible cultural heritage. Finally, it reiterated its commitment to the Convention, adding that it would continue to contribute to the Convention for its continual improvement.
141.The delegation of Bangladesh congratulated the chairmanship and expressed appreciation of the Secretariat for its sincere efforts in organizing this meeting in an efficient manner despite existing financial restraints. It also expressed its sincere thanks to the Committee for approving the decision on the voluntary supplementary contribution of Azerbaijan, further expressing its sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to the government of Azerbaijan for its generous offer to support programmes in Bangladesh for strengthening national capacities for the sustainable safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage. Bangladesh as a new State in an ancient land was fortunate to have diverse elements of intangible cultural heritage, but it also had dire need of expertise to safeguard intangible heritage for sustainable development. Hence, international assistance for capacity-building was greatly needed. It firmly believed that this programme with its integrated approach would be able to fulfil specific needs in addressing the issues related to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, and would thus enhance expertise in Bangladesh to submit nominations to the Representative List. It hoped that the generous offer from Azerbaijan could help bring change in this regard. It also hoped that the capacity-building programme involving developing countries would prove to be an important mechanism to support the implementation of the Convention.
142.The Chairperson called upon all States Parties to consider the possibility of following in the footsteps of those to whom the Committee had expressed its gratitude, but given the unprecedented financial constraints faced by UNESCO’s Regular Programme, to also support the human capacity of the Secretariat through the sub-fund that had been specifically established for this purpose.