GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATES PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION
UNESCO Headquarters, Room II
30 May to 1 June 2016
SUMMARY RECORDS OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UNESCO Headquarters, 2 to 4 June 2014
The fifth session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, from 2 to 4 June 2014. Representatives of 102 States Parties to the Convention participated in the meeting, as well as representatives of 4 Member States of UNESCO non-party to the Convention,
2 intergovernmental organizations, 6 category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO, and
50 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The session was held in the six working languages of the General Assembly: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The Section of Intangible Cultural Heritage provided the Secretariat for the meeting.
[Monday 2 June 2014, morning session]
ITEM 1 OF THE PROVISIONAL AGENDA:
OPENING OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
The fifth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was officially opened and presided by Mr Francesco Bandarin, the Assistant Director-General for Culture. After welcoming the delegates to UNESCO Headquarters, Mr Bandarin began by apologizing for the impractical configuration of the meeting room, while informing participants that the debates would be interpreted in the six official languages of the meeting and all debates webcast in English, French and Spanish. He recalled that the General Assembly was taking place more than a decade after the adoption of the Convention in October 2003, following the very successful celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Convention in 2013 – an event that highlighted the great achievements and vision that inspired the Convention. The Convention had
161 ratifying States or 85 per cent of the total membership of UNESCO, proof that it had attracted tremendous public interest and delivered tangible results for the safeguarding of the world’s living heritage. The Convention had changed the way people thought about cultural heritage, the importance attached to living heritage and significantly, perception of its communities as legitimate bearers. The Convention’s preamble recalled that intangible cultural heritage was a guarantee of sustainable development, and that it played an essential role in countless areas of human life. Moreover, safeguarding living heritage was about helping people to continue benefitting from the wealth of knowledge, skills and values that were fundamental to their well-being. Mr Bandarin quoted the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who had once said that there was no ‘one size fits all’ development model and that we needed to adapt to each context. In this way, the Convention was an important tool in the process of adaptation of development models to the different local and regional situations.
Mr Bandarin informed the delegates that in the last month, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, together with the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, had organized a thematic debate on culture and development in order to mobilize support from the international community on the importance of culture for development. Mr Bandarin added that the Convention, in its second decade, could present opportunities and avenues worth pursuing, which would ensure that it became a true instrument of sustainable development. The coming days would present such an opportunity, as the delegations would address these issues and provide concrete and ambitious responses, which would also take into account the limits within which it operated. Mr Bandarin took the opportunity to thank all those who had helped UNESCO fulfil its mission in this regard and in particular the donors whose support strengthened national capacity in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage for a growing number of countries. He acknowledged, in particular, States that had provided much needed support to the Secretariat. Mr Bandarin concluded his opening statement by declaring the fifth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage open, wishing participants an excellent meeting.
The Secretary of the Convention, Ms Cécile Duvelle, welcomed the delegates, assuring the Assembly that the problem of lack of space would soon be resolved, and informed the Assembly that the meeting would benefit from interpretation in the six official languages of UNESCO and, for environmental and cost saving reasons no documents would be distributed in the room. All documentation in the six working languages was available online facilitated by Wi-Fi access. With regard to the list of participants, the Secretary understood that there had been problems encountered in the registration process but that a register had become available at the entrance to the meeting room, which delegates were urged to sign, as the attendance record was useful for the future. Finally, the Secretary noted that there were 475 people registered to attend the session, comprising 102 States Parties, 4 observer States non-party to the Convention, and 50 accredited NGOs.
Mr Bandarin thanked the Secretary for the useful practical information, noting that the huge representation of delegates confirmed once again the interest of Member States in the life of the Convention. Mr Bandarin proposed that the floor for general statements be opened following the election of the Bureau.
ITEM 2 OF THE PROVISIONAL AGENDA:
ELECTION OF THE BUREAU OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Resolution: 5.GA 2
The Secretary made reference to Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly that defines the election of aChairperson'> Chairperson, one or more Vice-Chairpersons and a Rapporteur. The Chairperson and the Rapporteur are elected in their individual capacity, whereas States are elected as Vice-Chairpersons. Although not required, the custom had always been to ensure that each of the six electoral groups be included in the Bureau in the spirit of equitable geographical representation. However, the Secretary recalled that the Bureau of the fourth session of the General Assembly in 2012 was comprised of seven members, with Belgium from Group I acting as both Vice-Chairperson and Rapporteur, which did not oppose the Rules of Procedure. It was noted that the duty of the Rapporteur was to verify the accuracy of the decisions taken by the General Assembly and not to deliver a final global report.
Mr Bandarin understood that informal consultations had taken place among Member States in the selection of the candidates. He then invited the electoral groups to quickly consult together to propose a Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson and a Rapporteur.
The delegation of Hungary wished to make an open statement on behalf of many of the delegations about their concerns regarding the working conditions, owing to the relatively small size of the meeting room. The delegation explained that the General Assembly was considered by Member States as one of the most important events in UNESCO and that it was thus unfair that seats had been limited to one expert when several delegations were represented by a number of experts. It urged the Secretariat to quickly resolve the situation.
The delegation of Yemen supported the statement by Hungary.
Mr Bandarin fully agreed with the remarks, adding that UNESCO colleagues were striving to resolve the situation in order to provide better working conditions in the coming days.
[A 15-minute pause in the session for consultations]
Mr Bandarin invited the Assembly to nominate its candidate to serve as Chairperson.
The delegation of Yemen thanked Mr Bandarin for his earlier intervention regarding the meeting room, and on behalf of Group V(b) proposed H.E. Mr Awad Ali Saleh from the delegation of the United Arab Emirates, which was seconded by Palestine.
Noting there were no further nominations, Mr Bandarin invited H.E Mr Awad Ali Saleh to the podium to take up his function as Chairperson of the General Assembly.
The Chairperson, H.E Mr Awad Ali Saleh, spoke of his great sense of honour to be nominated for such an important task and, in Arabic, said that he was proud and honoured to have won the confidence of the Arab Group, as well as support from all the electoral groups. Having chaired the Intergovernmental Committee during its fourth session in Abu Dhabi he understood the great responsibility that was bestowed on him. He was nonetheless surprised by the nomination, but was happy to accept the responsibility even though he was not entirely prepared, and would thus rely on the support of the Arab Group and the delegations. He concluded with sincere thanks, assuring the Assembly that he would do his utmost to ensure the meeting’s success.
The Chairperson invited nominations for a Rapporteur.
The delegation of Sweden proposed Ms Panagiota Andrianopoulou from Greece.
The delegation of Turkey expressed its profound satisfaction with the Chairperson’s election, and also seconded Greece’s candidature to the post of Rapporteur.
The Chairperson congratulated Ms Andrianopoulou from Greece as the next Rapporteur, and he moved to the election of the Vice-Chairpersons, whose role it was to assist and replace the Chairperson as required, and serve on the Bureau.
The delegation of Argentina congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and on behalf of electoral Group III proposed Brazil as Vice-Chairperson.
On behalf of Group II, the delegation of Lithuania proposed the Czech Republic.
On behalf of Group IV, the delegation of the Philippines nominated Malaysia.
On behalf of Group V(a), the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Congo nominated Congo as Vice-Chairperson.
On behalf of Group I, the delegation of Sweden nominated Norway as Vice-Chairperson.
Noting the election procedures had come to an end, the Chairperson invited the Assembly to adopt resolution 5. GA 2 as displayed on the screen. With no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Resolution 5.GA 2 adopted. Before moving to the next item, the Chairperson opened the floor for general statements.
With no statements forthcoming, the Chairperson invited the Secretary to introduce the provisional agenda.
ITEM 3 OF THE PROVISIONAL AGENDA:
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA OF THE FIFTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Document: ITH/14/5.GA/INF.3.1 Rev.2
Document: ITH/14/5.GA/INF.3.2 Rev.6
The Secretary explained that two kinds of documents had been prepared for the session with the customary attribution of document references. The first type comprised the working documents, provided in the six official languages, and the second comprised information (.INF) documents. Working documents were linked to the corresponding draft resolutions, whereas information documents (in English and French only) were for consultation purposes. The Secretary drew attention to the first information document (INF.1), which contained the summary records of the fourth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties. Item 3 (on the adoption of the agenda) comprised three documents: i) the agenda; ii) the provisional timetable of the Assembly’s work; and iii) the provisional list of documents which had been revised four times in the course of updating other documents. The Secretary reiterated that all the final documents had been made available online. There were 12 items included in the agenda for the session, of which the working documents had been made available on 3 May (or 30 days before the opening of the session), as per the deadline set up by the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly.
The Secretary continued with the sub-items related to the different reports in agenda item 4: i) the report of the Committee to the General Assembly on its activities between
June 2012 and June 2014 (ITH/15/5.GA/4.1) and ii) the report of the Committee on the implementation of the Convention and the current status of all elements inscribed on the Representative List (4.2). The Secretary informed the Assembly that both reports had been examined by the Committee beforehand and iii) the report (4.3) of the Secretariat on its activities between June 2012 and June 2014. Item 4 also included an information document reporting on the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Convention (INF.4.3). Agenda item 5 had two sub-items: i) relating to the substantive revision of the Operational Directives (5.1) which covered a number of amendments that had been recommended by the Committee and ii) the terminological revisions and alignment of the different linguistic versions of the Operational Directives (5.2) which proposed amendments across the six linguistic versions of the Operational Directives for the sake of harmonizing terminology and the use of correct vocabulary. It was noted that the six linguistic versions would be treated individually as by definition they had encountered problems that were specific to each language. The Secretary requested delegations from each linguistic group to prepare any amendments by the close of the day. This work would be followed by agenda item 6, related to the accreditation of NGOs to act in an advisory capacity to the Committee (working document 6). This was followed by agenda item 7 on the use of the resources of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund with three documents: i) one working document 7; ii) the financial statement for the period 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2013 (information document 7.1); and iii) the list of donors having provided voluntary supplementary contributions to the Fund (information document 7.2 Rev.). Agenda item 8 concerned revision of the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly with a proposed amendment to Rule 2 to include associate members to UNESCO as observers which had been overlooked in the first version, and to Rule 14 concerning the timing of the presentation of candidatures to the Committee. Finally, on the last day of the session the Assembly would examine the remaining four important agenda items: i) agenda item 9 – the distribution of seats in the Committee per electoral group (document 9.Rev); ii) agenda item 10 – the election of the members of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (working document 10 and an information document Rev.4); iii) agenda item 11 covered other business; and iv) agenda item 12 referred to the meeting’s closure. The Secretary took the opportunity to inform the Assembly that the NGOs would meet every morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and during lunchtime from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for her excellent presentation, remarking on the very useful and interesting agenda. With no requests from the floor, the Chairperson declared Resolution 5.GA 3 adopted. He also took the opportunity to explain how the debates would be conducted, noting that the Convention had 161 States Parties with three more States Parties – Bahrain, Bahamas and Myanmar soon to submit their instruments of ratification to UNESCO’s Director-General. It was noted that 102 States Parties had registered to attend the present session, and with the significant number of States possibly wishing to comment on particular items, the floor would be given to States in the order in which they raised their nameplates, with priority given to those who had not previously spoken. The Chairperson also had the option to introduce time limits if deemed necessary. Invited observers, States non-parties to the Convention, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs were able to request the floor during general discussion time permitting, however, they would be unable to speak on specific resolutions. Delegations were free to speak in one of the six available languages, but the large screen (used for the adoption of the resolutions) would only project texts in English and French. The Secretariat would publish the resolutions in the six languages. The Chairperson reminded the Assembly that under Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure any significant change proposed was advised to be provided to the Secretariat in writing. It was noted that all the debates were able to be followed live online.
ITEM 4.1 OF THE AGENDA:
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON ITS ACTIVITIES BETWEEN JUNE 2012 AND JUNE 2014
In the absence of the Chairperson of the eighth session of the Committee Mr Abulfaz Garayev and the Chairperson of the next Committee Mr José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, the Chairperson invited the Secretary to introduce item 4.
The Secretary presented the important work accomplished by the Committee since the last time the General Assembly met, which would be accompanied by a presentation, as well as the corresponding reports, as previously mentioned. The Secretary wished to point out that the report of the Committee to the General Assembly, the report on the current status of elements inscribed on the Representative List (the periodic reports) and the Secretariat’s report on its activities were all interrelated and relevant including the financial report of the Fund for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (INF.7.1). The Secretary recalled that the functions of the Committee were set out in the Convention in Article 7, which comprised inter-alia the promotion of the Convention, guidance on Best Safeguarding Practices, the preparation of Operational Directives, the examination of the periodic reports from States Parties, inscriptions on the Lists, and granting of international assistance. As mentioned in document 4.1, the ratification of the Convention was proceeding at a rapid pace demonstrating sustained interest of States in the Convention. Since the last General Assembly in June 2012, 17 States ratified the Convention, though only a month ago the number was 14, with Bahrain, Myanmar and the Bahamas set to become States Parties in the coming weeks. It was recalled that the Committee’s report would be submitted to the next General Conference of UNESCO. Concerning inscriptions on the Lists of the Conventions, the selection of Best Safeguarding Practices and the granting of international assistance, 60 elements had been inscribed of which eight were on the Urgent Safeguarding List. In the same period, the Committee had selected three Best Safeguarding Practices and approved 15 requests for international assistance for a total amount of US$1.3 million during the same two years.
During its eighth session, the Committee also examined the evaluation of the Culture Sector’s standard setting work, as well as the audit of the working methods of all six cultural conventions carried out by UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Service (IOS). Consequently, it took a number of important decisions that would set the course of the Convention for the coming years. In this regard, the Secretary explained that the decisions taken by the Committee on the evaluation (Decision 8.COM 5.c.1) and the audit (Decision 8.COM 5.c.2) provided different recommendations that addressed different actors; on occasion States Parties, the Secretariat and NGOs, and sometimes all of them together. Many of the decisions taken by the Committee, particularly those related to the Operational Directives, would be brought to the Assembly’s attention later in the agenda. The Committee called upon States Parties, the General Assembly and other stakeholders to promote the Urgent Safeguarding List by repositioning it as an expression of States Parties in their commitment to safeguard intangible cultural heritage and implement the Convention. Notwithstanding the eight elements inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List, the evaluation found that more prominence should be given to heritage in need of urgent safeguarding, and the Committee’s wish that every effort be made to promote the list. The second appeal from the Committee sought to promote international assistance as a tool for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, as well as the implementation of the Convention albeit to better promote the financial provisions of the assistance. The Committee also called for the respect, promotion and better use of the Representative List, which was occasionally used in place of the Urgent Safeguarding List, as well as the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices that was included in the overall ceiling of nominations each year. The Committee thus called for developing alternate ways of sharing safeguarding experiences, such as dedicated websites, e-newsletters, online forums, and so on, which would complement the current mechanisms in place with additional ways to more broadly share best safeguarding practices. Finally, the Committee wished to strengthen informal sharing of innovative examples of working, requesting that Member States continue to share their experiences in working with the Convention and to help others.
The Secretary further explained that the Committee had also decided to ensure that the inscription of elements to all the Lists closely reflected the criteria and procedures in the Convention’s Operational Directives. Both the evaluation and the Committee gave great attention to sustainable development, calling for enhanced cooperation with sustainable development experts when supporting States Parties to integrate intangible cultural heritage in legislation and policies both within the culture area and other fields related to development and work related to intangible cultural heritage, and sustainable development. Civil society was also an important focus of the Committee. The Committee encouraged States Parties to promote the involvement of NGOs and communities in policy development, legislation and sustainable development. With regard to its own working methods, the Committee decided to encourage greater participation by NGOs in its meetings and include the outcomes of the NGO forums in the Committee's agenda so that findings by the NGOs become part of the agenda and not simply an intervention on an ad hoc basis. The Committee also encouraged a debate on the role of the private sector and of public-private partnerships in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Still, in response to the evaluation, which contained many recommendations, the Committee requested the Secretariat to revise documents and forms to include gender-specific guidance and questions in the forms (the evaluation found that there were no specific provisions in the forms or documents in this regard). The Committee also requested the Secretariat to support States Parties with the development of legislation and policies, and to design appropriate capacity-building formats to achieve this. The Secretary would report later on the capacity-building strategy, but it was true that this aspect of work could be strengthened. The Committee also requested the Secretariat to adapt the content and format of the capacity-building strategy to ensure that it responded to major implementation challenges at the national level. In addition, the Secretariat was advised to establish a follow-up mechanism for capacity-building activities with the full involvement of UNESCO field offices and in cooperation with UNESCO National Commissions. Although the evaluation praised the Secretariat’s work on its capacity-building strategy, it was also true that a strong assessment framework was not in place to assess the impact of the strategy on a systematic basis. The Committee also invited the Secretariat to promote international assistance as a capacitybuilding mechanism, not only as a way to support the State for safeguarding activities but also for the State to learn how to match financial needs with safeguarding plans. The Committee also asked the Secretariat to strengthen UNESCO's long-standing cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) over traditional knowledge and culture. The Secretariat acknowledged that although some work was carried out with the WIPO, a common joint thinking on certain aspects around intangible heritage had not been organized in the past few years.
The Secretary further explained that the Committee also invited the intergovernmental committees of the 1972 and 2005 conventions to ‘create opportunities for joint thinking, exchanges of experiences, cooperation and synergies between UNESCO's culture Conventions of 1972 and 2003 and 2005 and establish appropriate mechanisms for this and requested the secretariat to facilitate such cooperation’. Furthermore, the Committee recommended to the General Assembly several amendments to the Operational Directives concerning the process of evaluation of nominations, requests and proposals, and the accreditation criteria for NGOs.
Regarding the audit, reflected in the Committee’s Decision 8.COM 5.c.2 the Committee acknowledged the necessity to prioritize the workload of the Secretariat of the 2003 Convention. It welcomed the suggestion to reduce the duration and agenda of the General Assembly and the Committee sessions. The duration of the fifth session of the General Assembly had for the first time been reduced from five to four days. It requested that the Secretariat, in close consultation with Member States, study the pros and cons of synchronizing the meetings of the States Parties of the different conventions which could introduce savings from travel expenses, for example. However, many States had asked that the different meetings be staggered to enable delegates to rest and prepare for the following sessions. The Committee also welcomed the establishment by the Culture Sector in 2014 of a services team that would provide logistics and communications services for all the conventions, thus pooling available resources. Following the evaluation by the IOS, the Committee recommended that the General Assembly approve new amendments to the Operational Directives on procedures for inscription on an enlarged or reduced basis of an element already inscribed. In addition, the Committee proposed to include the definition of ‘emergency’ for international assistance requests, as well as a slight revision of criterion U.3 for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List. The Secretary thus concluded the summary of the Committee's work, and suggested that the delegations refer to the reports for a more detailed examination.
The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for the excellent overview of the Committee’s decisions and activities, and which also showed the extent of the Secretariat’s support to the Committee. He then turned to Resolution 5.GA 4.1 on a point-by-point basis.
Mr Ranjit Biswas, the Secretary from the Ministry of Culture of Bangladesh congratulated the Chairperson on his election and expressed the delegation’s satisfaction that 14 States had ratified the Convention in the past two years. However, he felt that greater emphasis needed to be given to capacity-building to boost its budgetary allocation.
The delegation of Indonesia congratulated the Chairperson on his appointment, recalling fondly the Committee meeting hosted in the United Arab Emirates. The delegation suggested that before approving the draft resolution reference be made to the annex mentioned in the main document, as per the normal procedure.
The Secretary clarified that the annex was in fact the six-page report by the Committee to the Assembly, and that by adopting the report it was essentially adopting the annex.
With no further comments, the Chairperson declared Resolution 5.GA 4.1 adopted.
ITEM 4.2 OF THE AGENDA:
REPORT OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE ON THE 2012 AND 2013 REPORTS OF STATES PARTIES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION AND ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF ALL ELEMENTS INSCRIBED ON THE REPRESENTATIVE LIST
The Chairperson proceeded to the next item and the report of the Committee on the 20122013 reports of States Parties on the implementation of the Convention and on the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List. The Chairperson invited the Secretariat to present the report.
The Secretariat recalled that in accordance with Article 29 of the Convention, States Parties were required to periodically submit reports to the Committee, which were summarized by the Committee in a report submitted to the General Assembly, as foreseen in Article 7 and Article 30. Out of the 63 States Parties expected to submit reports for the 2012 and 2013 cycle, 26 had submitted complete reports that were examined by the Committee in either its seventh or eighth session. These 26 reports covered 78 elements inscribed on the Representative List and 8 on the Urgent Safeguarding List, as well as
3 Best Safeguarding Practices. It was noted that the Committee’s reports were available separately as documents 7.COM 6 (for 2012) and document 8.COM 6a (for 2013), while the periodic reports were able to be consulted online on the dedicated web pages for 2012 and 2013. Almost half of the 68 States Parties needed to have submitted their periodic reports, but only 20 per cent (or 31 States Parties) had managed to do so, while 16 States had neither submitted their reports nor responded to reminders sent by the Secretariat. The Committee expressed in its decisions its concerns, with the Secretariat trying to figure out how best to assist States Parties in completing the reports. Based on experience garnered from reports submitted by States Parties in previous cycles, the Secretariat drew up an aide-memoire which offered additional guidance to States in preparing their reports for future cycles, outlining the most frequent challenges encountered by States in the reporting exercise. Some of the interesting points raised and discussed by the Committee in these two years included firstly, the growing importance attributed by States to the role of intangible cultural heritage in fostering sustainable development and its integration into national development planning and strategy demonstrating that States Parties clearly perceived intangible heritage as a driver of development. Many States also noted that intangible heritage had been integrated into rural development strategies but also into urban development strategies. Secondly, the cross-cutting character of intangible cultural heritage recognized in the reports required cross-sectoral cooperation within government, and collaboration between the different stakeholders. As previously mentioned by the Secretary, it was not simply a matter of working with primary counterparts at the ministries of culture but also working with ministries of agriculture, health, and other social and economic development ministries to ensure that intangible heritage was fully reflected in every aspect of legislation and policy. The periodic reports brought to attention the role of NGOs and point that where NGOs were active, they would be considered as a repository of knowledge and resources for training, acting as a bridge between communities and the authorities. The contribution of NGOs, as well as the private sector could, therefore, be better reflected. The Committee thus requested that States make increasing efforts to reflect the contributions and perspectives of NGOs in the actual process of preparing their periodic reports. The IOS evaluation also mentioned the need for greater attention to the gender aspects of intangible cultural heritage, its safeguarding, and contributions of youth to the practice and transmission of intangible cultural heritage. Gender, youth and community participation would become particularly important when addressing elements inscribed on the Representative List.
The Secretariat further reported that States commonly viewed handicrafts and tourism as resources for local economic development. Many of them also raised the issue of potentially maximizing the interactions between the 2003 Convention and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. It was noted among the States that there were a number of initiatives underway concerning intellectual property protection and other forms of legal protection for intangible cultural heritage in order to provide advantageous treatment, i.e. tax exemptions or certificates of origin or other legal or economic schemes that could be beneficial. However, in some cases these measures had a negative impact on intangible cultural heritage and its bearers. Finally, the Committee brought attention to the importance of developing a wide diversity of formal and non-formal educational measures and training programmes. Although some were already reflected in the reports, the Committee sought richer, more useful information on integrating intangible cultural heritage aspects into education. In terms of the periodic reporting process, the Committee discussed means of improving the process, partly in response to its own experience and partly in response to observations of the IOS. Consequently, the Committee decided first to revise the periodic reporting forms to include specific questions on policy and legislation (in addition to gender), and to encourage States to focus on results, outcomes and impacts rather than simply listing activities. The Committee also encouraged States Parties to complement the data gathered on implementation of the Convention in their periodic reports by including information provided by relevant NGOs. This was already mentioned in the Operational Directives, but the Committee once again highlighted the importance of involving NGOs in the reporting process. The Secretariat concluded by adding that upon the requests of the Committee, the Secretariat would propose some draft Operational Directives on the procedure, and to improve the actual performance of the periodic reporting that would be examined by the Committee at its ninth session in Paris at the end of November 2014. The draft resolution presented, therefore, requested the Assembly to take note of the Committee's decisions and to convey its report to the General Conference.
The Chairperson remarked that the report presented useful information on the status of the elements inscribed on the Representative List, as well as the method of implementation of the Convention.
The delegation of Switzerland began by congratulating the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for its clear and succinct presentation of the reports and working documents, and for the quality of its work, particularly in light of the current budgetary constraints. Moreover, the excellence of the Secretariat’s work was underscored in the IOS evaluation. Nevertheless, it was essential to prioritize the Secretariat’s work and international assistance and preparatory assistance were particularly important, to ensure that work was focused on the main purpose of the Convention, i.e. the safeguarding of cultural expressions precious to communities and threatened by processes of globalization and cultural homogenization. It was thus important to bear in mind that the proposals provided by the audit on the working methods of cultural conventions would not bring about an increase in staff, but would streamline processes for greater cost efficiency. The delegation recognized that the common platform of services for the six culture conventions could strategically redirect existing resources, and it awaited its implementation in mid-2014 with interest. At the same time, it supported a differentiated approach on certain issues, such as the fundraising strategy, as each convention had its own specificities in the eyes of potential donors. With regard to the periodic reports on implementation of the Convention by States Parties, the delegation was of the opinion that the reports were an important tool for sharing experiences and knowledge, and had the potential for analysing challenges and achieving results. It understood that the preparation of periodic reports presented a challenge to, and a significant commitment by, the State Party – an exercise that Switzerland was currently undertaking. The periodic reporting was, therefore, an opportunity, albeit an obligation, because it helped assess the work carried out to effectively implement the Convention at all levels and by all stakeholders. The report also presented an opportunity to understand how intangible cultural heritage and the purpose of the Convention were perceived at national and local levels. Finally, the reports demonstrated that the expressions and practices of intangible cultural heritage were present and alive, and far from being a reason for withdrawal or exclusion.
The Chairperson thanked Switzerland for its remarks on how the periodic reports could be used in implementation of the Convention within different perspectives, while revealing the extent of cooperation with other conventions. The initiative was highly anticipated and it was, therefore, important that it took place that year. The Chairperson remarked that he had been working on all three conventions but had started with the 2003 Convention, adding that the Assembly could use this mechanism of working with all other conventions since they were all working in the interest of human cultural heritage albeit with different approaches and principles.
The delegation of Republic of Korea congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and spoke of its appreciation of the Secretariat's efforts and excellent report on this item. It supported the draft resolutions and wished to emphasize the importance of the periodic reports on implementation of the Convention as it played a key role in preserving intangible cultural heritage by facilitating shared experiences and the exchange of safeguarding measures and strategies among States and communities. In this regard, the timely submission of reports was important not only for the States submitting the reports but also for other countries that would benefit from them. Nevertheless, if the late submission of some reports was owed to the lack of capacity or infrastructure, then there was a need to consider ways to offer support, perhaps with the development of a specific manual. The Secretariat could also support these activities as part of its capacity-building programme. The delegation planned to expand its support in this regard through Funds-in-Trust projects.
The Chairperson thanked the Republic of Korea for its help in making progress in implementation of the Convention.
The delegation of Mauritania began by congratulating the Chairperson on his election, as well as the Vice-Chairpersons and the Rapporteur, and the Secretariat and welcomed all Members of the Assembly. Mauritania very quickly understood the importance of the Convention as a contributor towards sustainable development. In this regard, it thanked the generous support of the Norwegian government, which had enabled the training of human resources that were crucial to implementation of the Convention in Mauritania. It assured the Assembly that its periodic report would soon be submitted, adding that the protection of cultural values was important for human development. It hoped to make concrete contributions to that effect, adding that its presence in the Committee (if elected) would allow it to provide its expert contribution to implementation of the Convention, which was important for the stability of the continent and inter-community understanding.
With no further comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Resolution 5.GA 4.2 adopted.
[Monday 2 June 2014, afternoon session]
ITEM 4.3 OF THE AGENDA:
REPORT OF THE SECRETARIAT ON ITS ACTIVITIES BETWEEN JUNE 2012 AND JUNE 2014
The Chairperson began the session by congratulating the Rapporteur and Vice-Chairpersons from Norway, Czech Republic, Brazil, Malaysia and Congo adding that he would be happy to receive their assistance when it was needed. He also welcomed the new Member States that had recently ratified the Convention, namely Denmark, Bahamas and Bahrain bringing the total number of States Parties to 161 – proof of the Convention’s appeal to Member States, as well as the progress made in recent years.
With regard to the meeting room, the Secretary informed the Assembly that a bigger meeting room had become available though it would take a day to set up the microphones, seating arrangements and so on should the Assembly wish to switch rooms for the duration of the rest of the session of the General Assembly.
The Chairperson noted the general agreement, and moved to the next item and the Secretariat’s report to the General Assembly.
The Secretary explained that the report summarized the two reports presented by the Secretariat to the Committee in 2012 and 2013, as well as a report on the tenth anniversary of the Convention.