30 May to 1 June 2016 summary records of the fifth session of the general assembly unesco headquarters, 2 to 4 June 2014


Part I: Criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List



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Part I: Criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List aimed to resolve a small but important inconsistency in provisions concerning inscriptions on the Urgent Safeguarding List. During its eighth session, the Committee observed that criterion U.3 called upon the submitting State Party to demonstrate ‘…that safeguarding measures are elaborated that may enable the community group or, if applicable, individuals concerned to continue the practice and transmission of the element’, and then paragraph 27 referred to the feasibility and sufficiency of the safeguarding plan. The reference in one place to safeguarding measures and in another to safeguarding plan could possibly give rise to confusion. The proposed amendment to paragraph 1, shown on the screen, would see the deletion of ‘safeguarding measures are’ replaced with ‘a safeguarding plan is elaborated that may enable the community, group or, if applicable, individuals concerned to continue the practice and transmission…’. All of the other sub-paragraphs of paragraph 1 and all of the other criteria would remain unchanged. This small revision would remove the contradiction with respect to the reference in paragraph 27 while at the same time helping to distinguish the safeguarding plan expected for the Urgent Safeguarding List from the set of safeguarding measures expected for the Representative List.

  • The Chairperson remarked that the simple clarification requested by the Committee would refer consistently to the safeguarding plan in both criterion U.3 and paragraph 27. This amendment simply confirmed what had already been in practice since the first cycle of nominations. With no voiced objections or comments the Chairperson pronounced Part I of the amendments adopted. The Chairperson noted that Part II concerned several changes related to the possibility for one or more State Parties to propose inscriptions on an extended or reduced basis of an element already inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List or the Representative List.

  • The Secretary explained that there had been extensive work on Part II: Inscription of an element on an extended or reduced basis, that was already inscribed, with the idea of being able to reduce the element as well as extend it, which had not been foreseen in the Directive. The current paragraph 14 of the Operational Directives adopted in 2010 provided for an extension of a multinational file through the addition of one or more submitting States so as to broaden the nomination. The proposed change would also broaden an inscription but would only apply to a single State within an inscribed element. Thus, an element that comprised a single community could in fact be extended to several communities, all of whom shared the same element, but still on a national basis. The amendment could also reduce the scope of an existing element from several States to less States (down to only one State) or it could apply to an element that was shared among several communities at the national level, which could be reduced because a community no longer considered the element as part of its intangible cultural heritage. The document provided under this item referred to the history of these changes. The Secretary further explained that the Subsidiary Body had suggested the current rewording in 2011. It was welcomed by the previous General Assembly in June 2012 and the Committee was asked to prepare specific amendments following the suggestion of the Subsidiary Body. In October 2012, an openended working group of the Committee was held to specifically reflect on this issue, which studied the right scale or scope of an element and endorsed the principle (of the Operational Directives addressing both reduction or extension). This was supported, in principle, by the seventh session of the Committee, and the wording by the eighth session of the Committee. It was thus clear that these proposed amendments enjoyed a large and unanimous consensus from several constituencies. When the Committee debated in 2012 and 2013, it anticipated the need to reduce as well as extend an element. As explained, certain communities might no longer practice an element, or they might wish to diminish the unintended consequences of inscription, such as greatly increased attendance, possibly conflicting with the practice. To complete the change, the Committee at its eighth session adopted the texts that were put forward in Part II of the Annex. It was noted that there was no change to the title of the Operational Directive. There would be no change to paragraph 13, but it proposed to completely delete paragraph 14 (since the different parts of the paragraph would be separated out so as to deal with the component parts in the proper manner). As a result, the following numbering of paragraphs would be changed, with no change in their text, and a new chapter 1.6 ‘Inscription on an extended or reduced basis’ would be introduced. Paragraph 16 would thus cover the extension, and paragraph 17 would cover reduction, while paragraphs 18 and 19 would borrow from the existing wording in paragraph 14. For clarity, the Secretary read out paragraphs 16 (on extension) and 17 (on reduction). Paragraphs 18 and 19 would then use the same wording taken from paragraph 14, applying it to both an extension and a reduction. Paragraph 18 was the first part of the current paragraph 14, but without the notion of ‘reduced’. The second part of paragraph 14 would then comprise paragraph 19 meaning that an attempt to reduce or extend a nomination would bear no consequences for the original nomination, unless it was successful. So there was no risk to the State Party concerned of not receiving the extension and losing its already inscribed element. There were no changes to paragraphs 20 and 21. The purpose of paragraph 22 was simply to combine the existing paragraphs in order to maintain the numbering of the subsequent paragraphs, but the texts remained unchanged.

  • The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for her presentation and opened the floor for comments.

  • The delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran suggested going through the amendment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis.

  • The Chairperson agreed that this was the intention. However, given the time, he suggested starting first thing in the morning adjourning the session.

    [Tuesday 3 June 2014, morning session]

    ITEM 5.1 OF THE AGENDA (cont.):

    SUBSTANTIVE REVISIONS OF THE OPERATIONAL DIRECTIVES

    1. The Chairperson began by apologizing for the delay, which was due to the delay during the first Bureau meeting. He noted the good progress made so far, and that the Secretary had concluded the last session with the amendment in Part II concerning the inscription of an element on an extended or reduced basis. Proceeding paragraph-by-paragraph, the Chairperson noted that there were no comments or objections to adopting Chapter 1.5 shown, deleting paragraph 14 and renumbering the following two paragraphs, which was duly adopted. The Chairperson then moved to the substance of the amendment, paragraph-by-paragraph.

    2. Congratulating the Chairperson on his election, the delegation of Belgium recalled that there had been a long debate at the previous Committee on the Operational Directives in which it was concluded that more time was needed to reflect on the relationship between the Convention and sustainable development from ecological, economic, social and cultural perspectives. It added that this should be kept in mind so as to invite the Committee to continue with the debate. The delegation referred to the change in criterion U.3 on the safeguarding plan, adding that one of the characteristics of a good safeguarding plan was that it achieved a result at a given time so that an element might be considered to no longer be ‘urgent’, which the Committee could reflect upon in the future. With regard to paragraphs 16, 17 and 18 the delegation noted that the expression ‘inscription on an extended or reduced basis’ appeared in paragraphs 16 and 17 but in 18 it referred to ‘an element as extended or reduced’ which caused confusion. It, therefore, proposed to change the word ‘element’ in paragraph 18 by which States Parties should submit new nomination files showing that the extended or reduced inscription of the element satisfied all of the required criteria. The delegation proposed to delete ‘element’ (as ‘nomination’ had been used in the earlier paragraphs) and introduce ‘extended and reduced inscription of the element satisfies all the criteria’, which would use the words ‘extended or reduced’ in a consistent way in connection to the word ‘inscription’.

    3. The Chairperson thanked Belgium, adding that adoption of the amendments on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis would allow the Assembly to clearly look at the proposed changes. The Chairperson, therefore, turned to paragraph 17.

    4. The delegation of China wished to propose an amendment to paragraph 17, which had been submitted in writing to the Secretariat. The Chairperson asked China to explain its proposal to the Assembly.

    5. The delegation of China remarked that paragraph 16 on an extension or reduction at the national and international level had already been adopted, and that it should be reflected at both national and international levels in paragraph 17.

    6. The Chairperson noted that the Assembly agreed with the proposal, which was duly adopted.

    7. The delegation of Belgium returned to the issue of the use of the word ‘element’ proposing to delete ‘nomination’ and adjusting it to read ‘that the extended or reduced inscription of the element satisfies all the required criteria’ with the words ‘inscription of an element’ connected to reduced or extended.

    8. The Secretary suggested that the use of ‘inscription’ was premature because the element was not yet inscribed and was still at the nomination stage, and would only become so following the Committee’s decision.

    9. The delegation of Belgium understood the point made, adding that the change was to avoid the use of ‘nomination’ twice. For the sake of consistency and clarity it suggested replacing the first ‘nomination’ by ‘nomination file’ and the second ‘element’ by ‘nomination’.

    10. The Chairperson understood the concern and with no further comments pronounced paragraphs 18 and 19 adopted. It was noted that for Chapter I.7 only the paragraph numbers were changed, and the four paragraphs were merged into two in order to maintain the sequence of numbers. With no objections paragraphs 20–25 were duly adopted. The Chairperson pronounced Part II adopted, inviting the Secretary to continue with Part III.

    11. The Secretary presented Part III: Evaluation of files, adding that this set of amendments was also the result of recurrent debate within the Committee and the General Assembly, with the amendments proposed representing the unanimous recommendation of the eighth session of the Committee held in Baku. It had indeed been a challenge for the Committee to find the most suitable mechanism to evaluate nominations, which had been discussed from the outset of the Convention’s work. The first set of Operational Directives in 2008 established a framework that was intended to approve inscriptions as soon as possible, even when other parts of the Convention were still very much evolving. After five cycles of inscriptions, the Committee accepted that it had been a process of learning and evolution from which it had drawn lessons. The Secretary recalled that the Committee’s report and the audit from the IOS had called for States Parties to better calibrate workloads and available resources. The Committee, therefore, proposed to consolidate all evaluations into a single body, which would save time and human resources. Moreover, two bodies (currently in place) working in parallel on identical criteria and processes occasionally led to minor issues of different interpretations on similar facts and circumstances, which would be avoided with a single body. The Committee wished to emphasize the experimental basis of its proposal, which could be fine-tuned if difficulties arose in implementation. The new Evaluation Body would be composed of six experts, representatives of States Parties but not members of the Committee, and six representatives of accredited NGOs. Other specific criteria for membership included: i) equitable geographical representation; ii) expertise in the various domains of intangible cultural heritage; iii) each electoral group had to be represented among the 12 members; and iv) the members exercised a four-year term, with three members changed every year to ensure continuity and rotating membership of the body. The Secretary made clear that all members of the Evaluation Body would be appointed by the Committee, acting impartially and in the interests of all States Parties and the Convention. All the appointed members would be nominated by each of the six electoral groups, depending on which seats were to be filled (in the first sitting of this body all electoral groups would nominate). In future elections, only the concerned electoral group would be consulted to provide nominees (among NGOs or experts) for the outgoing seats, with the Committee making the final selection in appointments to the body. Each electoral group might put before the Committee up to three candidates for each seat, but at least one candidate should be proposed. The chairperson of the electoral group would inform the Secretariat of the candidate(s) at least six weeks before the Committee session for publication of candidate(s) names in the working document. In addition, to ensure that experts representing developing countries could be included among those appointed to the body, the Committee also proposed that experts from eligible countries receive financial support from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund (which was not the case for members of the Subsidiary Body who only received travel expenses). As these experts (even governmental experts) would be appointed for consultative purposes, those from developing countries would also receive fees (in the same way as the experts from NGOs) for their work, provided by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. The Secretary concluded by saying that the Committee had unanimously recommended these provisions. On adoption of the Evaluation Body by the Assembly, the next Committee would appoint the first 12 serving members who would then evaluate the 2015 cycle. The Secretariat would then inform all States Parties in early July of the possibility to put forward the names of experts or NGOs within their electoral group, with the chairs expected to send their proposals in time for the Committee’s next session.

    12. The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for the clear explanation on such an important issue, opening the floor for comments.

    13. The delegation of Norway remarked that it had been following the issue since the very beginning and was pleased that the Committee had reached consensus on such a delicate issue. It, therefore, wholeheartedly supported the amendment.

    14. The delegation of Indonesia remarked that it had also followed the prolonged debates on the issue, concurring with the comments by Norway. It felt that the proposed hybrid body represented the will of the States Parties and particularly the Committee, and fully supported the draft amendments to the Operational Directives in this regard. The delegation also sought clarification regarding membership to the body. If members of the Evaluation Body were appointed for a four-year term and came from States Parties not members of the Committee, what would happen if after two years the State Party (of which the Evaluation Body member was a national) became a Committee member? Would the serving member of that State have to retire from the Evaluation Body and be replaced?

    15. The Chairperson invited the Secretariat to respond.

    16. The Secretary replied that the question had in fact two different answers. Firstly, of the
      12 members, not all of the six experts would have a four-year mandate from scratch because of the rotational system. The Committee, when it composed the 12 members for the first time, would probably have to draw lots to select those members that would have a one-year mandate, those with a two-year mandate, and so on. Otherwise, the rotation could not begin. Secondly, after the initial setting-up phase, the members – once elected – would commence a four-year mandate, which logically would provide the body with continuity in its work (a new member coming on board mid-term would disrupt the proceedings). Thus, a State intending to run for election in the next General Assembly should abstain from proposing an expert to sit in the body pending the result of the election. Therefore, only States committed to abstaining from sitting in the Committee in the next four years should propose experts to the Evaluation Body.

    17. The delegation of Benin considered the explanation to be extremely important, as it was the first time that it had heard about the criteria for selecting members to the Evaluation Body. In the future, States should be sufficiently informed, as it was often difficult to explain to decision makers who tended to be hostile when they didn’t understand how things were managed within the Convention. The delegation added that this was why even official letters should be sent because emails were meaningless to them, considering them to be addressed only to the specialists and not the State. Thus, if the form of rotation within the Evaluation Committee was not known, it would have the effect of marginalizing States that had difficulties explaining the merits of participation in such meetings to State policymakers. The delegation hoped that in the future the State be informed by UNESCO of any changes in the formulation or criteria for participation in such a committee.

    18. The delegation of Cyprus supported the Committee's decision on paragraph 27 on the Evaluation Body, and was happy to note the question by Indonesia. However, with regard to paragraph 28, ‘the Secretariat shall inform the States Parties within each Electoral Group’, it felt that the correct procedure should be first informing the States Parties, that in turn would inform the chairperson of the electoral group.

    19. The delegation of the Republic of Korea supported the remarks by the two previous delegations and agreed on the need to establish a single Evaluation Body to enhance efficiency. In addition, there should be greater discussion in regard to the composition and management of the body, and the Secretariat should, therefore, pay strict attention to ensure a fair and clear selection procedure for new members of the Evaluation Body.

    20. The delegation of Austria welcomed the creation of a single Evaluation Body for the examination of all files, which would ensure a higher degree of consistency between the Lists. It concurred with the statements by Norway, Indonesia and others, and after intense discussion on the topic for several years, considered the new structure as having enjoyed a very good consensus, accommodating the expertise of NGOs and national experts in a proper manner. In addition, there would no longer be a restriction in the discussion among Committee members, with each file finally being decided upon equally by all 24 Committee members. It was confident that the new structure would continue to enhance the spirit of the Convention.

    21. The delegation of Brazil subscribed to the comments by Norway that these amendments represented a delicate balance, which was achieved with consensus, and thus favoured not making any modifications to the text, only if it was absolutely necessary to make a clarification or adapt an expression to avoid any misunderstanding. With regard to the question by Indonesia, it suggested adding two footnotes to paragraphs 27 and 28. That for paragraph 27 would explain it would be expected the State presenting the expert would not run for election during its term in the Evaluation Body and for paragraph 28 transitional measures would be clarified for the rotation of experts during the first four years. In any case, any additional text should not change the substance of what was agreed but only make a clarification.

    22. The delegation of Georgia congratulated the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for its very impressive report. It supported the proposal of a single Evaluation Body as this would help in the evaluation of nomination files and ensure effective work of the Committee. However, it felt that the issues of equitable geographic representation should be further elaborated, as well as the question on whether the States Parties, members of the Evaluation Body and the Committee, would be expected to also abstain from submitting nominations during their term.

    23. The delegation of Egypt was pleased to see that both the Chairperson and the Secretariat were very precise in the explanations provided. However, it wished to know about the criteria adopted for selecting the experts of the new Evaluation Body, and how to ensure that the experts selected would be truly competent. The delegation added that the files were very diverse and covered a broad range of cultural specificities and subjects that required highly specialized experts.

    24. The delegation of Jordan supported the proposal by the Committee to establish a new body for the purposes of evaluation as this would guarantee objectivity. However, it also wondered about the selection criteria of the experts. Moreover, certain electoral groups were not sufficiently represented in terms of accredited NGOs under the Convention and would require assistance to put forward nominations for the second group of experts representing NGOs.

    25. The delegation of France remarked that it had attentively followed the debates in Baku, and that the text marked an important and positive development in the Convention’s history.

    26. The delegation of Colombia was happy to note the proposal by the Committee, but it also shared Egypt’s concern regarding the selection criteria. It suggested that the Committee draw up a series of clearly defined criteria that could be sent to States Parties stipulating that both the experts and the NGOs would have to have in-depth knowledge of the Convention and its Operational Directives, but also of implementation in the field. It was the implementation at field level that provided States Parties with considerable knowledge, developing their understanding of the local management of intangible cultural heritage, which was important for bearers and communities. The experts, therefore, needed field expertise in addition to academic knowledge.

    27. As a member of the Committee, the delegation of Namibia also participated in the debates in Baku that led to the consensus and, therefore, supported the establishment of a single Evaluation Body. It understood that the six national experts would come from States nonmembers of the Committee but wondered whether this criterion also applied to the NGOs.

    28. The delegation of Hungary expressed its strong belief in advantages of the new procedure, adding that it sought clarity on how the decision on the length of the first membership would be taken with regard to rotation.

    29. The delegation of Netherlands strongly supported the proposal by the Committee for a single independent Evaluation Body. It also felt that it was very important that the experts were aware of the discussions taking place during the NGO forum.

    30. The delegation of Peru congratulated the Chairperson on his election and excellent chairmanship. It also thanked the Secretariat for its enormous work and clarity of its explanations. It welcomed the amendment but also recognized the exemplary work carried out by the subsidiary and consultative bodies in previous cycles. In this respect, many of the State experts who participated in the bodies had a great deal of experience in evaluating files as a result; the bodies providing an excellent capacity-building structure for States. Thus, the delegation suggested that these States having participated in the two bodies could recommend experts. It supported Colombia’s proposal that criteria to select experts be directly related to work conducted with the communities. It wished to see experts being recommended on the basis of consensus among the States and the Secretariat.

    31. The delegation of Estonia supported the decision and consensus reached in Baku. It spoke of Estonia’s long-term experience in working with the bodies and the Committee, and that the proposal was in line with its experience on the type of consensus required to serve the spirit of the Convention. It also supported the proposal by Netherlands that the expertise from NGOs should come about in close consultation with the NGO Forum, which had extended an important service to the Convention.

    32. The delegation of Côte d’Ivoire endorsed all remarks with regard to the Evaluation Body, however, wondered if membership rotation would be better every two and four years instead of every year, to allow for consistency and members to gain experience.

    33. The delegation of Turkey had followed the Committee discussions and expert meetings, and consulted the proposed amendment formulated in Baku not seeing any impediment to its application, though there were two minor grammatical and technical errors. It also congratulated the two consultative bodies for their historic work.

    34. The Chairperson agreed with Turkey and was equally appreciative of the excellent work undertaken by the consultative bodies, especially at the beginning of implementation of the Convention. The amendment was not in any way disapproving of the standard of their work but was simply exercising a need to improve the mechanism.

    35. The delegation of Greece congratulated the Chairperson on his election and the Secretariat for its customary excellent work in preparing the background documents. It was well aware of the long process that led to the amendment, which was achieved through consensus among electoral groups and all its members, boding well for the body’s effective work in the spirit of the Convention. Regarding the crucial remarks made by the Secretary on the initial changes for the first Evaluation Body, which it assumed could not be covered in the Operational Directives, the delegation proposed that the text should be subject to a decision in the present session so that the Assembly fully understood all clarifications that were absolutely crucial for the good working of the body.

    36. The delegation of Spain repeated its wish to maintain the former system, adding that the mixed Evaluation Body was envisaged as a provisional body. A participant in the Subsidiary Body for two years, the delegation acknowledged the excellent work carried out by previous advisory bodies whose work had been recognized by the Committee in its meetings. It supported the comments made by Colombia endorsed by Peru that members of the Evaluation Body would function in a provisional manner and require in-depth knowledge of the Convention and the Operational Directives, not just academic knowledge, unlike previously.

    37. The delegation of Guatemala congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and the Secretariat for its excellent work. Regarding financial problems currently facing UNESCO, the delegation wished to know about specific costs involved in setting-up and managing meetings and experts of the Evaluation Body.

    38. The delegation of Tunisia congratulated the previous bodies for their excellent work and whose accumulated experience the Assembly could draw upon. The consensus reached was also very important and should be celebrated. It was also useful to mention that States Parties appointing an expert should not stand for election in the Committee.

    39. The delegation of Morocco joined the delegations in welcoming the important consensus reached in Baku, which would ensure better implementation of the Convention in the coming years. It was equally important to recall the valuable work carried out by the advisory bodies, which – as Spain recalled – served the subsidiary bodies as impartially as possible, even though they were also part of the Committee. That said, the solution in its opinion would lead to better implementation of the Convention. Nevertheless, there were matters that still needed to be discussed, as highlighted by a number of delegations. For example, would this be a homogeneous body? The delegation returned to the issue raised by Namibia on the status of experts and NGOs; one half of the experts – the NGOs – were accredited, but what about the experts? Would they also be accredited? Does the fact that the Committee proposing and appointing experts through electoral groups be considered a form of accreditation?

    40. The delegation of Italy was in favour of the proposal and welcomed the consensus. It spoke of the excellent experience and quality of the consultative bodies that led the Committee to reflect on improving the evaluation work and eventually to reach consensus, which it supported. It welcomed the mention of ‘qualified experts’ as highlighted by Morocco. The delegation would, therefore, not oppose the mechanism and was certain of the quality of the experts that would be called upon, in the same way as the experts who had previously worked in the subsidiary bodies had been recognized.

    41. The delegation of Ecuador congratulated the Chairperson on his election, adding that it welcomed the proposal to have a single Evaluation Body to evaluate all the nomination files from 2015. It also stressed the importance of fair geographical representation of the body’s members, both in terms of the governmental and non-governmental representatives. The delegation wished to retain the Assembly’s right to conduct a review of the Evaluation Body and its functions after a certain period of time.

    42. The delegation of Mauritania felt that the proposal from Morocco supported by Italy was fundamental, as well as the proposal from Ecuador, as both ideas converged ensured the competency of experts in evaluating files, which could only be assured with accreditation; a principle that it always defended. It also sought clarity with regard to the principle of rotation even within geographical groups, as requested by Ecuador.

    43. The delegation of Senegal was in favour of the Evaluation Body because it would improve the quality of the evaluation of files. Returning to the question posed earlier by Morocco and Namibia, it sought clarity on the selection process of NGOs serving on the Evaluation Body. What mechanism was in place to ensure that the NGOs would be selected on an equitable geographical basis? Which criteria would be applied to select the NGOs? The delegation added that these important details would help to better understand the work of the new body. With regard to the experts representing the electoral groups, the delegation wished to know whether the Chairperson of the group was limited to three candidates.

    44. The Chairperson thanked the delegations for their very useful contributions and noted that there was an overwhelming agreement on the proposal, however, there were also some important questions and the answers should help to find the mechanism of implementation. He invited the Secretary to respond.

    45. The Secretary remarked that the questions should really be addressed to the Committee, as it was the Committee that proposed this mechanism. Nevertheless, she would try to respond, though the Assembly might wish to include additional text for clarification in the adopted resolution to the Directive – as suggested by Greece. With regard to the question raised by the Republic of Korea, the Secretary reiterated that the Secretariat was not in any way involved in the selection process of experts. It was only responsible for sending letters to States Parties at the beginning of July informing them of the need to propose experts – should they wish – to serve in the new body. The States Parties would, therefore, be tasked to ensure that the chosen experts had both the availability and requisite expertise – to answer the question by Colombia and Peru. The proposals would not be received by the Secretariat but instead would be sent to the chairpersons of each electoral group concerned. The electoral groups would then conduct consultations to select the best candidates (three experts and three NGOs) among the potentially large number of proposals to represent their electoral group. The Secretary explained that a maximum of three candidates among the experts and three NGOs (and at least one candidate of each) could be put forward. The maximum number of three candidates was decided in order to simplify the selection by the Committee in its final decision. The Secretary also allayed concerns regarding equitable geographical representation, as each electoral group would have one expert and one NGO representing their group, so no single group would be more represented than another. It was true, however, that some electoral groups had more accredited NGOs than others, but the Assembly would likely accredit another 22 NGOs in the current session with many coming from Group V(b). This ensured that the number of accredited NGOs available from each group would be sufficient to rotate every four years.

    46. Regarding the status of an NGO whose headquarters was in the country of a Committee member, the Secretary clarified that an NGO by definition neither represented its country nor its host country. Thus, the rule that an expert should not come from the same country as a member of the Committee did not apply to NGOs. With regard to the system of rotation (Brazil suggested a footnote and Hungary sought clarification), the Secretary explained that this had already occurred with the Consultative Body in its first selection of 12 members. In this case, the rotation was initiated by deciding for the first time which of the 12 members would serve a one-year term, a two-year term, and so on. The choice was made on the basis of consensus through consultations. However, it could also be decided by drawing lots. The Secretary recommended that the Assembly leave it to the Committee to decide on how to proceed, adding that it was probably unnecessary to mention the process in the base texts, as it would be conducted only once, or should the body expire.

    47. Regarding the question by Georgia, the Secretary replied that the issue was not treated in the proposal. Concerning advisory bodies, the Secretary explained appointing a member of an NGO whose headquarters was in the same country as a Committee member was acceptable but that it was customary for a member, whether they were a government expert or representing an NGO, to refrain from evaluating nominations from their country. For example, if a nomination was under evaluation, of which a member of the Subsidiary Body was a national, the member would leave the room and not take part in any of the debates or assessment of the nomination. Yet as the Evaluation Body could not anticipate in advance which of the four types of nominations would be submitted, placing restrictions on experts was difficult to apply.

    48. With regard to paragraph 27 on the criteria of competence governing the appointment of experts, the Secretary reiterated that the experts must have expertise in one of the various domains of intangible cultural heritage. They would be tasked with the evaluation of all nomination files, not just those of which they were specialists, and would be expected to formulate opinions and operate in the other domains. Experience had shown that there had never been a problem of an expert failing to understand the presentation of a file. On the contrary, experts from the different geographical regions were able to enlighten the group about cultural sensitivities particular to his or her region, as well as the local and regional context of a nominated element. The one competence that was non-negotiable, which would be mentioned in the letters, was that nominated experts must be proficient in either French or English, as interpretation was only available in these working languages. Regarding the proposal that NGOs be selected in consultation with the NGO Forum, it would depend on the electoral group responsible to ensure that consultation took place – the Secretariat would not intervene in the selection process. The letters by the Secretariat would be sent to all States Parties in early July, and the Secretariat would expect to receive proposals from each electoral group in mid-October, which would allow the electoral groups to reflect on the candidates and meet in early October to agree on the CVs. In addition, the proposal by Greece could help clarify – in the letter concerning the candidates – that States intending to stand for election to the Committee refrain from proposing their experts.

    49. Finally, the Secretary explained that the costs of the advisory bodies were twofold and included the fixed costs of the consultative body in general (logistics, interpretation, translation, meeting room clerks and so on), which was partly covered by UNESCO Regular Programme, and the travel and subsistence costs for Subsidiary Body participants from developing countries, plus the travel costs of all 12 participants of the Consultative Body, as well as their fees for the evaluation of nominations. Therefore, in the calculation of the Evaluation Body, a five-day meeting halved the fixed costs compared to two five-day meetings of the Consultative Body and the Subsidiary Body. There would only be
      12 members in the Evaluation Body to fund instead of 18 for both consultative bodies, though this would include consulting fees for a number of participants or at least from the State experts requiring assistance from developing countries. The final cost savings compared to the current set-up was calculated at around 11 per cent.

    50. The Chairperson thanked the Secretary for having responded to the questions raised.

    51. The delegation of Albania remarked that as a member of the Committee it took part actively in negotiations for the new Evaluation Body and was happy about the overwhelming consensus. On limiting the number of experts, the delegation felt a limit of three was rather artificial and did not see a problem with having more proposed experts per electoral group since the Committee would actually vote and select the experts. With regard to the NGOs, it fully agreed that the country of headquarters should not be an eliminatory criterion, in contrary to experts that represent their governments. The delegation wondered, however, about the status of international NGOs, and whether experts could be re-elected after serving four years. It also sought clarification on the proposed fees to the experts, as it believed the Fund only covered travel expenses.

    52. With regard to the question on international NGOs, the Secretary explained that by definition they were not linked to an electoral group and that several discussions had taken place to possibly include a seventh group under ‘international’. Unfortunately, the discussions never concluded, so for the time being international NGOs were considered as belonging to the electoral group in which they had their headquarters, though some NGOs were known to rotate their headquarters. The Secretary suggested that the Assembly reflect on this issue for the future. The second question concerned the limit of three experts proposed by the Committee in Article 28 of the draft proposal. The Secretary surmised that it was to facilitate the work of the Committee as in reality the number of candidates proposed to the electoral group was non-restricted, and ultimately it was the electoral group that chose its candidates during the Committee session. Moreover, consultations among the electoral groups could be done in advance so that only three candidates were brought to the attention of the Committee instead of say 100. This would facilitate translations of CVs and the number of documents, which in reality essentially concerned the electoral group in question. With regard to the issue of re-election, the Secretary explained that it was not dealt with in the actual Directives. On the question of fees, the Secretary drew attention to agenda item 7 on the use of the Fund and the proposed amendment that provided the possibility to provide fees to State experts sitting in the Evaluation Body. This came about because a State expert serving in the Subsidiary Body had asked whether government experts were also entitled to fees for their work, as the expert (from a developing country) had a limited budget from the Ministry of Culture and had to appoint colleagues to constitute an evaluation team to help in the heavy workload of evaluating
      50 files. At the time, there were no provisions to financially assist State experts. However, the Committee deemed that it was indeed difficult for some developing States that did not have the financial capacity to form a small team, as the government experts did not work alone. The Committee, therefore, proposed that the Secretariat check with Legal Affairs and the associated financial rules to see whether experts from developing countries, carrying out consultative functions, could receive fees (this would not apply to experts from developed countries). As a result, an amendment was proposed in Item 7 that they should receive fees, which had been calculated at the very modest sum of US$200 per nomination evaluated to be paid from the Fund, which had ample money to pay for all experts concerned by the provision, or about eight or nine experts in the new body.

    53. The Chairperson remarked that if there were any details that had not been included then it could be added – as suggested by Brazil – so the Directives could be clear and help the Committee in its future work.

    54. The delegation of Afghanistan congratulated the Chairperson on his election, and also the Secretary for her detailed explanations that provided more thoughtful perspectives on the issues. The delegation was unfortunately not in Baku to follow the process and was taken aback to hear the use of ‘provisional’ in relation to the proposal, as mentioned by Spain. As a lawyer, this ‘temporary’ action had connotations akin to an experiment of which the duration was not known, which in the delegation’s opinion already weakened the framework because the outcome was uncertain. It would have preferred a more stable and final solution even though it welcomed the very democratic process. However, the delegation expressed concern that the procedure had complicated matters for States Parties that had not yet inscribed an element, and wondered whether the new formula provided these countries with an opportunity to be present among UNESCO’s governing bodies; otherwise it would discourage countries that had no elements inscribed on the Lists. The delegation felt that the period of globalization, which UNESCO had entered, created complications that ultimately discouraged those countries with fewer resources and means.

    55. The Chairperson understood its concern but believed that there was a misunderstanding regarding countries being able to present files if they were members of the Committee. The Chairperson explained that the discussion concerned the new mechanism for the Evaluation Body, adding that the Assembly worked for the interests of every Member State.

    56. The delegation of Romania sought clarification on whether the selection of experts was made by the Committee or by the electoral group, and if the electoral group decided on the funding source for the expert. It also sought to know the support costs for the States Parties in the final evaluation process.

    57. The delegation of Congo also regretted that it was unable to attend the Committee meeting in Baku but it had nevertheless followed all the debates. It sought clarification on the selection procedure of experts as it did not understand why the electoral groups were asked to propose three candidates when ultimately it would retain only one. In which case, why not just nominate one candidate from the outset. The delegation was told that it was the Committee that made the final selection and subsequently withdrew its question.

    58. The delegation of Azerbaijan welcomed and supported the compromise solution reached in Baku, adding that the establishment of the Evaluation Body was indeed cost-effective.

    59. In response to the question by Romania on costs for the State, the Secretary explained that a State Party supporting an expert who was not eligible for support from the Fund would need to consider travel and subsistence costs for the duration of the meeting (about a week) in which the evaluation took place. The second consideration was the time spent working for UNESCO in evaluating the 50 nomination files prior to the meeting, i.e. work that was spent away from other normal duties. It was important to note that some ‘government experts’ were not necessarily civil servants and a government might offer a fee as compensation for the work so the costs incurred would depend on the arrangements proposed by the proposing government. The Secretary suggested that Romania approach past members of the Subsidiary Body for an idea of how much it might potentially cost.

    60. The Chairperson hoped that the Assembly was clearer on the issues, reminding the Assembly that the Committee was responsible for the implementation of the procedure. The Chairperson then moved to the draft resolution paragraph-by-paragraph. Paragraph 27 was the first revision that defined the mechanism and membership of the Evaluation Body. With no objections, paragraph 27 was adopted. Paragraph 28 pertained to the terms of office and the procedures by which each electoral group put forward the name of one or more candidates for the vacant seats available.

    61. The delegation of Cyprus sought to change the paragraph ‘At least three months prior to the opening of the session of the Committee, the Secretariat shall inform the States Parties’ by deleting ‘within each Electoral Group with a vacancy to be filled’. The delegation explained that the Secretariat should inform the States Parties, and it was the States Parties that should then send their proposals to the chairperson of the electoral group, who in turn determined the candidates put forward to the Secretariat.

    62. The Secretary understood the intervention by Cyprus but explained that only States Parties within electoral groups that had vacant seats would receive letters requesting them to consider potential candidates. In the first year, all States Parties would receive the letters (as all electoral seats would be vacant), but only three electoral groups would have vacant seats in the second year (owing to the rotation), so only those States Parties would receive invitations to propose candidates, and so on in year three.

    63. With no further comments or objections, the Chairperson pronounced paragraph 28 adopted. The Chairperson turned to paragraph 30 and the recommendation that the Evaluation Body would submit a report to the Committee. With no objections, paragraph 30 was adopted. Old paragraphs 29 and 30 had become obsolete with the amended paragraph 27 and new paragraph 30, which was duly adopted and deleted. In addition, the order of paragraph numbers was maintained to the extent possible, which was also adopted. Finally, there were some changes in paragraphs 54 and 55 concerning the timetable and procedures, which the Secretary was invited to explain.

    64. The Secretary explained that the changes reflected the amendments that the Assembly had just adopted, and clarified the procedures already in use by the Secretariat. Since the time the Directives were first adopted, the Convention’s work had moved from a ‘low paper’ to a ‘no paper’ approach to working documents. Short updates referred to the description of how information was made available during the evaluation process. Also, in its Decision 7.COM.15 the Committee adopted ‘Guidelines for the treatment of correspondence from the public or other concerned parties with regard to nominations’ that described when and how files and supporting materials were available online on the Convention’s website. The revised paragraph 54 clarified that on 31 March (Year 1) the Secretariat posted files as received in their original language on the Convention’s website. Revised files received by 30 September (Year 1) by States, following the Secretariat’s request for additional information, were posted online and replaced the original files received. Translations into English or French were also posted online as they became available. Paragraph 55 changed the name of the body just adopted.

    65. The Chairperson suggested adopting the changes as a whole.

    66. Regarding the amendment to paragraph 54, the delegation of China remarked that in accordance with paragraph 12 of document 5.1, the Assembly had taken a decision on a proposal by the Committee at its seventh session on the public’s reaction to the treatment of nominations, which specifically referred to the Urgent Safeguarding List and the Representative List. China believed that online posting of nomination files would only concern these two Lists and exclude Best Practices plans or projects, or international assistance requests. It felt that there was a problem of consistency and that it would be useful to make available online the nominations of all four mechanisms.

    67. The Secretary explained that the paragraph cited ‘file’ and not ‘nomination’, as ‘nomination’ referred specifically to the two Lists, while ‘files’ was used to describe all four mechanisms. In addition, the purpose of making the files available online was not only to gauge public reaction but was also to enable States to follow the nomination process, as was decided by the Committee. The paragraph was thus drafted in the spirit of the Committee’s decision to initiate debate, and not necessarily criticism, on issues that might raise concern by interested parties. In this way, the Committee could anticipate any potential problems across all the mechanisms, including Best Practices and international assistance.

    68. With no further comments, the Chairperson pronounced Part III adopted, and thanked the Assembly for enriching the debate and its cooperation in concluding the new mechanism of evaluation. The Chairperson repeated his appreciation of the work carried out by the previous subsidiary and consultative bodies, adding that a new era was dawning in the interests of implementation of the Convention.

    69. The Secretary turned to


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