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

Part IV: Definition of ‘emergency’ for the purposes of international assistance

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Part IV: Definition of ‘emergency’ for the purposes of international assistance, which proposed to integrate a previous decision taken by the Committee into paragraph 50 of the Operational Directives. The Secretary recalled that Article 22 of the Convention and paragraphs 47 and 50 of the Operational Directives explained the possibility for a State to request international assistance on an emergency basis, and to have that request examined on an expeditious basis. In its Decision 5.COM 10.2, the Committee adopted in 2010 a decision to describe the circumstances that constituted such an emergency, justifying expeditious examination based on the definition by UNESCO for emergency requests under the Participation Programme. It was recalled that the Bureau awarded the first emergency assistance in 2013 to support inventory efforts in Mali in the wake of recent conflicts. At that time, the Bureau suggested that the definition of ‘emergency’ in Decision 5.COM 10.2 would have greater visibility if integrated into the Operational Directives. The Committee agreed and adopted a decision in this regard, which was being sought for integration in paragraph 50 of the Operational Directives.

  • The Chairperson noted that the Secretariat had included paragraphs 47–53, even if most of the paragraphs remain unchanged. Moreover, paragraph 51 had been updated with references to the Evaluation Body. With no comments or objections, the Chairperson pronounced Part IV adopted.

  • The Secretary introduced the final set of amendments, Part V: Criteria and procedures for accreditation of non-governmental organizations explaining that it responded to a request from the General Assembly at its fourth session asking the Committee to reflect on the criteria and modalities for the accreditation of NGOs based on the Committee’s experience thus far, which called upon the services of accredited NGOs to act in an advisory capacity. The Committee undertook this reflection at its seventh and eighth sessions, requesting the Secretariat to carry out a desk study of the 156 NGOs currently accredited. The findings, together with observations from the IOS evaluation, were presented to the Committee at its eighth session. The Committee emphasized the important role of NGOs in implementing the Convention at national level, which was reinforced by IOS recommendations that States Parties should involve NGOs even more in their national safeguarding efforts. The Committee decided to encourage States Parties to involve relevant NGOs when preparing their periodic reports in order to complement their data, and that it would examine draft Operational Directives on that question at its ninth session. The Committee also found it advisable to revise the accreditation criteria to ensure that all accredited NGOs had the requisite experience and capacity to act in an advisory capacity, which linked to the concerns raised by Colombia, Peru and others on the profiles of experts within the new Evaluation Body. The Committee requested the Secretariat to draft revisions based upon its debates, and the provisions presented were the results of that process.

  • The Secretary further explained that NGOs had already played an important role in evaluating nominations as members of the Consultative Body, and that for their future advisory role in the Evaluation Body they would be requested to have additional operational capacities. Thus, the Committee did not propose to delete any of the existing accreditation criteria, but rather include additional criteria in paragraph 91, and recall part of the procedure for accreditation in paragraph 97, including: i) experience in the various fields of intangible cultural heritage; ii) experience in working at the international level or the capacity to extrapolate from local experience to apply it within an international context; iii) experience in evaluating and analysing documents, as nominations involve paperwork; iv) possess a very good command of either English or French, the working languages; and v) experience in drafting synthetic texts in English or French. Finally, if adopted by the General Assembly, the new criteria of the Operational Directives would be applied to new requests entering the ninth and tenth sessions of the Committee, and would apply to the quadrennial review by NGOs of their advisory contributions, corresponding to paragraph 94 of the Operational Directives beginning in 2015. Thus, these criteria would be applied to new requests for accreditation as of 2015, and to the review process of former accredited NGOs that would also be undertaken as of 2015.

  • The Chairperson remarked that this was another example where the Committee had drawn lessons from its first periods of applying the criteria originally adopted in 2008. Later in the day, the Assembly would be asked to accredit 22 additional NGOs, joining the 156 already accredited. The Chairperson was happy to see active engagement from civil society in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage around the world. The Committee, therefore, recommended to better support the criteria to meet real needs, as they had become known. The Chairperson also understood that NGOs without the necessary language capacities in English or French could not assume the responsibilities for providing advisory services and could, therefore, not be accredited.

  • The delegation of Indonesia thanked the Secretary for the outline of the proposed amendments regarding accreditation, which it fully supported. However, in order to take an informed and inclusive decision on this issue, the delegation proposed that a representative of the NGO Forum be given the opportunity to present a short response to the proposed amended criteria, as these amendments would directly affect both the presently accredited NGOs and any future accredited NGOs.

  • The Chairperson agreed that this was a very important suggestion because NGOs were the real partners of the Convention, having served intangible cultural heritage for many years before the Convention, and was proud of this partnership. NGOs would, therefore, be given a chance later to express their view.

  • The delegation of Republic of Korea appreciated the explanations on the new accreditation criteria, and understood the need to possess the technical aptitude for language fluency and the ability to draft documents, but that the priority should be given to experiences of community based activities in line with the spirit of the Convention rather than language efficacy.

  • The delegation of Belgium remarked that the Committee in Baku did not discuss the future involvement of NGOs at length, and that the thorough evaluation of the work by the NGOs had to still be performed. Thus, it was premature to already change the rules before conducting a general review. The delegation noted that the main changes proposed dealt with how NGOs function within the Evaluation Body, which concerned a very limited number of NGOs, and that their linguistic capacity would have been tested and checked thoroughly prior to any membership to the Evaluation Body. Moreover, paragraph 91(a) stated that these NGOs should ‘have proven competence, expertise and experience in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage belonging, inter alia, to one or more specific domains’, yet this specific criterion was not really tested nor was evidence of the fact requested. The delegation, therefore, felt that 91(a) of the Operational Directives should be more seriously investigated before making new amendments. Furthermore, paragraph 96 in the Operational Directives expressly invited accredited NGOs, inter alia, ‘to provide assistance in the examination of nomination files’; the ‘inter alia’ being very important as it alluded to more than one function of which 96(d) would probably become important as it asked for reports on the effects of safeguarding plans for elements inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List. Moreover, with the change in criterion U.3, and by making paragraph 39 really effective and operational, NGOs would likely be needed to evaluate the outcome of the safeguarding plans and possibly the removal of elements from the Urgent Safeguarding List. Thus, the delegation called for further reflection on the criteria while fully endorsing the statement by Indonesia to invite the NGO Forum to express its views.

  • The delegation of Peru felt that there was a need at some stage to promote the NGOs in countries or groups that did not yet have a large number of accredited NGOs, as well as to recommend in the Operational Directives that NGOs working to safeguard intangible cultural heritage establish a relationship both with the communities and States Parties, given that safeguarding intangible cultural heritage was of universal benefit. Therefore, one of the functions of the Convention was to promote dialogue between the various participating stakeholders.

  • The Chairperson thanked Peru, and suggested returning to the issue after lunchtime.

  • The Chairperson adjourned the morning session.

    [Tuesday 3 June 2014, afternoon session]

    ITEM 5.1 OF THE AGENDA (cont.):


    1. The Chairperson returned to the discussion, inviting States Parties to take the floor.

    2. The delegation of Latvia expressed its commitment to the importance of the issue and significant role that NGOs played in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and their cooperation both at the international, national and local levels. It congratulated the NGO Forum within the international debate on the implementation of the Convention and on the role of communities and NGOs within the process of safeguarding heritage. In this respect, it also looked forward to the intervention of the NGO Forum representative. As for the proposed amendments, the delegation remarked that the involvement of NGOs in an advisory capacity might also be carried out collectively, for instance, through the NGO Forum whose activities and international impact were growing. The expectation for NGOs to have advisory capacities was already expressed in paragraph 91(a) of the Operational Directives, which stated the need for competences, expertise and experience in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage belonging inter alia to one or more specific domains. Referring to the same paragraph, as well as paragraph 96 of the Operational Directives, and also recalling Article 9 of the Convention that mentions the advisory capacity to the Committee in general terms, the delegation believed that the advisory services on nominations, proposals and requests was a sphere, inter alia, among other possible areas where the advisory function might be fulfilled. Thus, it was of the opinion that the criteria for setting advisory capacities specifically on the evaluation of nominations, proposals and requests should not be an exclusive criterion for the accreditation of an NGO. Nevertheless, it might be important for the Committee to know whether the NGO in question possessed such capacities in order to be invited to give advice. Moreover, the relevant information would be welcomed for inclusion in the accreditation form. It, therefore, proposed deleting the proposed amendment from paragraph 91, though it had a proposal in paragraph 97, which it would later present. Nevertheless, it believed that the issues could be made more explicit once the accreditation form had been revised, and when the questions raised concerning the criteria with respect to expertise for membership to the Evaluation Body were agreed upon, as such criteria would apply to all experts including those from NGOs.

    3. Concurring with the remarks made by Latvia, the delegation of Estonia spoke of its appreciation of the work carried out in Baku by the Committee to reach a solution and achieve a consensus. It also wished to congratulate the Secretariat on the good work trying to pull together all the different positions that had been voiced. With regard to the criteria set out in paragraph 91(f), the delegation was of the opinion that they were necessary, as the skills required for conducting the evaluation exercise concerned only those NGOs for whom it was particularly pertinent. On the other hand, it believed that the role of NGOs and their accreditation should be much wider and inclusive, and not limited to these particular criteria. This was due to the fact that the cooperation of Member States with NGOs could be quite fertile on the ground in their home countries, so the role of national NGOs might be much wider than engaging them in this type of evaluation exercise. The delegation felt that any amendments should be brought about after results of the reports on the NGO’s experience during these past cycles was known, i.e. hearing about their experiences would benefit the Assembly. In this regard, it also supported the idea that these reports were important in order to make decisions on the kind of role that could potentially be assigned to NGOs. It concurred with the position that the points should be deleted from the Operational Directives, and was looking forward to the intervention by the NGO representative.

    4. The Representative of the NGO Forum thanked the Chairperson for giving the ICH NGO Forum the opportunity to express its view on the proposed substantive revisions of the Operational Directives. The ICH NGO Forum earlier already acknowledged and appreciated the Decision of the Committee 8.COM 13.b to strengthen NGO participation in the implementation of the Convention at all levels, and to encourage States Parties to promote increased NGO and community involvement in the development of policy, legislation, safeguarding, and sustainable development plans. This decision implied that acting in an advisory capacity to the Committee went far beyond the service of NGOs in the present Consultative Body and future Evaluation Body. The ICH NGO Forum was, therefore, surprised to note the proposed revision of criteria and procedures for accreditation of NGOs, believing that the proposed revision could be inconsistent with Decision 8.COM 14.b, as had been mentioned already by several States Parties in the debate. In order to ensure that the various advisory services of NGOs to the Committee continue to be recognized through the current accreditation process on the one hand, but also understanding the need to ensure requisite advisory capacities for participation in the Evaluation Body on the other hand, the ICH NGO Forum suggested that the proposed amendments 91(f) and 97(i) of the Operational Directives could specifically address NGO services in the Evaluation Body. The Forum further strongly acknowledged the important efforts the Secretariat made in processing accreditation files and was open to bring support within its capacity. It was emphasized how accreditation had been essential to NGOs’ contribution to implementation of the Convention. Furthermore, the ICH NGO Forum had noticed a discrepancy between Article 91(a) and proposed Article 91(f)(i) and 97(i) of the Operational Directives. On the one hand, NGOs were meant to operate in one or more specific domains of ICH – in 91(a) – and on the other hand, they would have to possess experience in the various fields of intangible cultural heritage – 91(f), 91(i) and 97(i). It was of the view that the wording in 91(a) on one or more specific domains should also apply.

    5. The delegation of Norway suggested that the problem with the 91(f) paragraph (pertaining to advisory capacities for evaluation of nominations, proposals and requests) was that as it stood, it read as a continuation of (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e), but could be interpreted as a new sub-paragraph that overruled the former sub-paragraphs. It believed that it could be wise to include the (f) formulations in the directives in another form, either included as a new paragraph stating that it referred only to NGOs in their capacity as advisory bodies for the Committee or included in (f) in paragraph 96 under ‘Advisory functions’. However, owing to its importance, the delegation was inclined to postpone the amendments because of the confusion, adding that the General Assembly and the States Parties could reflect further on the issue and return in two years with a new formulation.

    6. The delegation of Belgium supported the opinion by Norway and Estonia to delete the proposed amendments and postpone the decision for two years to reflect on the proposal by the NGO Forum.

    7. The delegation of France felt that the proposal by Norway and others was a good solution and that a clearly redacted, stand-alone paragraph could be included which would solve the problems that had arisen in the present wording. The delegation wished to add another minor amendment in f(i) so that it referred to ‘experience in one or more of the various fields of intangible cultural heritage’ so as to remove any ambiguity, as NGOs did not necessarily have skills in all areas but rather in one or more domains of intangible cultural heritage.

    8. The Chairperson noted that there were two suggestions by Norway and France, with Belgium going along with the NGOs. He asked the Assembly whether it agreed to postpone the amendments and not change the Operational Directives at that stage.

    9. The delegation of Colombia remarked that there were two different proposals put forward: to delete the amendment 91(f) or to insert this amendment into paragraph 96. It concurred with the general debate and the NGO Forum that these were important criteria for consultative work but not for the general accreditation of NGOs. It proposed that the criteria also be applied and considered by the electoral groups in their selection of State experts.

    10. The delegation of France suggested that the amendments be projected onto the screen so that the Assembly could clearly refer to the proposals put forward by Norway.

    11. The Secretary clarified that two opinions had been expressed, which were not necessarily contradictory, but that generally speaking delegations did not support the amendments as proposed. Some wished to see the amendment in paragraph 91(f) moved to paragraph 96 as these criteria should only apply to advisory services, while others preferred to postpone refining the criteria until evaluation of the first reports of the NGOs that had already served on the Consultative Body.

    12. The delegation of Norway wished to clarify that it did not propose a concrete amendment, but rather it had suggested possible solutions. It also said that it would go along with the Assembly should it wish to postpone a decision on such an important and delicate matter, adding that it was unfair to start drafting amendments in the plenary session. The delegation suggested that the issue be put to the Committee for further reflection so that a correct formulation in the right place in the Operational Directives could be proposed in two years’ time.

    13. Thanking Norway for the clarification, the Chairperson was of the understanding that Colombia was suggesting that experts from NGOs could be nominated as long as they had accreditation. In addition, the electoral group would carry out evaluation of the experts, followed by the Committee. The Chairperson, therefore, asked the Assembly whether they supported the idea to maintain the Operational Directives without the amendments, which seemed to be a better solution at that stage. With no objections, the Chairperson pronounced adopted the decision to maintain the Operational Directives with no changes with respect to the issue.

    14. The delegation of Peru agreed with the position of the amendment but that in the future an analysis be made to differentiate requirements for accreditation of NGOs and selection to participate in the Evaluation Body as experts. It, therefore, recommended returning to the issue in another General Assembly when the two sets of requirements had been well differentiated.

    15. The Chairperson thanked Peru, adding that every proposal had its own procedures and criteria. With the item nearing its conclusion, the Chairperson invited the Secretary to conclude with the final issue under item 5.1.

    16. The Secretary remarked that the Assembly had concluded the adoption of the proposed amendments but needed to pronounce on the topic of the referral option. The Secretary recalled that at its fourth session, the General Assembly requested the Committee to reflect on the experience gained implementing the referral option of the Representative List and to report on it at the present session. With reference to working document 5.1 the Committee had debated the question at its seventh and eighth sessions, and ultimately decided that it did not wish to propose draft Operational Directives at the time, preferring to continue its reflection. Thus, no amendments in the Operational Directives would be proposed.

    17. Having adopted the specific issues, the Chairperson turned to the draft resolution.

    18. The delegation of Belgium wished to recall Decision 8.COM. 13.a (point 4) in which the Committee in Baku recommended to the General Assembly that a new chapter of the Operational Directives on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development at the national level be drawn up for examination by the Assembly at its sixth session. It therefore proposed that the Assembly welcome and agree Decision 8.COM. 13.a.

    19. The Chairperson thanked Belgium for its good suggestion, which was in line with the spirit of the proposal. With no further comments or objections, the Chairperson declared Resolution 5.GA 5.1 adopted.



    Document: ITH/14/5.GA/5.2

    Resolution: 5.GA 5.2

    1. The Chairperson moved to item 5.2 on the terminological revisions of the Operational Directives.

    2. The Secretary recalled that the Operational Directives were adopted and published in six equally authoritative languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. During that process, occasional inconsistencies had arisen in the terminology used from one linguistic version to another, and from one paragraph to another within the same language. During its eighth session, the Committee requested the Secretariat to propose minor terminological revisions to align the terminology across all linguistic versions and within each version. The primary reference for the Directives in each language was the respective language text of the Convention. As the working languages of the Committee were English and French, the Operational Directives in those languages were aligned first so that they could serve as additional references for the Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish versions. The Secretary explained that most of the proposed terminological linguistic changes were unique to a single language, while other language versions were not affected. Thus, the present document had six different annexes, which were specific to each language. Only those paragraphs that required revision were included in the respective annex of that language. Referring to document 5.1, the Secretary explained that both the substantive revisions and the terminological revisions approved in the present session would be reflected in the final version of the Basic Texts at the time of publishing. Moreover, the Secretariat had updated the documents in line with the passages that had just been adopted as part of Resolution 5.GA 5.1. It also corrected the revisions in the different linguistic versions as per the written proposals, where appropriate, including those received by China. With no forthcoming additional revisions, the Secretary concluded that the proposed changes did not need to be complemented by any other additions.

    3. The Chairperson reiterated that there were different changes in each language version and thus suggested to proceed by going through the annex for each language, adding that any additional corrections communicated in writing to the Secretariat would be integrated into the relevant text later in the day by the Rapporteur. The Chairperson turned to the annexes. With no comments or amendments to any of the linguistic versions, they were adopted. The Chairperson thus declared Resolution 5.GA 5.2 adopted.


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