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

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  1. The Chairperson was happy to note that the Assembly had efficiently tackled all the specific items on its agenda. However, before closing the meeting, he wished to discuss an important matter that had been discussed in the morning session of the Bureau. The Chairperson explained that just after his election as Chairperson, he received a message from the external auditor explaining that by its 37 C/Resolution 96, the General Conference requested the External Auditor to audit the governance of UNESCO, its dependent funds and intergovernmental programmes or entities, which included the General Assembly of the 2003 Convention. The work involved a self-assessment of the overall relevance of the Assembly’s work in relation to its specific terms of reference, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of its meetings, including the impact and utility of experts’ time. The message from the auditor contained two questionnaires composing the self-assessment framework, the terms of reference of the audit, and the model letter that was sent to all chairpersons of the governing bodies of those different entities. The deadline for responding to these questionnaires was
    2 September 2014. The Bureau had concluded that the General Assembly be informed of the procedure so as to be able to respond to the request, especially as the Chairperson was unable to complete the questionnaire without contributions from the Assembly. The Secretariat would help facilitate the process, but the answers to the substantive questions could only be given by the General Assembly, the conclusions of which would eventually lead to recommendations on the functioning of UNESCO’s governing bodies. The Bureau, therefore, proposed that the questionnaires be sent to all States Parties by the Secretariat on the Chairperson’s behalf, asking them to complete the self-assessment and send their answers to the Chairperson of their respective electoral group. Factual information, such as the number of meetings and so on, would be completed by the Secretariat. The Chairperson of the electoral groups would then synthesize the answers into one consolidated document. The Chairperson would consolidate these answers and return the questionnaires to the auditor.

  2. The delegation of Sweden congratulated the Chairperson and the Secretariat for the successful session of the General Assembly. It supported the proposal presented, while underlining the importance of implementing the decision on governance reform. The delegation remarked that one of the major challenges identified by the independent external evaluation was the need to strengthen UNESCO’s governance, with all its governing bodies and their associated programmes, committees and conventions, being asked to get involved in the governance reform for which all States Parties had to take responsibility. It added that it was neither the time nor place to discuss the governance audit and selfassessment framework in detail, but that it fully supported the Chairperson and his proposal that States Parties take responsibility to complete the questionnaires because it was not possible for one Chairperson to do so alone.

  3. Thanking Sweden, the Chairperson added that States Parties had time to communicate with the Secretariat and their respective electoral groups to complete the questionnaire by
    2 September 2014.

  4. The delegation of Grenada congratulated the Chairperson on his chairmanship, as well as the new elected members of the Committee. As an outgoing member of the Committee, the delegation assured the Assembly of its commitment to the work for the benefit of the Convention. The delegation subscribed to the proposed assessment process, echoing the remarks by Sweden that it was an important exercise that should involve the majority of States Parties. With regard to the information on number of meetings, expenses of the statutory meetings and so on, the delegation wondered whether it would be possible to have the Secretariat pre-fill that part of the questionnaire before sending them out to the States Parties, adding that it would be helpful as they didn’t necessarily have that kind of information at hand, and it would assist States Parties with responding to the questions or it would at least provide a clearer idea about the governance mechanism.

  5. Before turning to the Secretariat for an answer, the Chairperson thanked Grenada and reiterated the process of this self-evaluation: i) the Secretariat sends the questionnaire to all States Parties on his behalf; ii) the States Parties complete the questionnaire to the extent possible and return it to the chairperson of the State Party’s respective electoral group;
    iii) the chairperson of the electoral group then submits the consolidated answers to him (the Chairperson of the Assembly) who synthesizes these views and submits the consolidated questionnaire to the auditor.

  6. The Secretary agreed that the kind of information would only be very basic, as the questionnaire was addressed specifically to the States Parties and not the Secretariat. The Secretary also informed the States Parties that the Resolutions adopted during the session would be made available online from the following day, subject to linguistic revision, while the final version in the six languages would be published before the end of June.



  1. The Chairperson thanked the Assembly for its cooperation and support, adding that
    10 years might seem a short lifetime, but for the Convention, it had been long enough to witness many constructive transformations of ambitious plans from the initial drafters of the Convention in response to the needs and aspirations of communities. Despite the challenging realities of limited resources and human capacities, the General Assembly had the opportunity to confront some of these challenges. It had made substantive revisions of the Operational Directives that would orient future work, both as States Parties and at the international level. It had successfully established a new Evaluation Body, which would streamline and facilitate the work of the Committee. It had adopted a budget that would make available more than US$4 million to support safeguarding efforts, for which the capacity-building programme had garnered wholehearted satisfaction and recognised that enormous needs still remained. The Chairperson called upon States Parties once again to continue providing support to this programme. It had accredited 22 NGOs resulting in
    178 NGOs ready to advise the Committee on diverse issues. The Chairperson congratulated the NGOs once again for their interest in the Convention. The Assembly had elected 12 new members of the Committee and, therefore, the mandate of 12 of the current members had come to an end. The Chairperson congratulated the Committee members for their excellent work, and he wished the new members every success. He also thanked the Assembly for the successful work accomplished, and for its enthusiasm and willingness to work together in the spirit of consensus and cooperation. He also paid tribute to the members of the Bureau for their support and trust. The Chairperson thanked the interpreters, translators, the room clerks and the technicians responsible for the smooth functioning of the meeting. Finally, he thanked the Secretary and her team for their assistance, efficiency and commitment despite the demands placed on them throughout the meeting. The Chairperson concluded by remarking on the exceptional achievement of the session, while acknowledging the efforts of the Secretariat for which he extended his gratitude. He recalled that he had been working on the Convention since 2006, adding that the commitment by all to work together and exercise ideas and common beliefs was a positive sign. He spoke of his privilege and pleasure to be nominated to the role of Chairperson by the Arab group, even though it was an unexpected decision. The Chairperson hoped that he had met their expectations while thanking all the States Parties, and was looking forward to future sessions, as well as bilateral and regional level consultations.


  1. The Chairperson declared the fifth session of the General Assembly closed.

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