Part II of the Annex provides a complete overview of the measures taken by States Parties to implement the Convention, including institutional capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, inventories, different types of safeguarding measures implemented, as well as cooperation at the bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international level. The Secretary highlighted the wide range of measures adopted by the 16 State Parties in their implementation of the Convention, particularly the different approaches and methodologies for inventorying intangible cultural heritage. However, more reports would be necessary to be able to assess the degree to which different inventorying efforts are in line with the Convention, though significant trends and preliminary conclusions could be drawn. In general, institutional capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage vary widely. In some cases, the national legislation on intangible cultural heritage existed prior to the ratification of the Convention, as in Japan, the Republic of Korea or Algeria. Several other States revised existing legislation, enacted new legislation or were in the process of doing so since ratification, as in Belarus, Viet Nam, Mexico and Gabon.
The Secretary wished to underline the great variety of country contexts with regard to political structures, social realities, and geographical and environmental factors. Typically, an overall cultural policy body – usually the Ministry of Culture – implements safeguarding and management through a cultural heritage directorate or similar body; in some cases, a specialist committee is tasked with safeguarding and/or inventorying. In some countries, on-the-ground safeguarding activities and even policy-making are decentralized to local or regional administrative authorities. Traditional community level management of intangible cultural heritage still operates in certain States Parties, such as in Mali and Viet Nam, while indigenous populations form a significant interest group in Mexico and Peru, enjoying special constitutional safeguards that positively affect their intangible cultural heritage. However, well-developed capacities at the central government level may not necessarily extend to all regions of the country even though local authorities play a key role in supporting the safeguarding activities of local communities and practitioner associations such as in Croatia, Mali, Viet Nam and Peru. With regard to training in intangible cultural heritage management, some countries have well-developed systems that not only reach out to government officials and cultural professionals but also members of NGOs, civil society organizations and the communities. In several countries such as the Republic of Korea, Peru and Croatia, professional associations are linked to almost all listed intangible cultural heritage elements, and are active in identifying, inventorying, documenting, performing, researching, teaching and promoting intangible cultural heritage. Most States Parties have specialized documentation institutions such as national archives and/or library, national and local museums, research institutes, universities and some specialized NGOs or other associations.
The Secretary further underlined the importance of ethical considerations and intellectual property in the collection and public availability of documentary materials and recordings on intangible heritage. For example, there is a strong awareness in the Seychelles in this regard, which is covered by the 2008 Research Protocol and 1994 Copyright Act. Similarly, inclusion in Mexico’s inventory includes the principle that a code of ethics be drafted should communities not wish to disclose any information or if their intellectual property or collective knowledge is affected. The Secretary also noted that States had adopted different approaches for inventorying intangible cultural heritage; variations occurred from a territorial approach to a specific community-based approach. Methodological approaches generally reflected structures and categories similar to forms prepared by UNESCO (including criteria for inscription and assessment of the viability of elements). The viability of the intangible cultural heritage in the inventory was also a major concern for most States Parties. A few States Parties had not yet initiated the process of inventorying their intangible cultural heritage even though they have been collecting and documenting it in non-inventory programmes. Conversely the Republic of Korea has been undertaking intangible heritage inventorying since 1962. Typically, the lead directorate or a special committee of the ministry oversees the inventorying process. Additionally, most States were creating a single national inventory of intangible cultural heritage, although this may operate in tandem with other pre-existing registers or regional or topical inventories. The order of principles applied to inventories also varied with the most common being the domains of intangible cultural heritage, then territorial national or local principles, followed by the communities. It was noted that inventories were categorized according to domains that were usually similar to those in Article 2.24 of the Convention, while the criteria used to include elements were often similar to those for nomination to the Representative List.
With regard to updating inventories, the Secretary noted three possible ways: through regular inspection, through the inclusion of a new element, or through re-evaluation by practitioners/bearers. Community participation in identifying and inventorying intangible cultural heritage also varied, and the Secretary cited examples of good practice such as in Croatia where the committee consults closely with relevant communities and bearers before entry on the register. In Belarus, the national inventory was designed with the broad participation of regions and communities, as well as special regional committees composed of community representatives, local authority officials and heritage bearers. In Viet Nam, local people participate in inventory questionnaires, propose elements, provide information, and are consulted on safeguarding plans. In Mali, the inventory is built up by using local interviewers, namely community members or representatives from local businesses, women’s and children’s associations, educational associations and so on. In Peru, the technical file is endorsed by the bearers/performers of the element who provide their informed consent. The Mongolian national committee includes representatives from relevant NGOs, communities and groups who fully participate in identifying, selecting and designating the elements and their bearers. Communities identify new elements for inclusion in the Nigerian inventory, and cultural officers are then dispatched to verify the claims and ascertain whether the element merits inclusion. NGOs also play a role as advisers to State organs in inventorying intangible cultural heritage, as in Lithuania.
With regard to safeguarding measures, the Secretary noted large variations between States. Some have introduced an extremely wide range of measures at the national and local level: regulatory measures, integration of intangible cultural heritage in the national development strategy, identification and documentation, field research, financial and institutional support for practitioners, conferences, workshops, dissemination and exhibitions in national museums, recording and digitalization, training, and apprenticeship programmes. In other cases, measures are more modest, but often include support for research and documentation, capacity building, and support to some bearers and practitioners. The Secretary highlighted the role of intangible cultural heritage in fostering sustainable development, adding that some government ministries (i.e. in Syria) have incorporated intangible heritage in their planning and development programmes. Some States Parties gave substantial attention to the tangible aspects of heritage associated with intangible cultural heritage and natural spaces. It was also noted that intangible cultural heritage is recognized and enhanced through the use of print and audio-visual materials via the Internet, and in the organization of festivals to raise awareness among the general public, particularly among the youth.
The Secretary also drew attention to the interesting trend by many States Parties of incorporating intangible cultural heritage into their higher education institutions, universities, specialist musical conservatories, and heritage institutions, which range from teaching skills and knowledge related to its practice and performance, research methodologies and field work, to cultural heritage management for future professionals. However, the lack of financial resources for inventorying and safeguarding were noted in several reports (Peru and Lithuania). The Secretary therefore suggested that the Committee encourage States to provide detailed information on the financial aspects of safeguarding intangible heritage when submitting their reports. Given the disparity of experience on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, the Secretary spoke of the key role that international cooperation could play in developing capacities, sharing experience, and identifying good practices. She stressed the potentially important cooperation by category 2 centres, adding that the Republic of Korea is well-placed to promote regional networking and information sharing with other countries in the region through the category 2 centre (ICHCAP); CRESPIAL in Peru has also greatly strengthened cooperation across the 14 Latin American countries with regard to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and implementing the Convention, particularly as different regions and sub-regions often have common social, cultural, economic and environmental characteristics as well as shared elements. The main activities in such cooperative frameworks include: exchange of information and experience on safeguarding; sharing documentation on a common element; collaboration over developing inventorying methodologies; hosting joint seminars and workshops; and co-hosting festivals. Belarus, for example, carries out a lot of its work within the frameworks of the CIS (with Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia), and the Eurasian Economic Community (Belarus, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan).
The Secretary spoke of another initiative related to the creation of a network of professionals, communities and centres of expertise for the Mvett – a common element of intangible heritage of the Fang community shared between four States of the Central African sub-region (Gabon, Cameroon, Congo and Equatorial Guinea) under the aegis of the International Centre for Bantu Civilizations (CICIBA). In the Mediterranean region, the Mediterranean Living Heritage (MEDLIHER), co-financed by the European Union and UNESCO, was also aimed at safeguarding the intangible heritage of Mediterranean countries such as Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. International cooperation was also further encouraged by the existence of multinational inscriptions such as ‘Falconry, a living human heritage’, ‘Baltic song and dance celebrations’, ‘Nowrouz’, and the ‘Oral heritage and cultural manifestations of the Zápara people’.
Introducing Part III of the Annex, the Secretary explained that it provides a synthesis of the status of the 52 elements inscribed on the Representative List, as covered by the reports. She underlined the extremely broad range of elements among the various domains including oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship. It was noted that States Parties had provided detailed information on the social and cultural functions of the elements, their viability, the safeguarding measures adopted, and the participation of communities. These elements frequently provide communities and even nations with a sense of cultural identity with some elements reflecting intellectual traditions, the philosophy and worldview of a community, or have a religious or spiritual significance. In Mali for example, the function of intangible cultural heritage within society is strong, playing a central role in resolving social conflicts and creating social harmony. With regard to viability and the revitalization of intangible cultural heritage, some States Parties achieved this by encouraging initiatives from the communities through local measures or through organizations such as NGOs. States unanimously reported on the positive effects of international recognition on practitioners and the general public as this highlighted the shared commitment towards strengthening the element’s viability. Conversely, one of the most recurrent risks was linked to the inappropriate promotion and excessive marketing of inscribed elements in attracting public attention that could potentially lead to the standardization of artistic expressions and the violation of privacy, trade secrets or know-how.
The Secretary noted that elements are seen to contribute towards the goals of the Representative List in different ways: by fostering cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue; by instilling a sense of pride in both the communities and the wider national society; and by encouraging local communities and the authorities to take steps towards safeguarding. A very important aspect from the reports revealed that the communities and the individual bearers are identified as key actors in efforts to promote or reinforce the element, as well as in its safeguarding, although the reports did not describe to what extent the communities approved the written reports. The Secretary noted that the summary in Part III of the Annex does not enter into great detail on the status of the different elements and the impacts of inscription, although the set of reports submitted provides some detailed information that deserves careful reading. Finally, Part IV of the Annex provides general comments and conclusions about the challenging reporting exercise, with the Secretariat emphasizing some topics that could receive greater attention from the submitting States and from the Committee in future reporting cycles.
Noting the applause, the Chairpersoncommented on the hard work carried out by the Secretariat, thanking the Secretary for her detailed report. Following a few practical announcements, the Chairperson adjourned the morning session.
[Monday 3 December, afternoon session]
ITEM 6 OF THE AGENDA (CONT.):
EXAMINATION OF THE REPORTS OF STATES PARTIES ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION AND ON THE CURRENT STATUS OF ELEMENTS INSCRIBED ON THE REPRESENTATIVE LIST
The Chairperson welcomed the Assistant Director-General for Culture, Mr Francesco Bandarin to the podium, and thanked the Secretary for the useful overview of the task ahead. Referring to document 6, the Chairperson highlighted the comments in the latter section that he felt would be useful to States Parties, especially those now preparing reports. For instance, future reports might give greater attention to new or revised legislation in order to allow for comparative examination, particularly for States considering legislative reforms. It was noted that with the exception of the Seychelles, there was little or no reference made to government policies, legislative, administrative or other approaches towards respecting customary practices governing access to specific aspects of intangible heritage, which could be better addressed in future reports. Another related and important issue concerned the need for guidelines or a code of ethics for the conduct of research in and collection of intangible cultural heritage and related knowledge and practices, which also would have deserved greater attention in the reports. Other relevant issues that could be addressed include the treatment of ICH-related knowledge, skills, practices, and performances that give rise to moral and/or economic benefits for their creators and users such as intellectual property, audio-visual media, and the potential commercial exploitation of traditional knowledge with the risk of distorting intangible cultural heritage. Another closely linked issue was the question of access to documentation by communities relating to their own intangible cultural heritage.
The Chairperson also suggested that in future cycles States Parties provide more information on the role of NGOs and civil society organizations, as well as on the relationship between tourism and intangible cultural heritage. Similarly, States may wish to address the question of commercialization. Moreover, it would be useful to learn of measures taken to support craftspeople and artisans, such as tax exemptions, certificates of origin and/or authenticity, advice on packaging and design of products, marketing and so on. Document 6 also recommends highlighting the interaction between the intangible heritage of indigenous populations and their human rights with regard to the safeguarding measures proposed. In some cases, information was provided on the legislative and policy framework designed to support minority and indigenous languages as a means of safeguarding intangible heritage, which would have deserved fuller attention in States Parties’ reporting. The Chairperson opened the floor to comments on the sixteen periodic reports and the working document.
The delegation of Belgium emphasized the link between the report and the evolution of the Operational Directives, concluding that several sections of the Operational Directives could be fine-tuned accordingly. For example, the issue mentioned in paragraph 102 (also in paragraph 103 of the Operational Directives) highlighted the need for guidelines or a code of ethics, which had not yet been sufficiently addressed. The delegation believed that it is time that the Secretariat and international institutions begin working on a model code of ethics with regard to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, and proposed to discuss the issue at a future Committee meeting or at least to reflect it in Decision 7.COM 6. Other urgent issues include sustainable development (mentioned several times in the report), and access and benefit-sharing, which could draw inspiration from programmes of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. Additionally, the relationship between intangible cultural heritage and tourism are discussed in paragraph 105, but are not very constructive in the Operational Directives with regard to safeguarding and sustainable tourism, and this aspect could be further developed. The importance of NGOs and civil society organizations is mentioned in the report but the potential for NGO networks, as partners for developing and implementing the 2003 Convention, had not been fully utilized. Finally, paragraph 64 makes reference to intangible cultural heritage specialists instead of safeguarding specialists or specialists in participatory methods, and with scant information available it suggested a need for additional Operational Directives with regard to the important function and role of mediators, facilitators and heritage brokers. In this way, paragraph 109 of the Operational Directives could be completed in this regard or an additional directive could be added.
The delegation of Latvia congratulated the 16 States Parties for submitting their reports, as well as the Secretariat for its overview summarizing the impressive progress in the implementation of the Convention. For States Parties that had not submitted reports, the delegation asked the Secretariat whether it had communicated with them as to the reasons for the delay. The delegation noted the wide variety of experiences, contexts and approaches to national safeguarding, nevertheless commonalities become apparent when comparing the reports. For example, several States Parties had made huge efforts to establish favourable legislative and political frameworks for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, with some integrating them into their national development strategies, even though some policy documents were declarative in nature and did not always lead to practical results. The delegation drew attention to the lack of information on the effective coordination mechanisms facilitating the coordination of the various actors involved in safeguarding at the different levels and sectors. Although the reports revealed increased training in intangible cultural heritage management, there still appeared to be low human capacity among the responsible institutes and organizations, particularly at the local level, while the lack of an NGO sector appeared a main challenge in many States Parties, further emphasizing the need to continue with the capacity-building strategy. In addition, the digitization of intangible cultural heritage should be better addressed so as to keep up with the information age. The delegation added that intangible cultural heritage should be used as a resource for developing the creative and cultural industries, while cultural tourism relied on States Parties to report on their experiences and challenges. In the meantime, UNESCO should come up with a more proactive position with regard to the sustainable use of intangible cultural heritage in socio-economic development processes. The delegation appreciated the transmission of intangible cultural heritage through educational measures, as recognized by the majority of countries. However, the integration of intangible cultural heritage into formal education as well as the capacity of teachers to use intangible cultural heritage in a holistic way to organize learning processes remained unconvincing. The delegation noted that in the current reporting cycle, 9 out of the 16 States Parties submitting national reports shared multinational elements and suggested that they report on their shared heritage in the next reporting cycle. The delegation recalled the objectives of the Convention that sought multilateral representation of intangible cultural heritage and international cooperation, adding that a more coordinated approach in reporting would facilitate dialogue and the exchange of good practices for safeguarding shared heritage.
The delegation of Grenadawelcomed the document concerning the reports and congratulated the States Parties for responding to their obligations, and encouraged those States Parties that had yet to submit their reports to do so. The delegation also commended the Secretariat for its detailed overview and summary, which informed States Parties on specific measures and good practices, while highlighting where they could find specific information, clearly showing that there was no one-fits-all model. The reports also showed that work was on-going in the field, and the delegation noted with satisfaction that many States Parties integrated intangible cultural heritage in their national development strategies and had revised or enacted new legislation. The reports also recall that safeguarding involves all stakeholders that include a multiplicity of actors such as government institutions, local authorities, community groups, NGOs, academic institutions, civil society, experts, national commissions, and also when and where possible category 2 centres. The capacity-building programme addressed to youth was also mentioned in the report, which strengthened the capacity of actors to actively identify elements and mobilize efforts in favour of intangible cultural heritage. The delegation noted the diverse initiatives to implement the protection of intellectual property and other forms of legal protection of intangible cultural heritage, which ensured that the communities concerned were the primary beneficiaries. For example, Peru respected the rights of communities to make decisions concerning their traditional ecological knowledge for their own benefit. Other notable points in the reports include the importance of community participation throughout the entire process and capacity-building at all levels. The delegation welcomed the use of new technologies whenever possible in support of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The summary also showed that greater attention should be given to describing the current risks, which not only appeared in section B under ‘assessment of viability and current risks’ but were also spread throughout the summary under adaptation to changing social and political circumstances, challenges under globalization, rural to urban migration, and the dilution of the form of an element to make it easier and faster to acquire, and so on. The results of the work of the capacity-building strategy through UNESCO Headquarters and regional offices also produced concrete results at the national level.
The delegation of Morocco congratulated the States Parties for their submitted periodic reports and the Secretariat for its clear summary of the content and underlying trends. The reports had proved their usefulness by providing a status of the implementation of the Convention, while underscoring the gaps in legislative and institutional policy and financial and human resources in some States Parties. The summary also highlighted such important points as the notion of de-contextualization, denaturing, professionalization, and sustainable tourism, which are defined under certain contexts outside the Convention, but are not clearly defined within the Convention or the Operational Directives. The delegation explained that clear definitions are much needed and would help determine the effects resulting from these actions, which it surmised could be based on the practices described in the periodic reports.
The delegation of Egypt thanked the Secretary and her team for their excellent work and for their important comments to the report that Egypt submitted for the first time. The representative spoke of Egypt’s new database of intangible cultural heritage that is currently being prepared and translated into English, French and Spanish, which would help Egypt in the implementation of the Convention, adding that it would send it to the Secretariat for its comments and recommendations.
The representative of the accredited NGO Traditions for Tomorrow, official partner of UNESCO, Mr Diego Gradis took note of the informative annex of the report, adding that the NGO Forum held on 2 December had worked on the essential role of communities in the implementation of the Convention. Mr Gradis believed that it was important to highlight the importance of NGOs in the draft decision, as well as the determination of States Parties to integrate communities as widely as possible in the implementation of the Convention, as indicated in their activities described in the reports. Mr Gradis also appreciated the mention in the summary prepared by the Secretariat of the importance of protection of intellectual property rights.
The Chairperson thanked the speakers for their helpful observations, and asked the Secretary whether a report would be submitted to the General Assembly.
The Secretary explained that the duty of the Committee consisted of examining the periodic reports and submitting an overview to the General Assembly. She recalled that the first overview on periodic reports examined by the Committee in Bali was submitted to the General Assembly during its fourth session in June 2012. The Secretariat had provided this overview as an annex to document 6 so that the Secretariat could submit it to the General Assembly in 2014 together with the overview of the third reporting cycle that will be examined in 2013 by the Committee. Responding to the question by Latvia, the Secretary explained that some States had not submitted their reports because they had wished to thoroughly respond to the comments made by the Secretariat and had consequently missed the deadline. With regard to Egypt’s database, the Secretary replied that the Secretariat would be pleased to review it and give a feedback. Responding to Belgium’s comments on the Operational Directives, the Secretary explained that concrete amendments could be proposed to the draft decision.
The Chairperson noted the good recommendations from the floor, suggesting that States Parties propose them in writing to the Secretariat. The Chairperson then moved to the draft decision.
Presenting an amendment in paragraph 11, the delegation of Belgium proposed to invite the Secretariat to begin working with other organizations on an international model code of ethics, which would save States Parties time, since they could refer and adapt it to their own situation.
The delegation of Grenada made an editorial suggestion to the amendment that included mention of paragraph 103 of the Operational Directives. The delegation of Morocco also made an editorial correction in the French version.
With no further comments or objections, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 6 as amended.