The Vice-Chairperson began by thanking the Chairperson for entrusting Spain with the honour to chair the discussion, before turning to item 10 and the examination of requests for international assistance greater than US$25,000. The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had received four international assistance requests greater than US$25,000 in 2011 but had not approved any. However, it did consider that with proper revision they would adequately respond to the selection criteria, as established in paragraph 12 of the Operational Directives. As previously explained, the Bureau subsequently granted two requests from Mongolia and Uganda. With regard to the two remaining requests, the request from Uruguay, which had been re-submitted to the Secretariat on 16 November 2012, would be examined by the new Bureau to be elected on Friday. The fourth request (jointly submitted by Bolivia, Chile and Peru) had been withdrawn. Speaking on behalf of the Bureau, the Chairperson spoke of the exercise as awkward, requesting that the situation be avoided in the future.
Returning to the work at hand, the Chairperson noted that for the first time the number of requests for international assistance exceeded nominations to the Urgent Safeguarding List. This was particularly positive as resources were available to meet the requests and it showed the longer-term commitment to safeguarding efforts, especially as many of the requests were linked to inventories. Moreover, the 2012 cycle had the largest number of requests ever with the Consultative Body evaluating ten requests, though Uruguay withdrew its request. The task of the Committee was to examine the inscription criteria, though like those for the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices were not all mandatory. Thus, drawing on the recommendations by the Consultative Body, the Committee’s decision would be based on the degree to which each request responded to the criteria in their totality. The Chairperson asked the Secretary to remind the Committee of the criteria.
Projecting the criteria on the screen, the Secretary read aloud the seven criteria, as well as paragraph 10 of the Operational Directives.
The Chairperson remarked that the Committee’s task was now to decide whether or not the requests sufficiently satisfy the criteria without necessarily meeting each of them separately.
For the last time, the Rapporteur of the Consultative Body recalled that in contrast to the criteria for inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List or Representative List, all of which must be fully satisfied before an element is inscribed, the criteria for international assistance were not all obligatory. The overall recommendation is therefore based not on fully satisfying all criteria but instead on the degree to which the request responds to the criteria as a whole. Another specificity of international assistance is that a favourable decision of the Committee leads to the establishment of a contractual relationship between UNESCO and the organization designated by the requesting State as responsible for the project’s implementation. That contract must strictly reflect the scope of work proposed in the approved request and correspond exactly to its timetable and budget, except for minor technical corrections. Among the ten requests evaluated, two received a positive recommendation. It was difficult in several cases for the Consultative Body to get a clear idea of the purpose of the project and to assess its feasibility. In fact even if the State had endeavoured to respond with the specific information requested in each section, the overall rationale of the request was often not clear. The Consultative Body therefore considered that introducing a brief summary of the project and its objective in the request form could stem this trend in future cycles, requesting the Secretariat to modify the form accordingly. The Consultative Body was pleased to note that a number of requests aimed at supporting projects that emphasized wider development goals such as climate change adaptation, food security and poverty alleviation. As already pointed out in its 2011 report, a number of requests seemed to be inadequately framed in terms of the main purpose for which the Convention provides assistance which is, according to its Art. 19, to support States Parties ‘in their efforts to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage’. The Consultative Body had the impression that certain requests confused the objectives of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund with the International Fund for Cultural Diversity established under the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Requests for international assistance can certainly include an income-generating component or seek to broaden the market for expressions of intangible cultural heritage, but the main objective should be to create an enabling environment for communities to practice and transmit their intangible cultural heritage and not to develop or strengthen cultural industries.
With regard to planning and project design, the Rapporteur remarked that in its 2011 report, the Consultative Body pointed to a problem that persisted in the 2012 requests: the difficulty of designing safeguarding plans that satisfy criterion A.2 (‘the amount of assistance requested is appropriate’) and criterion A.3 (‘the proposed activities are well conceived and feasible’). Most requests proposed activities that were too general and were not sufficiently described, making it difficult to properly evaluate their relevance and feasibility. These two criteria are decisive in the overall recommendation and all eight of the requests that were not recommended did not provide adequate responses to these two criteria. As in 2011, the Consultative Body therefore emphasized the crucial importance of coherency and consistency between the activities proposed, their timetable and their estimated costs. A number of requests confused objectives and results; the former were moreover often too far-reaching and unrealistic, even unconnected to the other components of the request such as the amount requested, the planned timeframe or the implementing capacities. It was considered important that requests clearly distinguish between long-term and short-term effects both to understand the global strategy in which the project would fit and to evaluate the appropriateness of the proposed activities to produce the expected results in the time foreseen. As highlighted its general report (Document ITH/12/7.COM/7), international assistance should be neither the first step nor the last for safeguarding, rather States Parties should envision a longer safeguarding process; one part of which is their request for international assistance.
With regard to sustainability and multiplier effects, the Rapporteur remarked that this aspect remained problematic, with the Consultative Body acknowledging the difficulty of evaluating criterion A.4 (‘the project may have lasting results’) since States are requested to imagine how the benefits of the project may last beyond its end, which assumed projections, assumptions and uncertainties. In order to ensure as fair and objective an evaluation as possible of criterion A.4, the Consultative Body did not limit itself to the information provided in the section of the form specifically dedicated to sustainability, but endeavoured to determine whether the file as a whole sufficiently supported its statements on the project’s sustainability. In general, the Consultative Body considered that the sustainability of the project was closely related to its feasibility and therefore in a number of cases could only conclude that criterion A.4 was not satisfied, because it had also decided that criterion A.3 was not satisfied. As in 2011, the Consultative Body wished to remind States Parties that knowledge transfer needs to be built into every project so that the activities can be sustained once the international assistance funds are depleted. The Consultative Body noted with concern a tendency to plan to use the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund to finance a number of operating costs to be covered after the end of the project, if it is to have a chance of being sustainable without providing any information on the mechanisms that would continue functioning after the implementation of the project or on possible financial and technical contributions that could be mobilized to sustain it. For two requests, the requesting State Party appeared to have charged an NGO to prepare the request and implement the project and the involvement of the State seemed inadequate, which was likely to undermine the sustainability of the project. However, it also wished to underline that sustainability cannot be guaranteed solely by the State Party’s commitment but required the involvement and commitment of all parties concerned, particularly beneficiary communities.
With regard to the involvement of communities, groups or individuals, the Rapporteur remarked that that there was often insufficient community involvement, as noted in the Consultative Body’s report (Document ITH/12/7.COM/7). States Parties should recall that criterion A.1 includes two requirements: that ‘the community, group and/or individuals concerned participated in the preparation of the request’ and that they ‘will be involved in the implementation of the proposed activities, and in their evaluation and follow-up as broadly as possible’. In general, requesting States tended to neglect the first requirement; communities are at best consulted on a programme already developed, but they are seldom involved in its design and planning and in some cases they are only identified much later once the funds are approved. Faced with the high number of projects in which the identification of the communities concerned was considered a first step of the project, the Consultative Body considered that it was not possible for States Parties to demonstrate community involvement without first identifying the communities concerned by the request. Additionally, it was mindful that introducing a financial dimension to activities that were traditionally not performed for money might have more negative effects than benefits. The Consultative Body also noted that in a number of requests financial compensation was foreseen for a large number of parties involved in the implementation of the project, but the communities themselves were sometimes excluded.
With regard to capacity-building, a requirement of A.6, the Rapporteur reported that too often the capacity-building included in the requests were aimed at institutions or government bodies while overlooking the communities. In this regard, States Parties should demonstrate how the activities proposed might contribute concretely to building capacities of all parties involved and specifically in ensuring the viability of intangible cultural heritage. As with the question of sustainability, the Consultative Body did not base its evaluation exclusively on the information provided within the section but evaluated the potential of the proposed activities as revealed elsewhere in the request. With regard to the budget, the Rapporteur remarked that it was a weak point in almost all the requests evaluated in that often they did not provide sufficient detail or were not precise enough to justify the amounts requested. The Consultative Body wished to reiterate the crucial importance of preparing budgets in a rigorous and transparent way and ensuring a clear and legible correspondence between activities, budget and timetable. As in its 2011 report, the Consultative Body noted that States often neglected to quantify their contribution, especially their in-kind contribution, particularly as paragraph 8 of the Operational Directives states that, ‘international assistance provided to States Parties for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is supplementary to national efforts for safeguarding’. Therefore giving due attention to describing States Parties’ expected in-kind services was proof of their commitment and awareness of the national resources that will need to be invested throughout the project, and even after the international assistance is granted. The Consultative Body also drew the Committee’s attention to the tendency of a number of requests to allocate the largest part of the budget to the implementing organization (for human resources, equipment or both) while often neglecting the communities concerned. Such imbalances may jeopardize not only the feasibility of the project but also its sustainability, since the continuity of the implementing organization would depend on the international assistance.
With regard to inventory-making, the Rapporteur reported that most of the requests were intended to support national or sub-national inventories of intangible cultural heritage. This focus reflects the commitment of States Parties to implement the 2003 Convention, starting with their first obligation to ‘identify and define the various elements of the intangible cultural heritage present in [their] territory, with the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organizations’ (Article 11(b)). The Consultative Body adopted a practical position regarding the participation of communities in the preparation of requests for financing inventorying (criterion A.1). It considered that it was reasonable that such requests come directly from government agencies without community involvement at this early stage. It nevertheless deemed it essential that communities be fully involved in the inventory-making and not simply as informants, and that the requests describe in detail the basis on which beneficiary communities would be selected, as well as the mechanisms for ensuring their widest possible participation. A number of requests did not seem to conceive documentation as a safeguarding measure but saw it rather as a means to build or expand an archive. States Parties are reminded that the aim of recording and documentation as stipulated in Article 2.3 of the Convention should be to ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage concerned and be complemented by other appropriate safeguarding measures, particularly through formal and non-formal education. In some cases, this misunderstanding could have been avoided if requests had provided more information on the methodologies of fieldwork or data collection and treatment. It also regretted seeing little or no information on how the collected information and knowledge would be returned and made available to the communities involved in the inventory-making.
The Chairperson thanked the Rapporteur for her helpful overview, announcing that the present session would be extended until 8.30 p.m. The Chairperson remarked on the difficulties experienced by the Consultative Body in properly evaluating the requests, as many of them were too general and not sufficiently detailed. It was also highlighted that a favourable decision would lead to the establishment of a contractual relationship between UNESCO and the implementing body. The contract must therefore strictly reflect the scope of work proposed in the approved request, as the Secretariat had a very small margin of manoeuvre for altering terms. The Chairperson explained that item 10 would follow the same procedure as previously adopted, taking each request in turn followed by a general discussion. In an effort to save time, it was decided to move directly to the international assistance requests and open the floor to general comments at the end of the session.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the first request for international assistance for the Inventory and promotion of intangible cultural heritage in Burkina Faso [draft decision 7.COM 10.1] submitted by Burkina Faso. This project involves the establishment of an inventory on the elements of intangible cultural heritage generated by the ethno-cultural communities in Burkina Faso so as to identify their state of viability and ensure their promotion. Its objectives are to develop a national strategy for inventorying and promoting intangible cultural heritage; to educate communities, policy-makers and the public about the importance of intangible cultural heritage; to build stakeholder capacity in the safeguarding of such heritage; to make an inventory of intangible cultural heritage elements in the field; and to disseminate the results at national and international levels. The Consultative Body found that the submitting State had elaborated an ambitious inventorying project and proposed a clear and well-structured sequence of activities. It also appreciated the very clear manner in which the State expressed the need to establish inventories as a preliminary step in any safeguarding plan. Despite some minor errors the budget was very detailed and clearly corresponded well with all the proposed activities. Moreover, it was described as one of the best budget presentations in the present cycle. Finally, the Consultative Body recognized the efforts to strengthen the capacities of the teams leading the project, but wished to recall that communities are at the centre of the programme and consequently their involvement deserves compensation and encouragement, as expressed in paragraph 5 of the draft decision. For these reasons, the Consultative Body recommended to approve the request for international assistance.
With no comments or objections, the Chairperson moved to the decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.1 to approve international assistance in the amount of US$262,080 for the Inventoryand promotion of intangible cultural heritage in Burkina Faso.
The delegation of Burkina Faso stated that the international assistance would enable the country to undertake the process of inventorying its intangible cultural heritage in order to implement safeguarding measures. It affirmed that the project had been elaborated with the full participation of the communities in conformity with Art. 11 and Art. 12 of the Convention, whose work would continue in the implementation of the safeguarding measures as well as updates of the inventory. The delegation took the opportunity to thank the Consultative Body for its work and the Secretariat, in particular whose letter requesting additional information had helped in improving the application request.
The Chairperson thanked Burkina Faso for its request.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Inventory of intangible cultural heritage in the Central African Republic [draft decision 7.COM 10.2] submitted by the Central African Republic. The heritage of the Central African Republic is endangered because of the loss of knowledge, know-how and skills due to the disappearance and neglect of the bearers in the communities concerned. As a consequence, the Central African Republic has undertaken a pre-inventory to identify and list the representative expressions and elements. The full implementation of this inventory project at the national level would involve the creation of a database, the identification of the threats, the determination of actions to revitalize the elements, and the dissemination of the results. The Consultative Body found that the submitting State had sufficiently demonstrated that the communities and their leaders had participated in the preparatory activities in this request, while recognizing the need to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage. It also agreed that the process of preparing an inventory as proposed was likely to strengthen the capacity of the different stakeholders involved in the project such as heritage experts and the bearers of intangible cultural heritage. However, despite these positive impressions, the Consultative Body could not favourably recommend the request for three main reasons. Firstly, the Consultative Body identified significant calculation errors in the budget, noting in particular that a number of proposed activities were not reflected in the budget. It therefore concluded that criterion A.2 was not met. Secondly, the activities were insufficiently detailed, including work on the methodologies for collecting and treating field data, as well as how the communities involved in the project inventory would be selected. This lack of information combined with confusion between the project objectives and the means of attaining the objectives through the activities affected the intelligibility of the project and therefore the Consultative Body’s ability to assess its feasibility, as required by A.3. The Consultative Body regretted the insufficient coordination of all the actors involved, as well as a lack of rigour in the presentation of the request. Finally, it noted that the amount requested did not seem appropriate nor sufficiently demonstrate the project’s feasibility, making it difficult to positively conclude on its sustainability, as required in criterion A.4. This feeling was reinforced by the fact that the project depended almost entirely on funding from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund with an extremely modest contribution by the government. Moreover, the State did not demonstrate how it would pursue the work of the inventory beyond the project period and thus its longer term safeguarding, as the specific detailed costs were neither identified from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund nor earmarked from government sources, including any in-kind contributions. The Consultative Body therefore concluded that despite the project’s merits and relevance, it could not recommend the approval of the present request. However, it incorporated several paragraphs in the draft decision that it hoped would guide the State Party in its revised application.
With no comments or objections, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.2 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$170,000 for the Inventory of intangible cultural heritage in the Central African Republic.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of Guatemala [draft decision 7.COM 10.3] submitted by Guatemala. This project aims to initiate inventories in six municipalities of Guatemala and to build capacities at different levels including community, municipal and institutional human resources, which would be undertaken by national institutions for cultural promotion, local authorities and associations as well as university students. The principal activities include fieldwork for the collection and the validation of data, and the creation of an electronic database as well as a series of coordination and capacity-building workshops. The Consultative Body welcomed the commitment by the government to share almost one-third of the costs of the activities for which assistance was requested. It also appreciated the State’s willingness to strengthen the capacity of a wide range of stakeholders through the implementation of the project – from communities to national and municipal institutions in the field of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. However, the Consultative Body encountered a major problem concerning the identification of the target communities, especially the description of their involvement in the implementation and follow-up of the project, as required by A.1. It considered that it was reasonable for requests concerning the preparation of inventories to come directly from government bodies without the participation of communities at this preliminary stage. Nevertheless, it is essential that applications describe in detail the basis on which the beneficiary communities would be selected, as well as the mechanisms ensuring the widest possible participation. In this case, the information had not been provided and, in particular, there seemed to be some confusion between the students involved in the inventory exercise and the communities with whom they were supposed to interact. With regard to the appropriateness of the amount requested (criterion A.2), the Consultative Body was unable to conclude positively. Although the budget appeared to be clearly presented, it did not completely correspond to the proposed activities. In addition, there were significant imbalances among the expenditure items, which were not sufficient explained. Other major problems arose. For example, the purpose of the request did not correspond to the stated objectives. Moreover, it appeared to be a pilot project to be tested in six municipalities before being extended nationwide, though it remained unclear whether this was indeed a project for a national inventory or simply a step towards a national inventory. Therefore it was difficult to conclude that the proposed activities were well conceived and feasible and that the project would have lasting results, as required by criteria A.3 and A.4. With regard to the sustainability of the project and its potential multiplier effects, the Consultative Body considered that the information collected during the project could lay the groundwork for a future inventory, though it was difficult to go beyond mere conjecture, as there was insufficient information about the proposed activities. Given the problems of coherence, it concluded that it could not give a positive recommendation and added paragraphs 5 and 6 to the draft decision to serve as guidance.
The Chairperson thanked the Consultative Body for its constructive approach in its addition of paragraphs to the draft decisions that would help States Parties improve their application requests.
The delegation of Brazil described the project as interesting, adding that it could be improved in a second or third phase in terms of extending the national inventory, although the project appeared to initially focus on six municipalities. The delegation sought clarification from Guatemala of the communities involved in the project, surmising that it might be an official mapping of the different communities because it was difficult to pinpoint all of the communities at this stage, or so that it would be better able to identify the communities so that the project could be better rolled out.
The delegation of Guatemala explained that the project was one phase of the inventory process that would allow for implementation across the country in line with its socio-cultural diversity, and thus help draw lessons to better design a fully-fledged project. The six municipalities covered the four different areas of the country, comprising five different ethnic communities in which different working methods would be applied. The delegation further explained that this was not a new initiative but was in fact a second step in which the methodological groundwork would be carried out fully with the communities, adding that the university students would solely provide the technical assistance. The delegation outlined the importance of bringing together the different ethnic groups, as racism and discrimination were rife in parts of the country.
The Chairperson thanked Guatemala for its clear explanations, and with no further comments, moved to the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.3 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$48,828 for the Inventory of the intangible cultural heritage of Guatemala.
The delegation of Guatemala assured the Committee that it would continue to work on the technical elements, but it did not agree with the decision taken.
The delegation of Brazil regretted that the project was still not aligned with the Operational Directives and offered assistance to Guatemala to help draft a new application request. The Chairperson thanked Brazil for its constructive suggestion.
The delegation of Peru also offered technical assistance to Guatemala through the work of CRESPIAL, the regional category 2 centre. The Chairperson thanked Peru for its offer of assistance.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Support for safeguarding and disseminating the skills of weaving wild silk in Madagascar [draft decision 7.COM 10.4] submitted by Madagascar, noting that it was the first application request not linked to an inventory. To ensure the safeguarding and transmission of the traditional skills of weaving wild silk, this project aims to strengthen the management system for the Tapia Forest and enhance the wild silk industry. The project would establish a legal and regulatory framework for safeguarding of the forest resources, and would raise awareness on the heritage through educational kits and an itinerant exhibition, as well as building capacity among local communities to design and market their products by setting up a funding mechanism. The Consultative Body welcomed the request that highlighted the potential of intangible cultural heritage to contribute effectively to the sustainable development of communities, particularly natural resources management. However, it had difficulty understanding how the project, as presented, corresponded to the objectives of international assistance. Echoing the remarks by the Rapporteur, there appeared to be some confusion between the objectives of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund and the International Fund for Cultural Diversity established by the 2005 Convention. Moreover, on a number of occasions, it had the impression that the proposed capacity-building did not sufficiently focus on the weavers and their know-how, but rather the commercial interests for which the bearers were not necessarily beneficiaries. In addition, community participation was foreseen in the future, but there was insufficient information on how the communities were involved in the elaboration of the request or their involvement in the planning of proposed activities and the planned mechanisms of implementation, as required in A.1. The Consultative Body also felt that the budget presented was insufficiently detailed, making it difficult to determine whether the amount was adequate and reasonably aligned with the proposed activities. Furthermore, the feasibility and sustainability of the project were equally difficult to evaluate for two reasons. Firstly, the objectives were not clearly defined, while the aim of safeguarding appeared distant. Secondly, the State’s involvement appeared to be insufficient. In this case, the implementation was assigned to an NGO, while the very minor role of the State and the absence of cost sharing, whether in cash or in-kind, appeared to seriously compromise the project, as it relied almost exclusively on the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. Finally, the Consultative Body regretted that the submitting State did not respond to the request by the Secretariat for additional information. Thus, the Consultative Body recommended not to approve the request and offered guidance to the State in its re-submission of the file, as outlined in paragraphs 5–9.
The delegation of Brazil remarked that the Committee for the 2005 Convention for the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions often received requests for funds that were deemed to concern the 2003 Convention and vice-versa, resulting in a grey zone, suggesting that there was room for coordination between the two Convention secretariats. The delegation suggested that the application forms for the two funds present an explanation of the appropriateness of the fund in question.
The Chairperson thanked Brazil for its relevant remark, adding that the Secretariat would take note and would likely discuss the issue with the other secretariat to smooth out any ambiguity. With no further comments, the Chairperson moved to the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis, and declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.4 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$198,619 for Support for safeguarding and disseminating the skills of weaving wild silk in Madagascar.
The delegation of Madagascar thanked the Consultative Body for its work and for its recommendations. It spoke of its unease vis-à-vis the request since it was the NGO that had presented the project, which owing to a change of management, had failed to reply to the request for additional information. The delegation had sought to withdraw the request but was unable to do so as it had been proposed by the NGO and not the State Party.
The Chairperson thanked Madagascar for its explanation and clarification.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Inventory of Malawi’s indigenous knowledge related to climate change adaptation strategies [draft decision 7.COM 10.5] submitted by Malawi. Rural communities in Malawi have devised ingenious ways to cope with and adapt to the adverse impacts of extreme weather events that result in climate change. This project proposes to make a systematic and comprehensive national inventory of indigenous practices so as to provide information that will help formulate evidence-based and culturally appropriate climate change policies. The principal objectives are to identify and document these strategies; to record indigenous knowledge pertaining to weather forecasts; and to document the harnessing of indigenous technologies to ensure food security. The Consultative Body appreciated the initiative of Malawi to elaborate a request for a project based on a strong belief in the potential of intangible cultural heritage to meet the challenges of sustainable development related to climate change. However, as seen in the previous case, it found that the request was not sufficiently formulated in terms of the objective for which assistance would be granted. One of the major problems encountered concerned the lack of convincing evidence that the community was involved in the preparation of the request or in the planning and implementation of the proposed activities, particularly as there was no minimum identification of the communities. The Consultative Body had the impression that the approach was not sufficiently participatory, with communities being asked to accept plans already developed. Moreover, the request did not explain how the project would strengthen capacities in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, not only for the NGO in charge of the project, but also for the communities themselves. Moreover, the request had scarcely addressed safeguarding, while the inventory, although mentioned in the project title, had hardly been mentioned. As such it was difficult to determine the project’s feasibility, particularly as the budget revealed high costs for certain components and very modest for others considered essential. For example, the Consultative Body was surprised to note the considerable sum allocated to the implementing NGO, while the participating communities did not appear to receive financial compensation. Finally, the State Party’s financial management and monitoring was described as non-existent, raising serious doubts on the sustainability of the project. Although the Consultative Body was sensitive to the merits of the request, it concluded that it was unable to recommend its approval. However, it provided constructive guidance for possible resubmission by adding paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 for the Committee’s consideration.
Despite some concerns, the Chairperson remarked on the interesting features of the request, then turned to the draft decision. There was no change to paragraphs 1–8, which were duly adopted. Thus, the Vice-Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.5 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$225,650 for Inventory of Malawi’s indigenous knowledge related to climate change adaptation strategies.
The delegation of Morocco wondered if the notion of ‘climate change’ as expressed in this nomination was linked to the modern situation associated with pollution and other phenomena, or was linked to the more ancient phenomena of successive seasons where the transmission of intangible cultural heritage was aimed at adapting to the natural environment.
The delegation of Malawi thanked the Consultative Body, the Subsidiary Body and the Secretariat for their work, as well as the Bureau for approving a financial request for less than US$25,000 submitted by Malawi. Nevertheless, the delegation wished to underscore the importance of the present request that sought to help vulnerable groups such as women and children who were often victims of climate change through floods and droughts, which had calamitous effects of agriculture – the mainstay of Malawi’s economy. This was particularly notable as the communities themselves possessed the indigenous knowledge to mitigate such adverse impacts for which the project sought to record. The delegation explained that the request had been submitted prior to the implementation of the capacity-building programme, and it took the opportunity to thank the Flanders Fund-in-Trust that supported activities in the region, from which it would benefit in the re-submission of its file.
The Chairperson hoped that Malawi’s revision of the request would result in an approval by the Committee at its next session.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Safeguarding the intangible traditions of Kwagh-Hir (Tiv puppetry theatre) in Nigeria through comprehensive documentation [draft decision 7.COM 10.6] submitted by Nigeria. Kwagh-hir is a form of puppetry theatre traditionally performed in Tiv communities in the state of Benue, Nigeria. It provides secular entertainment, education and socialization through the enactment of past and contemporary events by performers using puppets and masquerades. The aim of the project is therefore to safeguard and reinvigorate Kwagh-hir, and in so doing help to revive intergenerational transmission of the folk arts of the Tiv people, including Tiv craftsmanship and intellectual traditions, preserve and promote the lexicon and grammar of the Tiv language, and reinforce the cultural identity of Tiv people. The Consultative Body was unable to recommend the request for several reasons. Firstly, the participation of the community and bearers in the elaboration of the request was not demonstrated nor was their participation in the planning and implementation of the proposed activities. Similarly, the request did not appear to focus on the willingness to strengthen the safeguarding capacities of the communities nor the design of the activities, since the planned measures, such as compensation to the practitioners or audiovisual archives, seemed sporadic with limited ability to produce lasting effects. Additionally, the proposed budget was not in balance with the proposed activities, and there was a lack of detail in the estimated costs. Moreover, the lack of distinction between the costs to be borne by the State and those covered by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund had not enabled the Consultative Body to decide whether the amount requested was appropriate. It was also unable to positively conclude on the merits of the proposed activities owing to a lack of information on the element itself (the Kwagh-Hir), the context in which it is practiced, and its sustainability. In addition to these shortcomings, the lack of community participation was a subject of concern. The Consultative Body therefore concluded that it could not recommend the request’s approval. Nevertheless, in order to provide constructive guidance for possible resubmission, it added paragraphs 4–6 for the Committee’s consideration.
The Chairperson then turned to the draft decision. There was no change to paragraphs 1–6, which were duly adopted. Thus, the Vice-Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.6 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$95,000 for the Safeguarding the intangible traditions of Kwagh-Hir (Tiv puppetry theatre) in Nigeria through comprehensive documentation.
Due to a pressing engagement, the delegation of Nigeria was unable to respond, requesting permission to do so in a later session. The Chairperson agreed.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Safeguarding of intangible heritage of Pakistan’s Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Province [draft decision 7.COM 10.7] submitted by Pakistan. This project aims to safeguard and revive performing arts in the province of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa in the northwest of Pakistan. Key activities planned include the production and dissemination of audio-visual materials, the organization of large concerts in major cities, the creation of annual music and drama competitions among schools to raise awareness about the importance of this intangible cultural heritage, to encourage 40 talented performers in need with financial assistance, and the organization of training for cultural officers. The Consultative Body was sensitive to the difficult living conditions of the bearers, whose safeguard was the focus of the request. However, it noted that the activities proposed did not sufficiently take this difficult context into consideration and therefore did not seem to effectively contribute towards building capacity among the bearers in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage. In addition, although the request referred to NGOs working in the field of performing arts, the file did not provide sufficient evidence that the community concerned participated in the preparation of the request. Indeed, the request seemed to envisage the community as a beneficiary of the request and not as an active agent in the development and evaluation of the activities proposed. Although the budget was clearly structured and corresponded to the proposed activities, the Consultative Body concluded that the request was not well conceived and feasible for two main reasons. Firstly, it was cited that the project’s feasibility depended on such factors as the return of expatriate artists to their hometowns and the fight against fundamentalism, which went well beyond the scope and possibilities of the safeguarding project. Secondly, there was insufficient identification of the intangible cultural heritage and its viability. The sustainability of the project was also called into question, especially as the proposed activities such as concerts and competitions were infrequent and would not adequately contribute towards a broader process to consolidate peace, considered a necessary prerequisite in the long term. The Consultative Body therefore concluded that despite the project’s merits, it could not recommend the request’s approval. Nevertheless, in order to provide constructive guidance for possible resubmission, it added paragraphs 6 and 7 for the Committee’s consideration.
The delegation of Uruguay thanked the Consultative Body for the high quality of its work. Sensitive to performing arts and the freedom of expression that it evokes, the delegation sought clarification from Pakistan on the concerns identified.
The Chairperson thanked Uruguay for the opportunity to allow Pakistan to provide clarity, however, the delegation was unfortunately absent and therefore unable to respond. The Chairperson thus turned to the draft decision. There was no change to paragraphs 1–7, which were duly adopted. Thus, the Vice-Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.7 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$48,000 for the Safeguarding of intangible heritage of Pakistan’s Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Province.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the next request for international assistance for the Inventory of traditional musics in Senegal [draft decision 7.COM 10.8] submitted by Senegal. The traditional music of Senegal encompasses a vast and diverse array of musical traditions, genres, instruments and associated craftsmanship. However, large parts of Senegal’s musical heritage are very poorly documented and may disappear. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of the communities concerned to carry out a preventative safeguarding inventory within the framework of a safeguarding strategy that intends to preserve and enhance this heritage, and help to reinvigorate the chain of transmission. This includes the management of a database that will provide important sources for research, education and the promotion of traditional music. The Consultative Body was unanimously satisfied with the way the budget was presented in the detailed itemization that clearly corresponded with the activities proposed, as well as their design and feasibility. Indeed, the Consultative Body considered that the series of main activities – the backbone of the request – was generally well conceived with the six components following a logical order and demonstrating decisive community participation, notably through the establishment of on local management committees. The Consultative Body was therefore pleased to approve the request, but nevertheless had two general recommendations for the implementation of the project. Firstly, it wished to recall that the approval of assistance was not an end in itself, and suggested that the State Party consider the project as part of a process of sustained long-term safeguarding through the development of policies and the strengthening of institutions and the involvement of communities in the safeguarding measures. Secondly, it encouraged the State Party to further reflect on the safeguarding of traditional music by involving competent bodies, and to be particularly attentive to the information collected and processed on behalf of the communities within their territories. The Consultative Body therefore considered these two aspects to be fundamental in the future use of the inventory as they contributed effectively to the safeguard and revitalization of musical expressions.
Noting the positive recommendation, the Chairperson turned to the draft decision. With no changes to paragraphs 1–7, the Vice-Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.8 to approve international assistance in the amount of US$80,789 for the Inventory of traditional musics in Senegal.
Noting the absence of Senegal, the Chairperson of the Consultative Body moved to the final request for international assistance for the Documentation and inventory of intangible cultural heritage in the Republic of Sudan [draft decision 7.COM 10.9] submitted by the Republic of Sudan. The intangible cultural heritage of Sudan comprises elements of Nubian, Christian and Islamic civilizations, all of which are reflected in the various cultural forms and expressions performed by different communities during certain festivals, celebrations and occasions. This project proposes to build on this work to compile detailed, itemized and comprehensive lists of cultural forms, genres and activities pertaining to intangible culture in all parts of the country. This inventory would create a sense of awareness among local communities of the importance and value of their cultural heritage. The Consultative Body welcomed the commitment and determination by Sudan to carry out a national inventory of intangible cultural heritage and to invest in training and capacity-building throughout the process. It recognized the planning of training and awareness activities by inviting a wide range of institutional and community actors in project implementation. It also noted the involvement of Sudan in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage present in its territory through international assistance for a project involving the digitization of archives of traditional music. However, the Consultative Body noted that the participation of the communities had not been sufficiently demonstrated neither in the elaboration of the request nor in the implementation of the proposed activities. Other concerns included the numerous inaccuracies in the calculation of the budget. Moreover, the submitting State did not provide details on its financial contribution nor on the use of the funds. The absence of correlation between the activities listed in the budget and those included in the project’s implementation strategy also led to the conclusion that, as presented, the activities were not well designed. Greater consistency between the objectives, results and activities was therefore necessary to ensure the project’s coherency. In addition, it was hoped that the inventory’s methodology would have described the proposed activities and the roles and actors involved in the process in more detail. Given the budget concerns and the disparities between the activities and expected results, the Consultative Body felt that the potential impacts specified in the request were not sufficiently justified. Thus, it encouraged Sudan to resubmit a carefully revised budget and to consider the systematic participation of the bearer communities.
The delegation of Uruguay spoke of the relevance of the remarks made by the Consultative Body, and sought greater clarification from Sudan in view of promoting peace and national unity and the role of performance art in this regard.
The delegation of Sudan disagreed with the remarks concerning the lack of community participation, adding that 15 states nationwide would take part in the project, which included government officials (members of the communities), NGOs and tradition bearers. The delegation added that the local community was involved in the drafting of proposals, when usually this was not the case. However, it conceded that the type of contribution by the government had not been clearly stated, and that despite a reference to financial assistance given to one university it could not substitute a nationwide initiative. The delegation also admitted that there were discrepancies in some of the figures, but that these could be corrected. With regard to the responsible NGO, the delegation assured that the request had come from the government, adding that the country’s culture was in a volatile situation and endangered such that a lot of assistance was required.
Thanking Sudan for its explanation, the Chairperson wished to remind the Committee that submitting States could only respond to specific questions, before turning to the draft decision. There was no change to paragraphs 1 and 2, which were duly adopted.
In light of the explanation and despite the noted concerns, the delegation of Uruguay sought to reconsider and revise the Consultative Body’s recommendation given the urgency of the situation and thus approve the project, particularly with peace and unity under threat.
The Chairperson of the Consultative Body remarked that Sudan had spoken of a multinational file when the application was a national request, even though it involved several States. The Chairperson agreed that all threatened intangible heritage required wide support but that real threats had to be expressed through appropriate measures and budgets or efforts would be in vain. The Chairperson drew attention to the fact that Sudan had mentioned under section 5 that this was not a non-emergency request, adding that an emergency request could have been made instead. Furthermore, approval of the request would be improper and would not set a good precedent, as there were justified concerns about the project’s effectiveness, which would jeopardize the objective of safeguarding.
With no further comments, the Chairperson turned to the draft decision. There was no change to paragraphs 3–7, which were duly adopted. Thus, the Chairperson declared adopted Decision 7.COM 10.9 not to approve international assistance in the amount of US$200,000 for the Documentation and inventory of intangible cultural heritage in the Republic of Sudan.
[The Chairperson reprised his role]
Thanking the Committee for its commitment, the Chairperson duly adjourned the session.