The seventh session of the General Assembly of the States Party to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage will take place from 4 to 6 June 2018 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. As the sovereign body of the Convention, the General Assembly meets in an ordinary session every two years to discuss and adopt agenda items and requests from the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The seventh session of the Assembly will examine important issues and challenges for the Convention, such as the monitoring and periodic reporting mechanisms for implementing the Convention.
First of all, the long-discussed adoption of the overall results framework for the Convention is an important item on the agenda. The overall results framework has been positively regarded as a tool for diagnosing and improving the implementation progress in the States Party. However, it would take quite a while for the framework to be introduced and applied in practice. Discussions are ongoing over how the complicated framework can successfully be settled in each State Party, and additional work also remains to be done to define the baselines and targets considering country-specific environments of intangible cultural heritage.
Another major item on the agenda is the approval of amendments with regard to periodic reporting. The Operational Directives for the Implementation of the Convention mandate that a State Party submits its periodic report every six years following the year it ratified the Convention. The revision would allow States Party to submit their national report every six years from 2020 on the basis of a regional rotation. In parallel, Form ICH-10 would be aligned to the overall results framework, so it could be used for periodic reports, which is to minimize reporting burdens of the States Party. The States Party would also be able to complete periodic reports online via the UNESCO website, which is expected in the long term to enhance UNESCO’s knowledge management system and help save labor cost at the Secretariat.
The adoption of a dialogue process between the Evaluation Body and the submitting State will also be discussed by the Assembly. At its eleventh session, the Committee overturned 17 out of 24 referrals (71%) recommended by the Evaluation Body, posing an efficiency problem in the evaluation process. In response, the Evaluation Body suggested an option that would allow for provision of additional information if nomination files were found to have minor issues. As the result, at its twelfth session, the Committee reversed only 3 out of 49 referrals (7%). This encouraged the informal ad hoc working group of the Committee to discuss the methods and criteria for the efficient operation of the dialogue process. Although, the Evaluation Body has requested to extend the timing of the application of the dialogue process, and the Assembly will look into the discussion results of the working group, giving priority to the most pressing issues.
Lastly, half of the Member States of the Committee will be replaced at the Assembly. Twelve new members will be elected for a four-year term, from 2018 to 2022. The seats will be distributed in proportion to the number of States Party from each electoral group. Considering there are 177 States Party, the Secretariat will allocate the seats among electoral groups as follows: Group I (Western Europe, North America), one seat; Group II (Eastern Europe), two seats; Group III (South America, Caribbean), one seat; Group IV (Asia, Pacific), four seats; Group V(a) (Africa), three seats; and Group V(b) (Arab), one seat.
The current members of Group IV (Asia, Pacific) are Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Philippines and South Korea. Except for the Philippines, the remaining four countries will now complete their term (2013 to 2017). The provisional list of candidate Member States include Bangladesh, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Palau, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The election of members will be conducted on 6 June at the Assembly.
On 7 June following the Assembly, the sixth Annual Coordination Meeting of Category 2 Centres Active in the Field of Intangible Cultural Heritage will take place. The meeting will discuss potential areas of collaboration between Category 2 Centres and UNESCO and future directions for development.
Sangmook Park, Assistant Programme Officer, ICHCAP