2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage gains momentum
The evaluation of activities linked to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage has demonstrated the Convention’s strong impact among UNESCO’s Member States and the role of intangible cultural heritage in reinforcing policies of social inclusion and intercultural dialogue. The promotion of intangible heritage has even proved beneficial for sustainable development through the support it extends to income-generating undertakings rooted in collective living practices.
The Intergovernmental Committee of the 2003 Convention held its 8th annual meeting in Baku (Azerbaijan) from 1 to 6 December 2013, marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention. The meeting was an opportunity to introduce some far-reaching changes to the way the Convention is implemented, based on the recommendations of UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Service.
In view of the success of the Convention with States Parties, and in order to improve the work on nominations, it was decided to reduce the number of elements that can be submitted from 60 to 50 per session. This is designed to lighten the Secretariat’s workload, which was deemed unrealistic in an audit conducted by UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Service. A single evaluation body was created to replace the former subsidiary and advisory bodies. The new body will be composed of NGOs and experts representing States Parties that are not on the Committee, with fair geographic representation. This is designed to improve the quality and efficiency of the review process.
Another important improvement concerns the approval of proposals made by the Secretariat regarding the utilisation of resources from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, increasing the resources allocated to the Secretariat for capacity building (20% of the Fund). “Reinforcing capacity building is our absolute priority and our entire reform aims to improve the quality of programme execution at the service of our Member States,” the Director-General of UNESCO declared. “Improving our working methods must serve our programmes and our Member States.”
In an Evaluation published in 2013, UNESCO’s Internal Oversight Service, recalls the importance and pertinence for Member States of the 2003 Convention, notably the implementation of an extensive global programme of capacity building with a network of qualified experts. “Overall, due to its standard-setting work related to various conventions, UNESCO is widely recognized as a leader in the field of cultural heritage. Increasingly, the organization is also valued by Member States and other UN agencies for its efforts to demonstrate the links between culture and development. The work of the UNESCO 2003 Convention Secretariat is considered to be of high quality.”