Expert meeting on the nature and purposes of the listing mechanisms under the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

The threefold listing system of the 2003 Convention became truly operational in 2009, with the first inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Register of selected programmes, projects and activities (or: Register of Good Safeguarding Practices). The system was understood to serve as a major tool to help sensitize national authorities and communities around the world to the diversity and the importance of living heritage, and to the need to safeguard it, as well as to mobilize international solidarity.

After a decade of implementation, a high number of complex and inter-related issues, some of them wide-ranging, have been identified by various stakeholders in relation to the three mechanisms.

Following the discussion at its twelfth session 2017 (Decision 12.COM 14), the Intergovernmental Committee decided at its thirteenth session in 2018 to launch a global reflection process on the listing mechanisms of the 2003 Convention (Decision 13.COM 10). A preliminary discussion also took place during the fourteenth session of the Committee (Decision 14.COM 10 and Decision 14.COM 14) which gave insights to directions that the reflection could take.

While the reflection is a long-term process that will take place at least until 2022 (see the provisional timeline: English|French), it begins with a meeting of experts (dates and modalities to be communicated shortly).

Some thirty experts have been identified to participate in the meeting, taking into account profiles, experience, geographical balance and gender. They will participate in a private capacity and not as representatives of any particular government or organization. Organized with financial support from the Government of Japan, the discussions by the experts are meant to lay the ground for an open-ended intergovernmental working group meeting, to be held in 2021. According to Decision 14.COM 14, the meeting is open to ‘other experts from States Parties as observers within the limitation of available space’. The request to participate may be sent to: ICHmeetings@unesco.org.

The experts are not asked to offer a unified recommendation or consensus position on any issue, but to frame as clearly as possible alternative positions and their anticipated arguments and counter‐arguments. Should there be certain issues on which a consensus emerges among the experts, such will be reported, but that is not the primary objective of the present meeting.

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