Global reflection on the listing mechanisms of the 2003 Convention

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The threefold listing system of the 2003 Convention became operational in 2009, with the first inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (hereafter, ‘the Representative List’), the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (hereafter, ‘the Urgent Safeguarding List’) and the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices (hereafter, ‘the Register’). The system succeeded in raising awareness among national authorities and communities around the world about the diversity and importance of living heritage as well as the need to safeguard it and to mobilize international solidarity. At the same time, a decade since its implementation, various stakeholders have identified many complex issues concerning the three mechanisms.

The need for an overall reflection on the intent and purpose of the listing mechanisms was clearly expressed by the Committee for the first time in 2017 when it examined a request submitted by Viet Nam to transfer an element from the Urgent Safeguarding List to the Representative List (Decision 12.COM 14). On that occasion, the Committee decided to convene an Open-ended intergovernmental working group to reflect on the procedures for the removal of an element from one List and the transfer of an element from one List to the other, the nature and purposes of the Lists and the Register established under the Convention and the relevance of the various criteria for each of these mechanisms, among other issues.

Consequently, at its thirteenth session the Intergovernmental Committee decided to launch a global reflection process on the listing mechanisms of the 2003 Convention (Decision 13.COM 10). A preliminary discussion then took place during the fourteenth session of the Committee (Decision 14.COM 10 and Decision 14.COM 14), which provided insights into the directions to be followed during the global reflection.

Reflection points

Many of the issues raised on the listing mechanisms are interlinked and cannot be considered in isolation of each other. For the purpose of the reflection process, nevertheless, the issues have been grouped into four categories: (A) overall approach to the listing mechanism; (B) issues related to the criteria of inscription; (C) issues related to the follow-up of inscribed elements and (D) methodology for the evaluation of nominations.

The global reflection on the listing mechanisms of the 2003 Convention focuses on the two Lists and the Register. For the purposes of this survey, ‘nomination’ and ‘inscription’ also refer to proposals for inclusion on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.

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Early harvest

In parallel, the global reflection has already led to a concrete outcome, known as an ‘early harvest’, concerning the inclusion of a dialogue process in the examination of nominations. This process allows for dialogue between the Evaluation Body and submitting States to clarify minor issues identified in nomination files through a simple question and answer process (Decision 13.COM 10). Based on the positive experience gained from the 2019 cycle, which included this possibility on an experimental basis, the eighth session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the 2003 Convention in September 2020 revised the Operational Directives to formalize the dialogue process (Resolution 8.GA 10).



Timetable

The reflection process continues with a consultation with experts, including a category VI expert meeting, which took place between March and May 2021 and a meeting of an open-ended intergovernmental working group in July (Part I) and September (Part II) 2021.

The sixteenth session of the Committee (Colombo, Sri Lanka, 13 to 18 December 2021) will provide an opportunity to engage in further intergovernmental discussions on this topic, and to propose relevant revisions to the Operational Directives for possible adoption by the General Assembly in June 2022.



DatesKey milestones
4 to 9 December 2017
Jeju Island, Republic of Korea
Twelfth session of the Intergovernmental Committee

Item 14: Reflection on the removal of an element from a List and the transfer of an element from one List to the other
26 November 2018 to 1 December 2018
Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius
Thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee

Item 6: Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund: Voluntary supplementary contributions and other issues

Item 10: Report of the Evaluation Body on its work in 2018
9 to 14 December 2019
Bogotá, Colombia
Fourteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee

Item 14: Reflection on the listing mechanisms of the Convention
8 to 10 September 2020
Paris, UNESCO Headquarters
Eighth session of the General Assembly of States Parties

Item 10: ‘Early harvest’: Amendments to the Operational Directives to include
a dialogue process in the evaluation of nominations

Item 11: Update on the reflection on the listing mechanisms of the Convention
14 to 19 December 2020
Online
Fifteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee

Item 9: Number of files submitted for the 2020 and 2021 cycles and
number of files that can be treated in the 2022 and 2023 cycles
26 March 2021Launch of the online survey for experts
11 April 2021Deadline for experts to submit the survey
23 April 2021Online publication of the working documents for the expert meeting
7 May 2021Part I of the online plenary meeting of experts and creation of breakout groups
8 to 25 May 2021Online breakout group sessions: Discussions on the survey results with a view to preparing experts’ recommendations
26 May 2021 Part II of the online plenary meeting of experts (Day 1): Presentations of the work of the breakout groups on preliminary recommendations
27 May 2021 Part II of the online plenary meeting of experts (Day 2): harmonization of recommendations and conclusions
25 June 2021 Online publication of the working documents for the Open-ended intergovernmental working group
8 and 9 July 2021 Meeting of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group (Part I)
9 and 10 September 2021 Meeting of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group (Part II)
15 November 2021 Online publication of the working documents for the sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee
13 to 18 December 2021
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee
June/July 2022
Paris, UNESCO Headquarters
Ninth session of the General Assembly
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