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.
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.
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).
The reflection process continued 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 (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 13 to 18 December 2021) provided an opportunity to engage in further intergovernmental discussions on this topic. It endorsed a set of draft amendments to the Operational Directives for the implementation of the Convention, which will be submitted to the ninth session of the General Assembly in July 2022.
The Committee also extended the mandate of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group in order to discuss and conclude on other issues raised by the Committee and the working group during a Part III meeting in early 2022 (Decision 16.COM 14). Should the recommendations of this meeting result in further potential amendments of the Operational Directives, the Committee decided that an extraordinary session of the Committee be organized prior to the ninth session of the General Assembly in July 2022.
|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
|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
|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 2021
|Launch of the online survey for experts
|11 April 2021
|Deadline for experts to submit the survey
|23 April 2021
|Online publication of the working documents for the expert meeting
|7 May 2021
|Part I of the online plenary meeting of experts and creation of breakout groups
|8 to 25 May 2021
|Online 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
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris
|Sixteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee
Item 14: Reflection on the listing mechanisms of the Convention and proposal for related revisions to the Operational Directives
|25 and 26 April 2022
|Meeting of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group (Part III)
|1 July 2022
|Fifth extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee (online)
|5 to 7 July 2022
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris
|Ninth session of the General Assembly