Untitled Document

History of ICPO

The Plan of Action of Cartagena, approved at the First Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities in Cartagena de Indias, contemplates the realization of a feasibility study for the creation of an Inter-American Cultural Policy Observatory (ICPO) , within the framework of the CIC. According to the same Plan of Action, the study should consider, among other things, the following possible functions of the Observatory:

•  To facilitate the exchange of information on cultural policies and cultural diversity in the member states.

•  To gather and make available specialized information on the cultural sector.

•  To promote research and data collection on cultural policies in the member states.

•  To contribute to the design of indicators by which to measure the impact of policies in the cultural sector, including cultural
   industries, on the economic, social, and cultural life in member states, as well as indicators on cultural legislation and
   cultural rights, within the context, among others , of human rights.

•  To build effective partnerships with foundations, academic and research institutions, and other cultural observatories in the
   member states and around the world to promote the dissemination of cultural information.

•  To identify measures that would contribute to the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity in the member states.

•  To create a cultural atlas of the Americas.

Furthermore, the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Committee on Culture dictate that the Observatory will serve to:

"Provide [Ministers and Highest Authorities of Culture and the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development], on an on-going basis, with qualitative, quantitative and relevant information … in order to ensure informed and pertinent decision-making."

As outlined in the Rules of Procedure, the Observatory will be supervised by the CIC. The Unit for Social Development, Education and Culture (UDSE) of the Organization of American States, as Technical Secretariat, will assist both the CIC and the Observatory in carrying out their responsibilities.

Feasibility Study

The ICPO's feasibility study was coordinated by the UDSE and was financed by the generous support of the Department of Canadian Heritage and of the Convenio Andrés Bello. The study's terms of reference were elaborated by several Hemispheric authorities, among which the Canadian Cultural Observatory and the Colombian Ministry of Culture participated most actively.

The UDSE selected Dr. Yudhishthir Raj Isar, former director of Cultural Policies at UNESCO, to elaborate the study. Dr. Isar counted with the collaboration of an Advisory Committee that reviewed, commented on and enriched the study with subregional perspectives. This Advisory Committee was made up of cultural experts from the Hemisphere's different subregions. (See " Experts on the Advisory Committee ".)

The UDSE, Dr. Isar and the Advisory Committee met on June 27th in Washington, D.C., to analyze a first draft of the study and to exchange their comments. offer their input. The report of this meeting is available on this web page.

After incorporating their comments, suggestions and subregional perspectives discussed in the meeting and contained in documents prepared by the experts, Dr. Isar presented the final version of the study to the UDSE and later to the first meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Culture.

Presentation of the Feasibility Study at the First Meeting of the CIC

During the First Meeting of the CIC held in Mexico City on September 4 th and 5 th , 2003, Dr. Isar presented the feasibility study of the Inter-American Cultural Policy Observatory (ICPO). He began his presentation by noting that the American hemisphere is in the vanguard in this field, with its political decision to create this Observatory. He pointed out that although the region has sound infrastructure in terms of cultural information, the cultural sector is fragmented, marginalized and poorly informed, which is why the Observatory is needed. The existence of information infrastructure could give the false impression that such an Observatory would simply have to gather and organize information, but this is not possible, because the information is so varied. What is needed is a mechanism that will not only gather information but also foster international coordination in producing it.

The principal players that will use the Observatory fall within three spheres, which will have to be recognized when it comes to establishing the functions and the nature of the OIPC: the political and institutional sphere, at the decision-making level; the technical sphere; and the public impact sphere, which includes the tourism and education sectors, among others.

Dr. Isar considered that the Observatory should have the following key functions, flowing from those considered in the Plan of Action of Cartagena: 1) compiling and disseminating specialized information on the cultural sector; 2) promoting research and compiling data on cultural policies and on cultural diversity in member states; and 3) helping to design indicators for measuring the impact of policies on the cultural sector.

To accomplish these functions, the OIPC would have to: 1) serve as an information body functionally independent of the Inter-American Committee on Culture (CIC); 2) establish links with existing international initiatives and resources, and work with them; 3) guarantee the effective participation of nongovernmental players; 4) develop a network of information providers in each country; and 5) create high-impact, interactive online capacities for economic information and news.

The Study suggests three possible structural options for the Observatory:

•  An autonomous informal network (not directly managed by the CIC) - Described in the Feasibility Study as a ‘virtual

•  A ‘managed' network with a small secretarial hub - Taking the same network approach as the first option, it is meant to be
   more centralized than the previous one. This option has two variants: 1) within the OAS Secretariat and 2) autonomous, sub-
   contracted by the OAS.

•  A stand-alone entity supervised by the CIC – This is the option that is best developed in the feasibility study. In this option,
   the ICPO would have institutional headquarters along with a permanent staff.

The decision of the CIC: Drawing up a Business Plan

After listening to the results of the Observatory's Feasibility Study, the CIC decided " to draw up a business plan, taking on board the conclusions of the feasibility study, particularly the three options regarding the structure of the ICPO, and paying due attention to its funding, administrative structure, location, and operational mechanisms. In connection with this, the Technical Secretariat was asked to devise this business plan and to make it available to the member states at the CIC's online
forum ".

The Work Plan of the CIC also requested the following:

• Reviewing and completing the initial map of potential contributors to the ICPO, which appears as an appendix to the
  feasibility study.

• Drawing up a preliminary database of cultural policy profiles, in consideration of the cultural diversity of the nations of the
  hemisphere and based on the OAS's virtual map and on the work carried out by the OEI, the Andrés Bello Convention, and
  other agencies.

• Establishing an active network of users and contributors, with particular emphasis on the inclusion of cultural policy experts
  and researchers and involving those agencies that perform Observatory duties.

• Establishing an interactive portal for the Observatory, based on the information tools that already exist, such as the CIC's
  website, with technical support from the Canadian Cultural Observatory."

This website, designed by the UDSE, responds to all these mandates.

In regards to the topic of the Observatory's interactive portal, a meeting was held on March 17 th , 2004, with experts from the Canadian Cultural Observatory and led to the conclusions found in the attached document.

The Business Plan

UDSE contracted Economist Alejandro Ramos to draft this Business Plan. The first version was submitted to the Preparatory Meeting for the Second Ministerial, held on June 17-18, 2004, in Washington, D.C.

After hearing the comments and contributions of the delegations present at the Preparatory Meeting, together with the technical guidance provided by UDSE, the specialist drew up the final version of Business Plan. Chiefly, this covers the following:

• The ICPO's initial structure will be a managed network with a minimal number of personnel within the OAS Secretariat; with
  subsequent consolidation, it could evolve into an autonomous entity.

• The ICPO will comprise three mutually complementary and supporting levels: the directors' level, comprising a Managing
  Committee; the executive level, entrusted to UDSE/OAS; and a set of five regions: (1) the Mercosur countries, (2) Andean
  Community, (3) Central America, Panama, Dominican Republic, and Belize, (4) the Caribbean countries, and (5) North
  America (Mexico, Canada, and the United States). The ICPO's internet webpage will be the one that UDSE has been
  developing with suitable OAS technical personnel.

• The Business Plan sets out a one-year preoperational phase for the ICPO, which it calls Stage 1A; this is to end with its
  official creation at the second meeting of the CIC. During this phase the Managing Committee would be set up, comprising the
  officers of the CIC (chair, and first and second vice chairs) and representatives of five existing national observatories
  representing the different subregions. This Committee will receive permanent support from UDSE and will be responsible for:
  (1) drafting a constitutional statute and a set of rules of procedure for the ICPO's operations; (2) beginning overtures for
  contacts with potential sponsors (IDB, World Bank, governments of developed countries, etc.) for initial funding for the first
  year of project operations; (3) beginning to seek out, select, and hire regional staff, in consultation with the member countries;
  (4) preparing the ICPO's initial budget for the first year of operations (Stage 1B) and, in addition to the regular budget,
  considering the studies and research contracts that will be required.

• Parallel to the work of the Managing Committee, the ICPO's team will be assembled at the central and regional levels.
  Centrally (UDSE/OAS), work will continue to consolidate the ICPO webpage (the first version of which will be presented at the
  Second Ministerial), for which there will initially be two technicians: one responsible for the technical support of the webpage,
  who will help control the contents sent in by the regions, and a second one to help discussion of its contents and priorities
  and take charge of administrative and oversight tasks (selection, hiring, and technical follow-up of study contracts entered into
  by the ICPO, etc). Each subregion will have a representative, who shall keep in permanent contact with that subregion's

• The Business Plan covers the expenditure needed to meet the goals set for this first one-year phase (Stage 1A)(1). The plan is
  to set up an ICPO development fund to cover these initial expenses, made up of government contributions.

The ICPO is very important initiative at the regional level, one that requires the commitment of all the region's ministries and authorities, the support of the multilateral banks and international organizations, and the participation of civil society. After devising the feasibility study and the business plan, a firm and resolved step toward the creation of the ICPO must be taken; for this, the governments must support the creation of the ICPO's Managing Committee, earmark funds for its preoperational phase, and continue to strengthen the Observatory's webpage by submitting and consulting information.

These decisions have to be taken during the II Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities, that will take place in Mexico City on August 23 rd and 24 th , 2004.


(1)The Business Plan estimates that, for this first stage, some USD $60,000 will be needed, covering salaries for the technical support staff, development of the webpage, and a meeting of the Managing Committee. This amount does not include the $9,000 that the OAS has already contributed to subcontract this business plan and the preliminary development of the ICPO webpage .

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