Conference Raises Awareness of Cultural Property Protection in Eastern Africa
Over 50 attendees from East African countries participated in a regional online conference on the protection of cultural property on 15 July 2021, organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in collaboration with the Secretariat of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
The conference, which was organized in the framework of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols (1954 and 1999), aimed to: share national experiences in the Eastern Africa region on the protection of cultural property, promote UNESCO resources and examples of capacity building support available from the 1954 Convention Secretariat, and discuss the priority areas for support and future actions.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Anna Sidorenko, Head of Cultural Heritage Protection Treaties Unit, Culture and Emergencies, underscored the importance of the 1954 Hague Convention, which is the first international treaty adopted with a universal scope on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict and aims to preserve both movable and immovable property of national importance.
During the conference, focal points of the 1954 Convention from six East African countries – namely, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania – made presentations on their national experience in the protection of cultural property. After the country presentations, the UNESCO 1954 Convention Secretariat shared resources and examples of capacity-building support available from UNESCO, and an open discussion ensued on priority areas for support and future actions in the African region.
This conference followed the 30 June 2021 submission of National Periodic Reports on implementation of the 1954 Convention and its two protocols by the Eastern Africa countries, and provided an opportunity for them to share their experiences, challenges and lessons learned, and to strengthen synergies for the protection of cultural property in the region. It was also an opportunity for the six other East African countries that have not yet ratified the Convention to consider the benefits and learn more about capacity-building programmes and the resources available.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Lazare Eloundou, Director of UNESCO Culture and Emergencies Entity, emphasized the importance of protecting cultural property. While congratulating the Eastern Africa region for having the highest rate of submissions of national reports in Africa, he urged the State Parties to work together to safeguard immovable and movable cultural heritage. He also reiterated the importance of the reports in providing invaluable information for the study of good practice, and understanding the challenges in the region for the protection of cultural property.
For more information about the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols, please visit http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/armed-conflict-and-heritage/convention-and-protocols/1954-hague-convention/.