GIS - 21 July 2017: In the absence or minimal presence of culture in national plans for development, and the lack of legislation and policies to protect and promote cultural heritage, there is a need to work out a roadmap for safeguarding cultural heritage in Eastern Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean Islands.
This statement was made by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, yesterday during a press conference at the Intercontinental Mauritius Resort, Balaclava, following a three-day regional conference and ministerial roundtable which opened on 18 July 2017. The objective of the conference and the roundtable was to strengthen synergies for the protection of cultural heritage in Eastern Africa and Adjacent Indian Ocean States.
The Minister emphasised the importance of the conference which according to him provided a platform for Ministers to share experiences, come up with innovative practices and policies in East Africa as well as increase capacities and strengthen joint actions for the protection of cultural heritage.As for the roundtable, he underlined that discussions between Member States focused on ways to enhance bilateral, sub- regional and regional cooperation within the scope of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), programmes.
He announced that participants from the thirteen countries agreed on the need to establish clusters to synergise and be more effective in terms of collaboration, cooperation, sharing of good practices or regional activities.
Minister Roopun stated that following recommendations of experts during the conference there is a need to establish indicators and statistics to measure progress and demonstrate the impact of culture in terms of economic and sustainable development. We should also create awareness about our cultural values and involve the private sector and the public in the protection of our tangible and intangible heritage, he added.
Moreover, he highlighted that the participants took cognisance of the deliberations and recommendations and discussed on the various conventions on culture that is the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. There is a dire need to carry out a proper inventory of our cultural heritage and to keep an update so that we can implement those conventions accordingly, he concluded.
The three-day conference enabled a clearer understanding of cultural heritage protection and the challenges faced; the benefits of ratification and implementation of international normative instruments; UNESCO programmes and resources for safeguarding cultural heritage. It also allowed the ministers to take the commitment to collaborate regionally to strengthen synergies.