UNESCO Regional Director Rallies Gov’t to Ratify the UN Agency 1970 Convention on Cultural Property

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The head of UNESCO multisectoral regional office in Abuja, Mr. Ydo Yao speaking at the start of the two-day workshop on April 17, 2019 in Monrovia: “The ratification of this convention and the other conventions will bring lots of great benefits to Liberia.”

The head of the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office in Abuja, Nigeria, has called on the Liberian government to see reason and ratify the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the illicit trafficking in cultural property.

Mr. Ydo Yao, who spoke at the end of a two-day working workshop on the convention, said that in the absence of the convention’s ratification and implementation, Liberia is missing out on lots of help from UN agency.

“The ratification of this convention and the other conventions will bring lots of great benefits to Liberia, one of which involves the inclusion of at least one heritage site on the world heritage list, as well as the concept of fair and equitable distribution of UNESCO resources,” he said.

The 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, according to UNESCO, is one of the several conventions that have a low rate of ratification in Africa.

The convention came into being to encourage states parties to recognize that the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property require international co-operation to protect each country’s cultural property against all the associated dangers.

The 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, according to UNESCO, is one of the several conventions that have a low rate of ratification in Africa.

The convention came into being to encourage states parties to recognize that the illicit import, export, and transfer of ownership of cultural property require international co-operation to protect each country’s cultural property against all the associated dangers.

UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Officer, Mr. Ydo Yao, and participants at the workshop.

Mr. Yao added the government needs to increase its commitment to the promotion of culture, which is a cornerstone for sustainable development in all sectors by ratifying the convention on illicit cultural property and all other UNESCO conventions.

“This workshop reflects the important commitment of the government of Liberia attached to the promotion of culture, but it should go beyond that because African countries like Liberia remain one of the most vulnerable in the face of illicit trafficking of cultural property.

The UNESCO regional director explained the plundering of archaeological finds and the destruction of sites on African soil represent irreparable damage to the history of Africa and, in this sense, to the history of humanity.

Mr. Yao added that it is for this reason that UNESCO has made training and workshop for member states a priority in the fight against illicit trafficking.

“It is because of this that we want the government to take the most important step by ratifying this convention and its sister convention to strengthen the international community committed to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property worldwide,” Mr. Yao added.

In brief remarks, Darius Gweh, Director of Culture at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) assured the UNESCO multisectoral regional head that the Liberian government remains committed to ratifying this convention and its sister convention.

“The government of Liberia remains committed to ratify all of UNESCO conventions, and we are working towards that. It is just a matter of time, but we will do it. I can assure you that the government will not only ratify this convention but will develop a strong mechanism to fight the illicit trafficking of cultural property,” he said.

The just ended workshop brought together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds including academics, politicians, and security personnel.

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