Stakeholders seek preservation of cultural property in Nigeria, others

Posted: August 5, 2013 in arts/culture

ecowasParticipants at the just-concluded Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Directors of Cultural Heritage and Museums have called on the ECOWAS Commission to put in place necessary mechanisms aimed at improving communication between the Regional Organizations (ECOWAS and WAMP) and Members States for a more effective coordination of cultural programmes and activities.

The recommendation followed the conclusion of deliberations, presentations and analytical work of the three working groups established for this purpose, which ended Friday, July 26, in Ouagadougou, the Burkina Faso capital.

The meeting was convened to examine and evolve important recommendations which implementation should allow preservation and promotion of cultural assets as well as related activities in West Africa.

The meeting was the result of collaboration between ECOWAS and WAMP (West African Museums Programme), based in Ouagadougou and specifically devoted to the development of private, community, public and specialized museums in the sub-region.

ECOWAS will also develop a harmonized and standardized Culture Management Information Systems (CMIS) for the ECOWAS region to promote credible information and statistical data for purposes of planning, implementation and resource mobilization in the field of culture.

It is also recommended that the organization develop and coordinate implementation of a comprehensive capacity building (institutional and personal) strategy for the region towards bridging capacity gaps in Museums and Monuments.

Advocating in its Member States for improved funding and deployment of relevant personnel for a more effective management of Museums and better control of illicit trafficking of cultural objects, is also part of the tasks given to the Community by the Meeting.

Advocacy should in particular be extended to Heads of States for the institutionalization of a funding mechanism for the spread of culture in the region.

ECOWAS should finally provide a platform for sharing information on the existing curricula in the UEMOA States for the integration of culture into education with the Anglophone and Portuguese countries of the region, in line with the Khartoum Declaration of 2006.

Regarding states, they were recommended to put the necessary mechanisms in place to improve communication between National Correspondents and their respective Directors of Heritage for a more effective coordination of cultural programs and activities.

They should also designate qualified personnel that will take custody of all issues pertaining to harmonized and standardized Culture Management Information Systems (CMIS) as a step towards bridging data gaps at national level.

Last, the fifteen ECOWAS Member States should endeavor to improve funding and deployment of relevant personnel for a more effective management of Museums and better control of illicit trafficking of cultural objects.

Opened four days ago in the capital of Burkina Faso, the meeting was attended by experts from UNESCO, the African Union, the World Heritage Fund, the West African Archaeological Association (AOAA), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS),

the School of African Heritage (EPA), the World Organization of Intellectual Property (WIPO).

In his closing remarks, the Director of Cultural Heritage of Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Chantal Nguessan, who chaired the meeting, welcomed the adoption in Ouagadougou of the four-year Action Plan (2013-2016) for the preservation and enhancement of Cultural Heritage with emphasis on training and resource mobilization.

This Action Plan broken down into concrete proposals enables ECOWAS develop an effective tool for management of cultural heritage and museums in the region, explained Nguessan, whose country is holding the presidency of the ECOWAS Commission.

“As Heritage professionals, we are ready to support ECOWAS in this task in collaboration with our National and Regional institutions,” she said again, before pleading for “greater synergy” between National Institutions and Regional Organizations responsible for Cultural Heritage.

For his part, Prof. Abdoulaye Maga, Director of Education, Culture, Science and Technology of the ECOWAS Commission, gave an assurance that the institution will consider with due attention the recommendations made by the Ouagadougou meeting in view of their application in accordance with its Community adoption process.

Secretary General of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Burkina Faso, Mr Jean-Claude Dioma, who presided over the closing ceremony of the meeting, assured that the authorities of his country will make all necessary efforts to support the recommendations and the four-year Action Plan this, from the very next meeting of the ECOWAS Ministers in charge of Culture, scheduled in 2014 in Niamey, Niger.

“I sincerely hope that this initiative of ECOWAS and WAMP has helped lay the groundwork for a better cultural and sub-regional cooperation that will enhance interstate cooperation through joint projects under the aegis of ECOWAS and WAMP, “concluded Dioma.

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