The conference, which took place under the theme “Africa Speaks: Fronting Restitution and Repatriation of Artefacts, Human Remains, Objects and Archives from African Countries” explored issues of restitution, return and repatriation of African cultural property held in Africa. outside the continent through presentations, exhibitions and panel discussions. UNESCO supported the participation of heritage experts and professionals from Africa and the Diaspora in the Conference.
During the opening ceremony, the President challenged universities, heritage experts and institutions to pursue “Chimurenga Chepfungwa / liberation of the spirit” informed by African cultural belief systems and identity. Emphasizing the importance of the Conference, he indicated that it is through such Pan-African forums that African thought and a vast body of knowledge are deployed to accelerate sustainable development based on heritage and propose concrete actions for the promotion of the African renaissance.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Angela Martins, Head of the Culture Division of the African Union, underlined the importance of the African Union Model Law on the Protection of Cultural Property and Heritage, which aims to guide Member States in developing and strengthening their legal frameworks. She also noted the work that the African Union is undertaking on the restitution and repatriation of cultural property, including the drafting of a position paper on restitution and a framework for action on the return of cultural property. object of illicit traffic. The Conference contributed to the African Union’s Agenda 2063, in particular its Aspiration 5 “an Africa with a strong cultural identity, a common heritage, shared values and ethics”.
“We believe that the outcome of the conference will strengthen the capacities of Member States to implement various international frameworks, including the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Import, Export and illicit transfer of ownership of cultural property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects. ” – Ms. Angela Martins
During the round table on “Dealing with legal issues: comparing the 1970 UNESCO Convention and subsequent legal elements”, the head of the Culture Unit of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa , Mr. Francisco Gomez Duran, recalled UNESCO’s role in supporting countries in the fight against illicit trafficking in African cultural property and the Organization’s efforts to promote their return and restitution. He also underlined that supporting African Member States in the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural property within the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and facilitating the return and restitution of cultural property within the framework of the Intergovernmental Committee for the return and restitution have been identified by UNESCO as one of the pillars of flagship program 3 of the Organization’s operational strategy for Priority Africa 2022-2029.
UNESCO’s work on the protection of cultural heritage and the return of stolen or illegally exported cultural property contributes to the achievement of SDG 16, and in particular target 4, which deals with the recovery and restitution of stolen assets and the fight against all forms of organized crime.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).