Africa Remains Vulnerable To Illicit Trafficking In Cultural Property –UNESCO Official

(LINA) – The Director for Culture of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Multispectral Regional office in Abuja, Nigeria  Yado Yoo, has said that Africa remains one of the most vulnerable continents amidst the illicit trafficking in cultural property.

Yoo said in Monrovia on Wednesday at the opening ceremony on the ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, that the plundering of archaeological finds and destruction of sites on the African soil are irreparable damages to the history of Africa and to the history of humanity.

According to him, only archaeological excavation carried out by professionals can make it possible to restore to them an identity to date and locate them.

“As long as unscrupulous demand is expressed on the international art market, objects will be looted for sale,” Yoo indicated.

He pointed out that organizing training in the African region to fight against illicit trafficking is a priority for UNESCO.

Yoo stated that the increase in insecurity in some regions is having a significant impact on the cultural heritage of some countries which, according to him, is making these countries more fragile.

Yoo noted that the international community has recognized that illicit tracking of cultural property contributes to the financing of terrorism, citing that the fight against this scourge is therefore imperative for international security and the maintenance of peace.

He, however, disclosed that out of the 54 countries in Africa, 36 have ratified the UNESCO convention of 1970, indicating, however, that the continent has suffered and still suffers from the loss of elements of its movable cultural heritage.

“Universal ratification of this convention is crucial for effective combating of the illicit trafficking of cultural property and ensuring its return to original owners,” Yoo stated.

“UNESCO’s Culture Convention drive the pretention, promotion and sustainable management of heritage in all its forms as a repository for knowledge,  driver of economic growth and vector for  dialogue  and reconciliation, cooperation and shared understanding taking into account its role in promoting sustainable development,” he indicated.

The UNESCO official stressed the need for the UNESCO 1970 convention to be ratified or accepted by all UNESCO members’ states, adding, “This will support the inclusion of at least one heritage site on the World Heritage list as well as the concept of fair and equitable distribution.”

The 1970 UNESCO Convention is the pioneer and most broadly ratified international convention that exists on the issue of illicit trafficking in cultural property.

It clearly states that “the export and transfer of ownership of cultural property under compulsion arising directly or indirectly from the occupation of a country by a foreign power shall be regarded as illicit.”

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