ECOWAS Commission assesses action plan on return of cultural property
The First Meeting of the Regional Committee to Monitor the Implementation of the 2019-2023 ECOWAS Action Plan on Return of Cultural Property to their countries of origin has been held in Benin.
The meeting organised by the ECOWAS Commission is to assess the roadmap of the Action Plan on the return of the cultural property to reorient implementation.
Former Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts and the Member of Parliament for Ketu South, Abla Dzifa Gomashie, represented Ghana at the meeting.
The Action Plan is a directive from the 54th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held on December 22, 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria, which had already adopted a Political Declaration on the return of African cultural property to the countries of origin.
The objective of the Plan is to contribute to the return of the cultural heritage of ECOWAS Member States to their countries of origin to reconstitute the regional cultural heritage, reinforce the synergy of action of the Region on the issue of restitution, which has become a highly political issue.
Professor Ignacio TIRADO, the Secretary-General of The International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), in a report copied to the Ghana News Agency, reminded participants that while African States rightly demanded the return of cultural property lost during the colonial era, they also had a duty to protect what was left in their countries and those that would be returned.
He said it was necessary to look back and forward in ratifying the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention.
Acting Commissioner Education, Science and Culture Department, ECOWAS, Mamadou Traore, said the implementation of the ECOWAS Plan could contribute to boosting the rich but insufficiently protected regional heritage.
“Indeed, the share of the ECOWAS Region’s heritage is only 2.85 per cent on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List and 3.65 per cent on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” he said.
Mr Traore said it was time after more than two years of adoption by the Heads of State that the implementation of the Action Plan was examined to redirect the actions or boost the implementation as a whole.
He urged the members of the Committee to utilise their experiences, networks and skills to support the implementation of the Action Plan.
Mr Traore called on them to examine the level of implementation of the Action Plan and to take up the various challenges that remained to be met to boost the process.
These challenges are mainly to validate and ensure compliance with the roadmap of the Action Plan, to provide recommendations for the efficient mobilisation of resources to finance the Action Plan and to support States in the restitution of their cultural property.
He said it was to support the negotiation strategy with the holder countries for the return of cultural property to their countries of origin and to report to the Heads of State or the Representative designated by them, on the implementation of the Action Plan.
Mr Traore commended the technical and financial partners assisting in the implementation of the project.