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ECOWAS push to return cultural properties to their countries of origin

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Hold first meeting in Cotonou.

The first meeting of the ECOWAS Regional Monitoring Committee on the Action Plan 2019-2023 on the return of cultural properties to their countries opens in Cotonou, Benin Republic. 

The three-day meeting will close on Thursday, July 1, 2021.

While welcoming the Committee Members, Mr. Mamadou Traore, Acting Commissioner for Education, Science, and Culture of the ECOWAS Commission, whose speech was read by H.E. Blaise Diplo-Djomand, Resident Representative of ECOWAS in Benin, highlighted that out of a total number of 1,121 cultural heritages on the list of world cultural and natural heritages, the ECOWAS Region has 32.

He added that a significant number of the cultural heritage of West Africa is pre-served in Western Museums. Therefore, the approval of the Action Plan on the Return of Cultural Properties to their Countries of Origin by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government is a step in the right direction.

In his opening remarks, Hon. Jean-Michel Abimbola, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Benin, stressed that culture is the fruit of the creative genius of our ancestors and bears witness to a past that we must now approach in a constructive and uninhibited manner.

“Our relationship with history should therefore serve as a springboard for us to mark a turning point in development cooperation. Indeed, our determination for the restitution of our cultural property is the manifestation of our political will”, he added.

The ECOWAS Action Plan 2019-2023 was approved by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in December 2019, with the aim of contributing to the returning ECOWAS Member States’ cultural goods to their countries of origin, in order to reconstitute the regional cultural heritage.

The Action Plan in its implementation mechanism provides for the establishment of a Regional Committee in charge of the monitoring of the action plan. The Regional Committee includes eminent personalities from the political, diplomatic, and cultural world.

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