UNESCO Regional Director for West Africa Ydo Yao, identifies culture as a key to development in any country, adding that any country that wants to experience rapid growth should invest in the cultural sector.
“Let me express thanks and appreciation to the Government of Liberia for attaching seriousness to the 1970 Convention on illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property; this reflects the importance that the Government of Liberia rightly attaches to the promotion of culture which is the cornerstone for sustainable development in all sector”, he says.
Mr. Yao was speaking recently at the National Museum at in Monrovia during the closure of two days awareness workshop on the 1970 Convention on illicit import, and export of cultural property.
The workshop was organized by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in collaboration with UNESCO Regional Office in Abuja, Nigeria and held under the theme, “Rectification of the 1970 Convention on the illicit trafficking of cultural property.”
The UNESCO Regional boss says the exercise is part of continuing efforts to work with Liberia in all sectors of its mandate, saying, “Since Monday I have been here working in the educational and other activities; this reflects our commitment to support Liberia in its efforts to achieve sustainable development goals.”
He notes the Africa remains one of the most vulnerable continents faced with illicit trafficking in cultural property, and African objects are very popular in the art market.
He narrates that the plundering of archeological finds and the destruction of sites on African soil are irreparable damage to the history of Africa, and in the sense to the history of humanity.
“As long as unscrupulous demand is express on the international art market, objects will be looted for sale, and for UNESCO, Africa is a priority region in organizing training in the fight against illicit trafficking.”
However, Mr. Yao expressed frustration over the number of countries that have rectified the 1970 Convention, disclosing that out of 54 African countries only 36 countries have ratified the document, stressing that rectification represents an important step in strengthening implementation of the 1970 Convention, which reflects the growing international commitment to combating illicit trafficking of cultural property worldwide.
He further observes that the international community has recognized that the illicit trafficking of cultural property contributes to the financing of terrorism, and that the fight against this scourge is therefore, imperative for international security and the maintenance of peace.
Liberia’s Deputy Information Minister for Administration, Daniel Gaydu, expresses delight over the conduct of the workshop, which he describes as timely because it will help to put the country on par with its neighbors.
Deputy Minister Gaydu reiterates government’s commitment to the rectification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Illicit Import and Export of and transferred of ownership on cultural property. “I want to register this government’s commitment to this all important document because it is a milestone in the life of this country”, he adds. By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne