19.12.2016 - Culture Sector

A successful Third African Regional Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage has come to a close

The meeting was held in Maputo, Mozambique, on December 12 and 13. Members strongly reiterated their encouragement of their governments to ratify the UNESCO 2001 Convention.

The Third African Regional Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was held in Maputo, Mozambique, on 12 and 13 December 2016, jointly organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of Mozambique. Participating countries Angola, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

This meeting followed up on two previous meetings, which took place in Nigeria in 2014 and in Kenya in 2015. An Africa Regional Committee to foster the ratification and implementation of the UNESCO 2001 Convention, as well as to promote regional cooperation, had been created and was now an active stakeholder in this third regional meeting. 

The two-day meeting in Maputo took stock of the progress made in safeguarding the underwater cultural heritage of Africa, while contributing to a discussion on how to ratify and implement the UNESCO 2001 Convention drawing from national experiences.

The participants noted with satisfaction progress made from the previous meetings and made recommendations for the year to come.

Their recommendations included continuing raising awareness at the highest level of government at African Union and different regional blocks in order to acquaint political decision and policy makers with the benefits of ratifying the 2001 Convention; encouraging their governments to adopt appropriate cultural policies and to integrate the relevant aspects of the 2001 Convention into domestic laws; the creation of capacity building programmes and the establishment of a core group of trainers and trainees to receive long term sustainable training as well as to establish partnerships within the UNESCO UNITWIN network for UCH and UNESCO UCH Chairs; the use of the Annex of the 2001 Convention in drafting and permitting project activities directed at Underwater Cultural Heritage; as well as public awareness and community engagement.

The meeting was preceded by a national workshop and assessment mission in Ilha do Mozambique, where recent actions of treasure-hunters had endangered particularly precious submerged sites.

You can find the action plan of the meeting here.

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