27.04.2016 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Guinea-Bissau Joins the International Community for the Protection of its Heritage

@Lucas Roque

“Saudade”, the government of Guinea-Bissau ratified the 2001 Convention for Underwater Cultural Heritage as well as the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

“The Ratification of these Conventions is a very important step in safeguarding our heritage” Says Joao Cornélio, Director of Heritage in Guinea-Bissau. This country rich in cultural heritage, offering incredible biodiversity stretching over thousands of kilometers of coast is determined to safeguard, protect and promote this richness. These two new ratifications will complement the legal framework for strengthening the sustainability of its tangible and intangible heritage. Indeed, in 2006, the country has already ratified the 1972 Convention concerning the protection of World Heritage including the Biosphere Reserve of the Bijagos islands in its tentative list.

“This new commitment allows the country to valorize its heritage more in all its forms at national and international levels. Moreover, assigning this concrete legal framework will reinforce the country’s efforts to protect and safeguard its heritage for future generations”. Highlighted Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of the Regional office of UNESCO in Dakar.

Advantages of ratification

All the UNESCO Conventions on the protection of cultural heritage offer main advantages and benefits to their States Parties including:

  • Ensure the preservation of cultural heritage in order to assert its value, enable its scientific knowledge and allow for public access;
  • Encourage and orient cultural and tourism industries that respect cultural heritage and provide a source of resources and employment;
  • Contribute to the sustainable economic development of the country or region from the cultural point of view;
  • Strengthen both national identity, open-mindedness and respect for cultural diversity, a precious equilibrium in the face of contemporary "globalization";
  • Ensure social and cultural continuity between past, present and future generations;
  • Benefit from a mutual commitment of States Parties through which international cooperation, assistance and exchange of experiences are a reality.

The 2001 Convention offers the following opportunities:

  • Protection of underwater cultural heritage is of the same importance as protection of cultural landscapes;
  • Member States benefit from the cooperation of other Member States: Member States engage also in being cooperative and provide mutual assistance in order to protect and manage underwater cultural heritage and exchange as possible the relevant information.
  • The 2001 Convention help in avoiding heritage lootings.
  • It provides practical guidelines for the research of underwater cultural heritage. Frequently asked questions on 2001 Convention

The 2003 Convention for ICH will henceforth, allow Guinea Bissau to benefit from funding through UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.

The Member States can submit a request for International Assistance.

Similarly to Guinea-Bissau, other Member States have participated in capacity building programs regarding ICH safeguarding, particularly through the project dedicated to the five Portuguese speaking African countries, financed by the voluntary contribution from Norway to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund.

More information about ICH is available here.

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