Haitian Culture Minister visits UNESCO to mobilize international community support in safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage
Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassègue, Haiti’s Minister of Culture and Communication, will chair a Preparatory Meeting for the Establishment of an International Coordination Committee (ICC) for Haitian culture at UNESCO Headquarters on Tuesday, 16 February.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, will open the meeting, which will be co-chaired by Françoise Rivière, the Organization’s Assistant Director-General for Culture. Participants - Haitian and international experts in cultural heritage preservation as well as potential donors - will take stock of the damage sustained by Haiti’s culture in the earthquake of 12 January. They will focus on tangible and intangible (living traditions and expressions) heritage, museums, archives and libraries, as well as creative industries.
Priority in the first days following the devastating earthquake had to be given to the protection of lives and urgent humanitarian actions, but UNESCO is convinced that cultural preservation must be part of any plan to rebuild Haiti, which lost much of its built heritage in the earthquake.
Participants will include representatives from Interpol, Blue Shield the World Customs Organization, the International Coujncil of Museums (ICOM), Internaitonal Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). They will help determine the most effective means for UNESCO to work with the Haitian authorities in preparing and implementing a rehabilitation programme for all forms of cultural heritage in the country. In this work it will be essential to draw on the capacities of Haiti’s cultural community, both at home and abroad.
The experts will focus both on the rehabilitation of cultural heritage and industries and on ways to prevent further damage to that heritage, notably from looting.
Once approved by the forthcoming session of UNESCO’s Executive Board (30 March – 15 April), an International Coordination Committee (ICC) will oversee the implementation of the rehabilitation programme for the safeguarding of Haiti’s cultural heritage. The ICC is expected to hold its first meeting in June this year. Similar programmes have proved effective in Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years.
The preparatory meeting of 16 of February will bring together Haitian and international experts in the fields of museums, conservation and restoration of cultural heritage, archives, libraries and manuscripts, rehabilitation of historic sites, creative industries, safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and the legal protection of cultural heritage. Representatives of UNESCO Member States, governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as potential donors will also be present.