» Interim Blue Shield Pasifika to Protect Culture
12.04.2016 - Culture Sector

Interim Blue Shield Pasifika to Protect Culture

Meeting participants (c) National Archives of Fiji

Within a month of Tropical Cyclone Winston that struck Fiji, a regional meeting organized by UNESCO took place on 5 and 6 April 2016 at the National Archives of Fiji in Suva.

It brought together representatives of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Pacifika, Pacific Island Museums Association (PIMA), Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (PARBICA) and Pacific Island Association of Libraries, Archives and Museums (PIAL) with the objective of strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction measures of heritage sites, museums, archives and collecting institutions in Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  “Our member institutions keep collections of the most unique items on Pacific cultures and peoples that cannot be found elsewhere. These collections are increasingly exposed to risks and threats triggered by climate change.” said Atarino Helieisar, President of PIAL.

UNESCO presented the Sendai Framework and the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its two Protocols (the Hague Convention) on risk management.  The Blue Shield is a special emblem of the Hague Convention, as well as the name of an international NGO addressing Disaster Risk Reduction of cultural heritage and institutions in relation to both natural and human-induced disasters. 

Cameron Auty, Secretary of the Blue Shield Australia (BSA), explained that “the Blue Shield is for culture an equivalent to the Red Cross for humanitarian assistance.  It entails that we be aware of resource levels, leverage existing capacity and set clear responsibility through a network for successful operation.”  Other international experts included Yuji Kurihara, Vice-President of the Asia-Pacific Alliance of International Council of Museums (ICOM) and Kanefusa Masuda, ICOMOS Japan and member of the Committee of Risk Preparedness (ICORP).

Preparedness, cooperation, and immediate disaster response were highlighted as key to Disaster Risk Management in the region. The participants prepared an Action Plan 2016-2022, and agreed on the establishment of an interim Blue Shield Pasifika (BSP), with a view to its formal creation at a regional Blue Shield conference planned for 2017 in Australia.

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