11.04.2018 - Culture Sector

National Consultation Meeting on the 1954 Hague Convention organized by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, in Fiji

© UNESCO

A national consultation meeting on the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its Protocols was organized by the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, in Nabua, Fiji, from 26-28 March 2018. The main objectives of the meeting were to foster a better understanding of the 1954 Hague Convention and its Protocols among Fijian stakeholders and to develop an Action Plan towards ratification.

The Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its First Protocol, adopted in the Hague in May 1954, are the first standard-setting instruments with a world-wide vocation focusing exclusively on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict.

Despite the recent increase in the number of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention in the Pacific, none of Pacific Island States are Parties to the 1954 Hague Convention and/or its two Protocols. Therefore, UNESCO has launched a process in promoting the Hague Convention and its two Protocols among Pacific Island States by assisting them in raising awareness, organizing stakeholder consultations and supporting the capacity development of institutions and professional organizations in the field of museums, archives, libraries, and heritage sites.

In the initial step, the first ever Regional Workshop on the Hague Convention was held in Suva in November 2016, introducing, for the first time, the Hague Convention to Pacific Island States. As for the support of civil society, the Blue Shield Pasifika (BSP) was established in April 2016 on an interim basis.

Building on the above, the Fiji Government organized a national consultation meeting on the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols in Nabua, from 26 – 28 March 2018. The objectives of this meeting were to foster a better understanding of the 1954 Hague Convention, as well as its Protocols, in terms of its benefits and obligations among Fijian stakeholders and to develop an Action Plan towards ratification. Over 30 delegates both from and outside the culture sector attended the consultation meeting, making it a wonderful forum for multi-stakeholder discussions on the above-mentioned international treaties.

The Government of Fiji was represented by Mr Collin Yabaki, Director of the Department of Heritage and Arts, Ministry of Education and by Ms Tupou Gavidi, Secretary-General of Fijian National Commission for UNESCO. Mr Sheldon Yett, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. attended the opening of the workshop.

The keynote presentations were made by Mr Etienne Clément, international lawyer specializing in cultural heritage law, and Ms Elizabeth Edwards, Secretary-General of BSP.

Then the representatives of the Department of Heritage and Arts of Fiji, the Fiji Museum, the National Archives of Fiji, the National Disaster Management Office, Fiji Customs and Revenue and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) made presentation on the different aspects of the protection of cultural property in Fiji.

Ms Gillian Hickes, Communication Officer at the Regional Delegation of the ICRC in the Pacific, presented information on the ICRC’s activities in the Pacific.

In the course of the meeting, the training office at the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), which deployed over 800 military personnel for UN Peacekeeping Operations, confirmed that they are already aware of the 1954 Hague Convention through the training on International Humanitarian Law conducted through use of the syllabus for the DPKO training produced with the support of the UN. The recently published UNESCO Military Manual was also presented to the RFMF.

At the end of the meeting, the 2018-2022 Action Plan was developed through the group exercise and plenary discussions as an outcome of the consultation. The Action Plan aims to prioritize the following activities: raising awareness on the protection of cultural property through TV, radio and social media; organizing joint community meetings with the participation of police, customs, and the RFMF; strengthening the cultural property protection in peacetime through the development of national inventories of the Fiji Museum and other important cultural institutions, and establishing channels of communication between the culture sector and police, customs and RFMF; organizing trainings on the 1954 Hague Convention; finalization of Fiji national culture policy with a component on the cultural property protection, and preparation of an information paper to the Cabinet of Ministers as first step towards ratification.

A Task Force comprised of government officials, a national consultant, and the representatives of the BSP was established to provide policy support, ensure follow up of the Action Plan, and long-term monitoring towards ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols by Fiji.




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