27.07.2018 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

National stakeholders in Somalia consider the benefits of ratification of UNESCO Conventions in the field of culture

Participants in the Somali national workshop on the benefits of ratification of UNESCO Conventions in the field of culture ©UNESCO/Karalyn Monteil

As the last African Member State of UNESCO remaining to ratify the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Somalia’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education mobilized national stakeholders for a one-day workshop in order to raise awareness of how UNESCO’s portfolio of culture conventions can contribute to peacebuilding and sustainable development in Somalia

Twenty national stakeholders, including representatives of ministries, directors of cultural institutions and national experts and advisors, participated in the workshop on 26 July 2018 in Mogadishu, which was organized by the International Committee for the Development of the People (CISP) Regional Office for East Africa in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education, the Somalia Academy of Science and Arts and UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, in order to respond to the lack of legal and policy frameworks for the sustainable governance of culture in Somalia.

The workshop was opened by the Chairman of the Somali Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Somali Federal Republi, Mr. Abdulkadir Nur Hussein, who encouraged Somalia’s ratification of UNESCO Conventions and also asked for UNESCO immediate support in awareness raising of the importance of protecting cultural heritage among the general public in Somalia, expert missions to assess conservation needs of historical sites, and signage and border fencing of cultural sites.

The workshop aimed to address some of the main challenges for the development of the Culture Sector in Somalia, which were identified by the UNESCO-EU Scoping Study on the Culture Sector in Somalia, notably the lack of legal and policy frameworks. Other challenges identified by the Scoping Study in 2013, which are still relevant today, include: lack of infrastructure, financial resources, human resources and weak institutions; loss of cultural, tangible and intangible heritage due to looting and civil conflict; absence of conservation practices, including lost memory related to culture and traditional practices; imposition of foreign cultural practices and intolerant/extreme attitudes; and inadequate awareness on the part of government and communities regarding the value of promoting cultural policies and activities.

The workshop was also part of a European-Union (EU)-funded Project entitled “Promoting a Culture of Inclusion in Somalia” that UNESCO is collaborating on with CISP as well as part of UNESCO’s on-going advocacy efforts for ratification of UNESCO Culture Conventions by Somalia.

UNESCO’s presentation at the workshop featured introductions to the following normative instruments:

1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict
- First Protocol, 1954
- Second Protocol, 1999

1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property

1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

2003 Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

During the workshop, UNESCO also recalled Recommendations of the Scoping Study, which include : supporting Somali authorities for the creation of unified policy-legal-regulatory frameworks; sensitizing all partners on the importance of integrating cultural heritage into the long-term national development goals; securing financial resources for cultural development; capacity building support for skilled heritage professionals ; facilitating accession to international instruments on culture; seeking coordinated cooperation and support from the international community for culture matters; and supporting the rehabilitation of key cultural institutions such as the Somalia National Museum and Somalia National Library.

As part of UNESCO’s collaboration with CISP on the EU project, three UNESCO Conventions focusing on World Heritage, Intangible Cultural Heritage and Cultural Diversity are currently being translated into Somali language and heritage education and outreach activities are planned for schools and community groups in Mogadishu and Galkayio. The project also foresees four workshops in Mogadishu to support the Somali national authorities with the process of ratification of the UNESCO Conventions in the field of culture. One of the workshops will target Somali media in order to mobilize a variety of national media to support awareness raising among the public and national authorities.


· UNESCO Culture Conventions

· Scoping Study on the Culture Sector in Somalia

· Project Fact Sheet “Promoting a Culture of Inclusion in Somalia”


· Somali Academy of Science and Arts

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