Participants in the National Capacity Building Workshop in Seychelles, 24 July 2019 © Johnny Volcere / Paradise Media
The Department of Culture of Seychelles, the International Council of Museums (ICOM)-Seychelles and UNESCO organized a “National workshop to strengthen capacities to fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects in Seychelles: prevention, cooperation, restitution” from 24 to 26 July 2019 in Mahe, Seychelles.
Thirty-five key national stakeholders including representatives of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Trade and other relevant ministries, the Attorney General’s Office, museum and heritage professionals, law enforcement officers (police and customs) from Seychelles participated in the national workshop in the framework of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The three-day workshop was led by international experts from UNESCO, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) as well as high level national experts from the Seychelles Department of Culture.
The workshop was opened on Wednesday 24 July 2019 by the Secretary-General of the Seychelles National Commission for UNESCO, Ms. Marie-Reine Horeau, who thanked the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa for ensuring a close collaboration with the National Commission. In her opening remarks, she announced Seychelles’ intention to develop a national legislation to strengthen protection of cultural property. The Director General of the Department of Culture, Ms. Julienne Barra, called on all participants to develop an action plan with recommendations to strengthen national capacities in Seychelles for the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.
The participants learned about the implementation procedures, tools and resources of the 1970 Convention, which was adopted by UNESCO as a means to combat the looting of archaeological sites and illicit trafficking of museum collections around the world, and works hand in hand with the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects to offer strong legal protection against illicit trafficking of cultural property.
On 26 July, the participants adopted recommendations to follow-up on the workshop, which included: updating national legislation, policies and measures for the protection of cultural property in Seychelles in line with relevant international instruments; urging accession by Seychelles to the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects as well as to the 2001 Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention and the First (1954) and Second (1999) Protocols of the 1954 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict; and developing a national inventory and database of cultural and natural property protected under the law.
“UNESCO is very pleased to support Seychelles with the organization of this workshop, which aims to ensure a clearer understanding of the obligations and responsibilities as well as the benefits of States Parties to the 1970 UNESCO Convention,” said Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.
In recent years, the increased risk of illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts brought about by war and conflict, combined with the social-economic growth of the Africa region and the rapid expansion of the international art market, in particular through internet, has created a fertile environment for the illegal trafficking of cultural artifacts originating from countries that do not have the necessary measures in place.
“This workshop successfully equipped a wide variety of key stakeholders in Seychelles with the knowledge, skills and network to fight illicit trafficking of cultural property through prevention, cooperation and restitution,” said Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Regional Advisor for Culture at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.