The resolution, co-authored by Morocco, was adopted by consensus, after tough negotiations, during the 209th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, particularly on the question of the restitution of cultural property.
The resolution provides for the launch of a flagship program to repatriate cultural heritage of African countries illicitly held in several countries around the world.
The text requests the “Director-General to allocate an adequate level of UNESCO resources and capacities for the implementation of the Global Priority Africa through an operational strategy”.
The resolution also provides for the allocation of sufficient qualified human resources in the UNESCO offices deployed on the continent, which is an essential prerequisite for the effective and efficient implementation of Global Priority Africa.
The Covid-19 crisis occupies an important place in this resolution, which requests that the Secretariat should anticipate “the inevitable effects resulting from the global health crisis” by setting up a mechanism to ensure the sustainability of priority funding for UNESCO’s program in the countries of the continent seriously affected by the crisis, foremost among which are African countries”.
The resolution also calls for assistance to African member States to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.
With regard to the preservation of Africa’s cultural and natural heritage, the resolution provides for “strengthening collaboration between the World Heritage Centre and the African World Heritage Fund”, an entity of the African Union.
In a statement before the Executive Board, at the end of this adoption, Morocco’s permanent delegate to Unesco, ambassador Samir Addahre congratulated all his African colleagues as well as the ambassadors of other continents, who “through their support, have strongly signified the necessary effort to re-conceptualize the Global Priority Africa”.
The Moroccan ambassador emphasized that the resolution is in “alignment with UNESCO’s strategy with the African Union Agenda.” He added that the resolution serves to “strengthen the collaboration between the World Heritage Center and the African World Heritage Fund,” an entity under the authority of the African Union.
“We need the emergence of a strong Africa, resilient and capable of taking charge of itself”, said Addahre. “Morocco calls for a reflection which involves all the member states so that the hopes of a future of shared progress offered by Africa become a reality for the peoples of the continent.”
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 seeks to repatriate all African heritage properties by strengthening the 1970 convention regarding illegal trafficking of cultural property.