In a three-day event held last week in Vanuatu, countries in the Pacific were encouraged to protect and preserve their cultures.
The discussion on the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Objects is a program aimed at reviewing progress of the region since its last meeting and enhance the understanding of the 1970 Convention.
Etienne Clement, Director of UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, said the objective of the workshop was to target the Melanesian region where there still remains massive difficulties on the removal of cultural objects.
“Which has been joined in by 129 countries all over the world but unfortunately none in the Pacific. So the workshop is really to invite the Pacific to join that convention, which is a benefit for the Pacific.”
Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and the Vanuatu National Cultural Council, Marcellin Abong, said this is an opportunity for governments and stakeholders to see the seriousness of the issue.
While the biggest outcome of the workshop was the agreement of the Port Vila Declaration by participants, more attention is needed on the matter.
Among those present were representatives from Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Other attendees include agents from the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), Pacific Heritage Hub/University of the South Pacific, Pacific Island Museum Association and Oceania Customs Organisation.