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ECOWAS Asks Stakeholders On Restitution Of African Cultural Property To Its Country Of Origin

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The ECOWAS Commission through the Directorate of Human Development and Social Affairs has organized an International Symposium on Restitution of African Cultural Property from 20 to 23 March 2023 at the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, Senegal.

The opening ceremony of the International Symposium was chaired by Prof. Aliou SOW, the Senegalese Minister for Culture and Historic Heritage. He commended ECOWAS for having this great initiative that will build the capacity of the Member States on the process and approaches to the restitution.

In her welcome remarks, Prof. Fatou Sow Sarr, Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission, highlighted that the ECOWAS Action Plan 2019-2023 for the return of African cultural property to its countries of origin gives the Member States a framework for consulting and convincing interlocutors of the need to deal with the issue of restitution as a whole and not in a piecemeal or case-by-case fashion.

Prof. Sarr commended the efforts made over the last two years by several countries in the region to ratify certain international conventions, particularly the UNIDROIT Convention and managed to retrieve some of these cultural works from several Western Countries. She tasked stakeholders to develop collaborative strategies for accelerating the restitution of African Cultural Property to its Country of Origin.

Among the issues discussed at the symposium are the legal and political issues regarding the restitution of cultural property to its countries of origin, the essential measures for the process of restitution of cultural property, the role of Western museums and Diaspora Communities in the restitution process of cultural property and the vital steps in the dialogue with the holding partners on the strategy for the restitution of cultural property.

Participants at the event include Culture Experts from ECOWAS Member States, International Development Partners, Commissioners in Charge of Culture across the ECOWAS Region, and Staff of the ECOWAS Commission & African Union among others.

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