Mr. Ahmed M. Hagi Ali, Chargé d’affaires of the Somali Embassy in Paris, today presented UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay with the original instruments of ratification of the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), making it the Convention’s 194th State Party, as well as the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), becoming the 180th State Party. Somalia was the final country in Africa to join the World Heritage Convention
“UNESCO applauds the Federal Republic of Somalia for recognizing the leading role that culture can play in the country’s efforts towards peacebuilding and sustainable development” said the Director-General. Somalia has a wealth of built and natural heritage, as well as living heritage, and the implementation of these standard setting instruments, along with the international network of support they offer, can help to ensure the safeguarding and conservation of this heritage.
As the newest State Party to the World Heritage Convention, Somalia will be in a position to nominate sites to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, for which Africa is under-represented. As a State Party to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention, Somalia will also be expected to draw up inventories of its intangible cultural heritage practices and develop safeguarding plans to ensure their transmission to future generations.
The Director-General invited Somalia to submit International Assistance requests to both Conventions’ funds to support needs assessments, inventories, research and documentation as well as legislation and policies to support tangible and intangible cultural heritage in Somalia.
This significant step on the part of Somalia follows workshops that UNESCO led last year in the capital Mogadishu and online with key national authorities to review the benefits of joining the UNESCO Culture Conventions. The courses also raised awareness of the resources available through the UNESCO Culture Programme, which could support Somalia’s efforts to harness culture for sustainable development.
In February this year, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, was the first Director-General to visit Somalia, where she held talks with the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, Abdullahi Godah Barre, and Minister of Women and Human Rights Deqa Yasin.