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Ethiopia strengthens capacities for the protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict

Dr Mulugeta Fiseha, General Manager of ARCCH©UNESCO/Getu Assefa

The UNESCO Liaison Office in Addis Ababa in partnership with the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) organized an awareness raising and capacity building workshop on the UNESCO 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two protocols (1954 and 1999) from 31 May to 1 June 2021 in Adama town, Ethiopia. The workshop aimed to consult a wide range of stakeholders in the preparation of Ethiopia’s national periodic report on implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention, which is due on 30 June 2021.

The workshop was officially opened by Dr. Mulugeta Fiseha, Director General of ARCCH, who stressed the importance and timeliness of organizing this workshop to improve knowledge of the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols (1954 and 1999). It should be noted that Ethiopia ratified the 1954 Convention and its first protocol in 2015.

The Hague Convention is the first international treaty with a world-wide vocation focusing exclusively on the protection of cultural heritage in the event of armed conflict. It covers immovable and movable cultural heritage, including monuments of architecture, art or history, archaeological sites, works of art, manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest, as well as scientific collections of all kinds regardless of their origin or ownership.

Mr. Getu Assefa, UNESCO National Professional Officer for Culture, conveyed a message from Dr Yumiko Yokozeki, Director and representative of the UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office to the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), about the importance of ensuring a timely submission of  Ethiopia’s Quadrennial Periodic Report on the implementation of the 1954 Convention, which is a requirement and important mechanism allowing State Parties to assess and disseminate information on measures taken, prepared or contemplated by the respective authorities in the fulfilment of the Convention and its protocols.

The workshop brought together over thirty-five (35) participants in a multi‐stakeholder national team composed of representatives from various ministries and institutions including: the Ministry of Peace (Military Personnel), Ministry of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, INTERPOL Ethiopia and heritage professionals from ARCCH. The participants benefited from presentations given about the Convention with the two protocols and the statutory requirements that will contribute to the preparation of Ethiopia’s national Periodic Report.

UNESCO provided financial and technical support for the workshop, and is also providing additional support to AARCH for their emergency response to the ongoing crisis in the Tigray region.

For more information on the UNESCO 1954 Convention and UNESCO actions for the protection of cultural property in times of armed conflict, please see: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/armed-conflict-and-heritage/convention-and-protocols/