Press Releases

ECOWAS Advocacy for the Return of Cultural Property to the Countries of Origin: Commissioner Mamadou Traore holds talks with the Liberian Authorities

10 May, 2021
On the 6th and 7th of May 2021, a mission of the ECOWAS Department of Education Science and Cul-ture, led by acting Commissioner Mamadou Traore, visited Monrovia and had audience with the Li-berian authorities as part of advocacy for the return of African cultural property to their countries of origin.

The first audience was granted by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, Mr Henri B. Fahnbulleh, and discussions centered on the role of the Foreign Affairs Ministry in the ratification of international texts on cultural heritage, including the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1996 UNIDROIT Convention. The minister affirmed his country’s commitment towards the ratifi-cation of the texts.

During the second audience with the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Mr Ledg-erhood J. Rennie, and the Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Mr Lance K. Gbagonyon, discussions centered on the legal framework of the cultural heritage and the steps underway for the ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Convention and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention. The Liberian Infor-mation Minister and the ECOWAS acting Commissioner for Education Science and Culture agreed to convene a stakeholder workshop to create awareness and encourage ownership of the conventions and the ECOWAS 2019-2023 Action Plan for the Return of Cultural Objects to their Countries of Origin. They further agreed on the need to develop domestic tourism by setting up a cross-border tour between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Finally, Commissioner Mamadou Traore was granted audience with the Deputy Minister for Codifi-cation at Liberia’s Ministry of Justice, Mr Nyenati Tuan. The discussion centered on the depart-ment’s assistance in the restitution of cultural objects, as it relates to the legal aspect. Another mat-ter equally raised was the role of the Ministry of Justice in the ratification of the 1970 UNESCO Con-vention and 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, which is vital to the return of cultural objects.

Throughout the different meetings, Commissioner Mamadou Traore was accompanied by Mr Na-thaniel B. Walker, Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission President in Li-beria, Mr Benedict Roberts, Head of the ECOWAS National Unit in Liberia and Dr Raguidissida Emile Zida, Head of Cultural Division of the ECOWAS Commission Department of Education, Science and Culture.

Member States