A four- day Working Group Meeting to develop Model Law on Combating Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Goods kicked off on Tuesday 22 September 2015 at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand, South Africa. The meeting was jointly organized by the AU Department of Social Affairs and the Office of the Legal Counsel and graciously hosted by the PAP.
The Working Group meeting was attended by members of the Pan—African Parliament (MPs), Members of the African Union Commission on International Law, culture and legal experts, lawyers and legal drafters, curators, anthropologists, the AU Legal Counsel and staff from the Department of Social Affairs and the Office of the Legal Counsel.
The opening session was addressed by Mr. Ahmed El Fadly, Co-Chair of the Africa- EU Partnership on Cultural Cooperation who mentioned that the Africa-EU initiative in establishing mechanisms to combat illicit trafficking in cultural goods has been a long journey which started with the adoption of the Africa-EU Assembly Decision in 2007 to carry out an inventory of all cooperation activities between Africa and EU with regards to cultural goods. He also mentioned that the convening of the 1st Meeting of the Working Group was timely since it was happening after the holding of the 1st Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committee on Youth, Culture and Sport (STC-YCS1) and the decision of the Executive Council adopting the report of the STC-YCS1.
In her opening address, the Honorable Marie Danielle Selvon Member of the Pan-African Parliament Standing Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources pointed out that by developing the African Union Model Law on Combatting Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Goods, the African Union will be assisting in the promotion and preservation of Africa’s cultural heritage and contributing to the implementation of Aspiration 05 of the AU Agenda 2063 which is to have an Africa with a strong cultural identity, values and ethics and at the same time ensuring that our cultural and creative industries have a stronger contribution to the development of the Member States and the continent at large.
In declaring the Meeting open, Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, the AU Legal Counsel noted that the Model Law will not only contribute to legislation and eventually jurisprudence in Africa but will also contribute to the protection of Africa’s rich history that is at the centre of, and embodies the cradle of human civilization. He then urged the Working Group to work hard to ensure the implementation of the decision of the Policy Organs of the African Union regarding the preservation of Africa’s rich cultural heritage.