Department of Arts & Culture on UNESCO & Cultural Diversity
Arts and Culture
14 September 2010
Chairperson: Mr T Farisani (ANC)
The Department of Arts and Culture briefed the Committee on the role of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Cultural Diversity, the objectives and progress of the South African National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Convention on Cultural Diversity.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation defined and saw Cultural Diversity as a driving force of development, not only in respect of economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005 was the first normative international instrument that dealt with the protection and promotion of cultural diversity on a global scale.
Members asked how many South African staff served in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation at the Windhoek branch; how the South African tribal groups would go about reclaiming or retrieving valuable heritage or artefacts that had been taken away from them by the colonisers; about the drum of which the Tshivhase people had been robbed by the apartheid regime; and how the Department intended to retrieve the Rivonia Trial documents.
Consideration and adoption of previous minutes was postponed.
Election of Acting Chairperson
Mr Lusanda Myoli, Committee Secretary, called upon Members for nominations for an Acting Chairperson, since the Rev T Farisani (ANC), Chairperson, was regrettably unable to attend. Mr H Maluleka was nominated and seconded.
Department of Arts and Culture on UNESCO and Cultural Diversity
Mr Themba Wakashe, Director-General, Department of Arts and Culture, introduced the briefing.
Ms Louise Graham, Chief Director, International Relations, Department of Arts and Culture, gave an introduction to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and its role.
UNESCO was one of the 15 specialised agencies of the United Nations and contributed to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue through its mandate for education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
UNESCO membership consisted of 193 countries and seven associate members.
UNESCO was based in
UNESCO had a number of priority projects within it’s field of expertise, which included literacy, technical and teacher training programmes; international science programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects; the promotion of cultural diversity; international cooperation agreements to promote and protect the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites); and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide.
Ms Graham said that UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2008 to 2013 was structured around various objectives one of which was the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace. UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy also gave top priority to
Ms Graham highlighted that the Department of Arts and Culture was involved closely with UNESCO in the implementation of UNESCO’s programmes on Heritage (World Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Underwater Heritage), and Memory of the World.
UNESCO defined and saw Cultural Diversity as a driving force of development, not only in respect of economic growth, but also as a means of leading a more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual life. This was captured in all seven cultural conventions at UNESCO, which provided a basis for the promotion of cultural diversity.
The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions stood out among the heritage-related conventions in that it focused primarily on the diversity of cultural expressions, as circulated and shared through cultural activities, goods, and the most contemporary transmitters of culture. This Convention had been adopted by majority vote at the 33rd session of the UNESCO General Conference in 2005. The Convention was the first normative international instrument that that dealt with the protection and promotion of cultural diversity on a global scale.
Ms Graham said that
Ms Graham said that the Department would be conducting consultative workshops throughout the country within provinces, associated institutions and civil society representatives in the arts, culture and heritage sector to promote the implementation of the approved operational guidelines of the Convention.
Ms Graham said that the 21st of May had been declared by UNESCO as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
The Acting Chairperson asked Members to pose their questions to the Department.
Ms M Nxumalo (ANC) asked what the acronym UNESCO stood for.
Ms Graham replied that UNESCO stood for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Ms Nxumalo asked how many South African staff served in UNESCO at the
Ms Graham replied that there were no South Africans serving at the Windhoek UNESCO offices and it was a very small office; however the entire SANATCOM office consisted of South Africans.
Ms J Tshivhase (ANC) asked the Department how the South African tribal groups would go about reclaiming or retrieving valuable heritage or artefacts that had been taken away from them by the colonisers.
Mr Wakashe replied that there was no formula for retrieving national artefacts from other nations, especially those belonging to those of developing nations such as
Mr Wakashe said that a number of South African artefacts taken by various nations from
Mr Wakashe said that the artefacts taken during colonial rule were the hardest to retrieve. Some were in foreign public venues or owned by foreign private individuals.
Ms Tshivhase said that her tribe wanted to claim back the drum that had been taken away from them by the apartheid regime.
Mr Wakashe responded to Ms Tshivhase’s query about the drum by saying that the issue she mentioned was one that he and she had been discussing for years. The existence of the drum was being investigated.
Ms Tshivhase also asked about the return of the Rivonia Trial documentation and how the Department intended to retrieve those documents.
Mr Wakashe said that there were a number of collections of the Rivonia Trial documents. Some had been taken by the Prosecutor during the Trial and sold to the Oppenheimer family. He said that the Oppenheimer family had been very gracious when the state had approached it about the documents, and after negotiations the family had returned the documents to the state.
Mr Wakashe said that the state had bought artefacts from auctions before using private galleries, as the state often found out about their availability or even existence at the very last moment.
Mr Wakashe continued to say that negotiations took a long time and people must be prepared for a long wait, as the negotiations with the French over Sarah Baartman’s remains had taken six years to be concluded, before her remains were returned to
Consideration and adoption of previous minutes
The Acting Chairperson said that it was best to defer the adoption of the minutes of the previous meeting until the next meeting, because of the low attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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