Zambia has been elected to the position of vice president of the UNESCO Subsidiary Committee to lead the Sub-Sahara Africa agenda on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural property.
The elections were held at the just-ended meeting of the members of the Subsidiary Committee at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris.
Ministry of Tourism and Arts Public Relations Officer Sakabilo Kalembwe said in a statement that the election of Zambia’s Director General of the National Museums Board, lexon Mizinga, as vice-president meant that the country was now a member of the Bureau of the Subsidiary Committee to represent the interests of all state parties to the convention in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Before ascending to the position of vice president, Zambia was elected as a member of the Subsidiary Committee of the meeting States Parties to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, thereby making it a potential candidate to serve on the Bureau of the Subsidiary Committee.
“One of the key aims of the convention is to assist member states take preventive measures against illicit trafficking of cultural property. This is done through inventories; export certificates, monitoring trade, imposition of penal or administrative sanctions, educational and campaigns,” Sakabilo said.
“At the end of the 1960s and in the beginning of the 1970s, thefts were increasing both in museums and at archaeological sites, particularly in the countries of Southern Africa. It is in this context that this important legal instrument was born which Zambia ratified on June21, 1985.”
Meanwhile, the country was also elected in 2015 as a member of the Inter-governmental Committee for promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its countries of origin or its restitution in case of illicit appropriation, to which Zambia was elected and Mizinga being its nominated representative. This Committee seeks to support Member States to have their property returned and can take up cases where property left the country even before 1970 such as the skull of Broken Hill man.