Mauritius: Safeguard of Intangible Cultural Heritage Is a Collective Responsibility, Says Prime Minister

press release

All that we have created, built and invented during centuries is the heritage of humanity. We have to assume our collective responsibility in safeguarding the intangible heritage which represents values, expertise, skills, knowledge, understanding nature and the environment. It is the bond between the past, the present and the future, and marks our history and identity.

The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 13th Session of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Maritim Resort and Spa, Balaclava. The Minister of Arts and Culture and Chairperson of 13th Session of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, the Director General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, and other personalities were also present at the event.

In his address, the Prime Minister highlighted that immaterial elements which constitute our intangible cultural heritage, and which need to be transmitted from generation to generation, are traditions, oral history, performing arts, social practices, traditional craftsmanship, knowledge and skills, among others. He pointed out that it is the duty of one and all to respect, protect and safeguard cultural heritage through national laws and international treaties.

The National Heritage Act, he underscored, at national level, and the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and several other treaties, at international level, touch upon or concern culture and heritage. These treaties, he added, are geared towards the fostering of cultural understanding and international cooperation.

Prime Minister Jugnauth emphasised that intangible cultural heritage is connected to future generations through its dynamic evolution and the participation of the community in State-led measures is crucial for the passing of information on past, current and future safeguarding measures. Heritage resources, he observed, must be seen as sources of wealth creation and poverty alleviation. Now is the time to engineer a framework of human development from a cultural perspective while focusing on achieving a better quality of life through our cultural diversity, he added.

For his part, Minister Roopun underpinned that despite major transformation which is underway through economic and technological globalisation, Mauritius remains resolved to preserve all its cultural heritage, be it tangible or intangible. In this endeavour, he added, Mauritius is party to several UNESCO Conventions pertaining to the safeguarding and management of cultural heritage.

The Director General of UNESCO, for her part, highlighted that this year, the Convention welcomes the arrival of three new State parties, namely Kiribati, the Republic of Singapore, and the Salomon Islands.

Some 800 members from 217 countries are attending the Convention.

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