Botswana Cultural Property soon to be protected

Commercialised Botswana basket as seen at Botswana Craft website




















Botswana Government through The Botswana National Museum is  facilitating  the ratification of three conventions: namely :1970 Convention on the means of prohibiting and prevention and fight against illicit import, export and transfer of cultural property.1995 UNIDROIT convention on the restitution and return of cultural objects to countries of origin.1954 Hague Convention and its protocols, -advocates for the protection of cultural property in case of armed conflict, which might also extend to natural disasters.
 
The Botswana National Museum made commitment to facilitate ratification at a UNESCO workshop in Namibia in 2011.As a follow up to this commitment, the department submitted a proposal to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris/France to fund the ratification exercise and 26 000 Euro has so far been allocated for the ratification exercise through the UNESCO Participation Programme.

In June, 2012, the National Museum conducted a sensitization workshop for stakeholders who have in turn acted as the Project Team. The Secretariat for the 1790 Convention hosts annual meetings in Paris for member states to discuss the modalities, processes and strategies for ratification. UNESCO continues to pledge its support to the ratification process through finance and capacity building.Through the funding, the Museum has contracted the services of a UNESCO recommended expert on the conventionsConsultant to review existing laws and regulations in Botswana with a view to having a proper law in place to help with implementation and domestication of the Conventions. The key component of the ratification process  entails the review of relevant acts/ protocols/regulations on the museum/culture sector. This allows for implementation of the conventions after ratification.

Ratification Process involves 
Consultation with local communities to create awareness of the problem and the intent, in order to add to the preventative measures against looting of cultural property. 

The process also involves holding of meetings at regional, national and local levels, workshops and additional training or coaching/ by the Project Team, UNESCO officials.The awareness/training should target government officials, Civil Societies, tribal leadership as well as communities. Both law enforcement officers/agencies(Interpol, police, immigration, customs)and heritage officers and academics(university) should spearhead the awareness process.

UNESCO cluster offices (Harare/Windhoek) have also sponsored a follow-up regional workshop in Botswana, facilitated by the National Museum from 5-7 November, 2012 in Gaborone on “Awareness and Capacity Building on the Fight Against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural property in Southern Africa”. Attended by 10 Southern African countries (Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Malawi, Angola , Namibia and Mozambique), Facilitated by UNESCO and Interpol  officials.

The exercise also entails a briefing to the House of Chiefs to raise awareness on the Conventions and the to get buy-in and ownership to the ratification exercise.Contacts will also be extended to the SADC office for awareness, buy-in and possible reinstatement of the Culture Desk at SADC, which is sought by the heritage fraternity from the region. The exercise also entails a briefing to the House of Chiefs to raise awareness on the Conventions and the to get buy-in and ownership to the ratification exercise.Contacts will also be extended to the SADC office for awareness, buy-in and possible reinstatement of the Culture Desk at SADC, which is sought by the heritage fraternity from the region
The exercise also entails a briefing to the House of Chiefs to raise awareness on the Conventions and the to get buy-in and ownership to the ratification exercise.Contacts will also be extended to the SADC office for awareness, buy-in and possible reinstatement of the Culture Desk at SADC, which is sought by the heritage fraternity from the region

Benefits from the Ratification by Botswana
The UNIDROIT Convention will assist with the restitution of Botswana’s cultural property in the diaspora and in the case of theft claimants by individuals, entities, or State Parties.This will also extend to illicit export claimants which are generally known to be exclusively by States Parties.

The convention emphasizes on the uniform treatment for restitution of stolen or return of illegally exported cultural objects and claims are processed directly through national courts (or other competent authorities) of State Parties.

If the Conventions are ratified, Botswana could use the many bilateral agreements that it has with many other countries to lobby for the restitution and or access to its collections/cultural property in the diaspora (museums and art galleries). 

If ratified Botswana will benefit in areas of capacity building in documentation of collections, in added funding from UNESCO towards restitution exercises for cultural property.

Composition of Project Team
Winani Kgwatalala, Chief Curator /HOD Ethnology Division and  Tshepiso Gabonthone, Assistant Curator Ethnology ( National Museum), Inspector Ogopoleng Saitsoketsa  (Interpol), Mr K L Lepang, Mr T. Setlalekgosi( Immigration Dept.), Gofaone Gabositwe(BURS), Basireletsi P. Rantung (Police), Otsetswe Bogosibokae(Dept of Arts and Culture), O. Pitso( Attorney General Chambers), Pureene Bareetsi (Botswana UNESCO Commission), Dr Gladys Mukhawa(Centre for Culture and Peace Studies - UB), Patience Masire (Dept. of Tourism), Meshack J. Mabure(National Archives and Records Services), Lieutenant Thato Mosarwa(BDF), Abednico Macheme(Wildlife and National Parks Dept.), Kholisani Bulawa, Godknows Simmon(DCEC), Edison Mmereki(Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana), Curators (Regional Museums),………….(National Library Services Dept.)

We are hopeful that by 2014, these three conventions will be ratified. 
Document prepared by Ethnology Division





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