28 February 2013

International Meeting of Experts on the Safeguarding of Mali’s Cultural Heritage, UNESCO Headquarters, 18 February 2013

Following the Director-General of UNESCO’s decision to assist the Government of Mali in restoring and rebuilding its cultural heritage, UNESCO has established a working group of experts from all its partners, including IFLA, with the purpose of preparing an action plan for the restoration and reconstruction of the country’s cultural heritage and building the necessary capacity.

Additional details are available here.

Ellen Tise will represent IFLA in the Expert Group which will work mainly via electronic communication. As the Past President Ellen has an excellent understanding of IFLA and also our work on cultural heritage through our Blue Shield membership and UNESCO. Also, Ellen is a member of the UNESCO Memory of the World advisory board; is Chair of the National Library Board in South Africa – the South African government and National Library have been working with the Mali government on a number of projects re the manuscripts and other cultural heritage; is the Director of Library Services at Stellenbosch University and so is familiar with work being done by a number of universities in Africa working with the cultural heritage in Mali and is well-placed to liaise with these institutions; and is well-known to African library and cultural heritage colleagues. Ellen’s role will focus on liaison across the participating organisations.

The working group was launched with an international expert meeting and the ‘Solidarity for Mali’ event on Monday the 18th of February 2013 in Paris. IFLA was represented through Christiane Baryla, Director of the IFLA Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Strategic Programme. Throughout the day, experts of cultural heritage worked on fine-tuning the action plan for the protection of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the region. In  collaboration with our colleagues  (ICA, ICCROM, ICOM, ICOMOS, ICBS),  IFLA insisted notably on the need for an assessment not only of the damages but also the situation before the damages from the conflict. IFLA pointed out the necessity of organizing training seminars in the different fields of  preservation, restoration, digitization and disaster's management  and recovery. The UNESCO action plan is not yet finalised.

IFLA will work closely with UNESCO, through our role in the Blue Shield to assess the impacts the conflict has had on libraries in Mali and will help to rebuild the library infrastructure. When the region has been declared safe UNESCO will consider sending a mission to evaluate the situation for cultural heritage. In the meantime IFLA is focusing  on drawing together information about colleagues who have experience with training or working in Mali, and what the situation was for tangible heritage artifacts before the conflict.

If you have any experience or knowledge with regards to the issues in Mali and would like to help please contact Julia Brungs

Preservation, Mali, Preservation, Cultural heritage

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