UNESCO urges Pacific to protect its culture

Pacific Island countries are being urged by UNESCO to sign its convention on the protection and the preservation of cultural properties.

The renewed call came at the end of a workshop on the Fight against Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Objects in Vanuatu last week.

The director of the UNESCO Office for the Pacific states, Etienne Clement, says the convention is important for protecting the unique culture of the region.

"Which has been joined in by 129 countries all over the world but unfortunately none in the Pacific. So the workshop is really to invite the Pacific to join that convention, which is a benefit for the Pacific."

Mr Clements says the focus for the workshop was Melanesia, where there are huge problems with the removal of cultural objects.

He says a major outcome was the adoption by participants of the Port Vila Declaration which is a first step towards getting governments to commit to the cause.

The workshop involved participants from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand.

It also featured representatives from the Melanesian Spearhead Group, Oceania Customs Organisation, Pacific Heritage Hub/University of the South Pacific and the Pacific Island Museum Association.