Monday, June 13, 2011

Cultural Policy Talks on Cultural Rights

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO in collaboration with the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC) recently held a one-day validation workshop on a “Case study on cultural rights” at Paradise Siutes Hotel in Kololi.
The objectives of the workshop is to look at the level at which national laws and policies have addressed issues of cultural rights in terms of minority, child, women and youth rights, language, heritage and intellectual property rights in relation to international accords and binding treaties such as the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The process is also aimed at assessing all national legal provisions on the promotion and limitation of cultural rights in the country, and also to suggest strategies of maximizing the exercise of cultural rights in The Gambia and to make their application more inclusive.
It is also intended to assess the rights of minorities to take part in cultural life, and to conserve and promote their cultural.
Making his statement at the ocassion, Mr. Yayha Al-Matarr Jobe, principal program officer , NATCOM-UNESCO Banjul said that the Declaration of the Principle of International Cultural Cooperation, is one of UNESCO’s special documents devoted to cultural interaction stating that “ignorance of the way of life and customs of people still present an obstacle to friendship among the nations, to peaceful cooperation and to the progress of mankind”.
Mr. Jobe also defines “cultural rights”, as he puts it, cultural rights is the right of a human being to labour and education, to a free and all-round development of his or her personality, to an active participation in creating material and spiritual values as well as using them for further progress of modern civilization, according to Jobe's definition.
He went on to say these values also include natural science, social and human science, medical values which are integral part of culture.
He said that the international experts invited by UNESCO-BREDA, with the carefully selected national stakeholders have the task to look at the document once again and improve it to highlight their true reflections, to add an international dimension to it in order to enrich it for reference purpose for their counterparts in the sub region.
This, Jobe notes might be a daunting task but they are convinced that the national and international experts who represented different groups will make critical suggestions for a standard document out of the validation process, he pointed out.
Fatou Mass Jobe Njie, Minister of Tourism and Culture who declared the programme opened, argued that “very little rights and privileges were given to minority groups, children and women as well as cultural stakeholders during the colonial period and the first republic” in The Gambia.
In contrary, she said within the last 16 years, the government promoted and encouraged these rights and privileges to all without any exception. University education was a rare privilege only available to very few Gambians.
She said: “Since the establishment of the University of The Gambia, more than 2500 Gambian students have graduated with their first degrees and more than 40 percent of these students were fully sponsored by the government irrespectively of their backgrounds, tribes, social class and political affiliation.”
The proliferation of cultural groups has highlighted the rich cultural diversity in the Gambia and has also given the minority groups the needed confidence and visibility, she said.

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