These are the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, as well as the Convention for the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which were discussed at a National consultation on last Thursday, drawing a wide cross section of interest groups.
Dr. Kris Rampersad, Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant for UNESCO, facilitated open discussions on both Conventions, sharing the benefits of signing on to such, and expressing the view that there are really no negative consequences of becoming party to such conventions.
She said apart from the obvious availability of funding for countries that adopted the conditions of these conventions, there are also the benefits of strength garnered from participation in the deliberation of international issues.
Responding to the concern of some participants that International Organizations do not adequately express the views or address the concerns of small countries in their conventions, Dr. Rampersad explained that that UNESCO did not operate along those lines but rather it was more the failure of developing countries to make full use of the opportunities afforded them to participate in the policy and decision making processes.
This view was supported by Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Mr. Antonio Maynard who said his organization would continue to provide opportunities for nationals to participate in those processes and would heighten its already very thorough requirements as far as follow-up action, when persons benefit from such training and awareness-oriented meetings overseas.
Mr. Maynard said, “Individuals at the consultation were not expected to become experts on the conventions but to become familiar with its contents especially in areas directly affecting them.” He suggested that they focus on the benefits.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Ms. Sharon Rattan commented on her Ministry’s commitment to ensuring opportunities for public discourse on intended and signed conventions.
The permanent secretary highlighted the inclusion of individuals from all walks of life to participate in the consultation on cultural conventions. She added specifically that every effort had been made to give the youth the opportunity to participate and commended those who had so willingly attended and given their input.
Cultural Director Mr. Creighton Pencheon said he was heartened by the show of support from the community, adding that based on the turn-out he had high hopes for the “future cultural landscape and the preservation and ownership of our unique culture.”
Present at the event which took place at the Foundation For National Development (FND) Conference Room on May 31, were tour operators, producers, teachers, musicians, singers, artists, writers, poets, craftsmen, heritage experts, media representatives as well as Mr. Winston Zack Nisbett among other cultural enthusiasts.
A similar session was held in Nevis on Friday June 1.