International experts from the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) led an online meeting on the theme "Safeguarding the cultural heritage of Comoros" for government stakeholders in Comoros on 29 September 2020. The meeting was organized in close collaboration with the Direction General for Arts and Culture of Comoros and reinforced existing UNESCO projects underway in Comoros for the preparation of a first nomination file for World Heritage, a culture policy review and the development of sustainable cultural tourism.

The meeting participants introduced the context of cultural heritage in Comoros, provided an in-depth analysis of UNESCO Conventions in the field of Culture ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) Charters, and also developed recommendations for the revision of legal frameworks to strengthen the country’s protection and promotion of cultural heritage for sustainable development.

Fifteen participants joined the meeting, including: H.E. Mr. Nordine Ben Ahamad, Minister of Youth, Employment, Labor, Training and Professional Insertion, Sports, Arts and Culture of Comoros; Ms. Wahidat Hassani, Director-General for Arts and Culture; Dr. Toiwilou Mze Hamadi, Director-General of the National Center for Documentation and Scientific Research (CNDRS); Dr. Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of ALESCO; Mr. Mounir Bouchenaki, Director of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (and former Director-General of ICCROM and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture), Ms. Samina Chakira, a Comorian lawyer specializing in cultural heritage legislation, and Ms. Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

In his opening remark, Mr. Nordine Ben Ahamad expressed his commitment to ensuring the promotion of cultural heritage in Comoros. He thanked ALESCO and UNESCO for their participation and support, and wished the conference a productive outcome on the meaningful subject.

"This is the first workshop that ALESCO has organized for Comoros, and we have brought together renowned experts in the field of culture. We sincerely hope it is only the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration." Dr. Mohamed Ould Amar, Director-General of ALESCO, during his opening remarks.

Comoros ratified the UNESCO 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 2000, and both the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2013.

"We welcome ALESCO’s support to Comoros, whose Ministry for Culture has been actively working to ratify the full portfolio of UNESCO Conventions in the field of culture, and has also been working closely with UNESCO to strengthen national capacities to identify and safeguard its natural and cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage, as well as to re-shape its cultural policies with the full involvement of stakeholders." Ms. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director and Representative, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa.

For more information on UNESCO actions in Comoros, please visit: https://en.unesco.org/countries/comoros