2010 Declaration Addressing The Theft & Vandalism of Africa's Rock Art


2010 DECLARATION ADDRESSING

THE THEFT AND VANDALISM OF AFRICA’S ROCK ART  21 October 2010 PREAMBLE

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“The rock art of Africa makes up one of the oldest and most extensive records on earth of human thought… Yet, today, Africa’s rock art is severely threatened.” (Kofi Annan at the United Nations, 2005).

Motivated by this statement, the Government of Morocco and TARA, with the support of partners such as AMAR and Amnir, convened a meeting of international experts to address conservation of African rock art and challenges in the face of threats of theft and vandalism.

The meeting emphasized the universal value of rock art as a manifestation of human imagination and creativity, and that:

  • Rock art is vulnerable and irreplaceable;
  • African rock art has a special place internationally because of its antiquity, long duration, variety and contribution to our understanding of African and world history;
  • Rock art provides a continuing ability to inspire and has potential as a source of benefit for all;
  • African governments need to recognize their responsibilities to safeguard rock art  for future generations; and
  • Communities must play a critical role in protecting and sustaining this threatened heritage resource against theft and vandalism.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The participants at the meeting made the following recommendations:

1.        Systematic inventories should be established, following minimum international standards, including basic site information, such as location, content, condition of preservation, as well as the risks threatening their conservation. Recording programs should be accelerated in all parts of the continent, especially in the most threatened areas.

2.        Site inventories should be archived at the appropriate level of government, which will have the responsibility to keep them updated.

3.        Monitoring programs should be introduced as a matter of urgency, taking into account, for example, potential risks, assessments of condition, and the value and significance of the art.

4.        Every African nation should have national legislation offering protection to cultural heritage, including rock art.

5.        Every African nation should develop and implement mechanisms for enforcing their cultural heritage laws, with the involvement of all concerned agencies.

6.        As the theft of rock art is an international problem, every African nation should respect or consider acceding to the relevant international conventions.

7.        Local communities living near rock art sites should be engaged so that they understand the value and importance of rock art.

8.        Communities should be involved in the management (decision making process) of rock art sites. Rock art has to make economic sense in terms of employment and other community development interventions.

9.        Communities should be empowered through capacity-building, in order for them to manage rock art.

10.     A Code of Ethics for community involvement and guidelines for heritage institutions should be developed.

11.     The Ministry or institution in charge of rock art at national level should collaborate with the Ministry of Education to introduce rock art to the school curriculum both at the primary and secondary levels. Relevant ministries, universities, agencies and associations (among others), concerned or working in rock art conservation and promotion, should be involved with this process.

12.     The Ministry or institution in charge of rock art at national level should develop a strategy for public awareness through the media at the national and international level. Relevant ministries, universities, agencies, and associations concerned or working in rock art conservation and promotion should be involved in this process. Rock Art Associations could be contracted to provide information for schools and the general public.

13.     Archaeologists, heritage managers and other researchers working on rock art sites must disseminate awareness of the value of rock art to everyone living or working in rock art areas and, in as much as possible, involve them in their work.

14.     Raise awareness of the damage that development can cause to rock art sites. Adjust legal systems to require archaeological impact assessments before major developments take place.

15.     Guidelines must be developed in consultation with communities for monitoring of rock art sites and reporting theft and vandalism. Where community assistance is not available, provisions must be made for guards or for existing forces such as the police, customs or park officials to be empowered.

16.     Create a database of rock art organizations in Africa.

17.     Establish a cooperative network of African cultural heritage organizations.

18.     Develop guidelines for Africa for the protection of rock art against theft and vandalism.

19.     Support collaboration with relevant national, regional and international organizations and agencies to develop a broad Africa-wide training program for conservation-restoration professionals in graffiti removal.

The participants hereby express their admiration for the Kingdom of Morocco for their leadership in addressing these critical issues.