Asean moves forward with cultural cooperation

Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Asean leaders signed the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation during Asean Summit meetings held in Vientiane last September.

Asean is working to enhance cooperation between Asean member states in the area of cultural heritage protection, following new guidance from the bloc’s leaders.

Deputy Secretary General of Asean for the Asean Social-Cultural Community, Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, told the media about the progress made on the sidelines of an Asean meeting held in Vientiane recently on cooperation in natural disaster response.

Asean leaders signed the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation during Asean Summit meetings held in Vientiane last September.

“We are working with our partners to identify ways to conduct an in-depth analysis of how we can implement this declaration,” Vongthep said. Through the declaration, Asean heads of state and government expressed concern about the increasing threats to tangible cultural heritage as a result of illicit trafficking in cultural property. They believe that strengthening regional cooperation in the protection, preservation, and promotion of cultural heritage is key to countering such threats.

Vongthep spoke about the progress made to date, noting the intentions of Asean members, and saying the declaration addresses not only tangible, but also intangible aspects such as trafficking in cultural and intellectual property, as well as in items of significant cultural value.

“We have to think about how we can get these things back,” he said, referring to stolen items of cultural value.

He pointed to the importance of cross sectoral coordination, saying the information and culture sector could not carry out this work alone, but needed coordination with the law enforcement sector and senior officials responsible for transnational crime.

He said that in adopting the Asean Vision 2025, all Asean countries and the Asean Secretariat had recognised a way to move forward, which would  emphasise that whatever cross-cutting issues Asean members were addressing involved cross-sectoral coordination.

Under the Vientiane Declaration on Reinforcing Cultural Heritage Cooperation, Asean leaders agreed on Advancing Tangible Cultural Heritage Cooperation and Strengthening Intangible Cultural Heritage Cooperation.

Following these principles, Asean will continue to investigate the synergy between cultural heritage and other policies and programmes related to cultural heritage preservation.

They will explore the possibility of region-wide efforts to assist Asean member states where cultural heritage is damaged by or is facing deterioration from natural or man-made disasters.

Asean will identify areas of cooperation related to intangible cultural heritage, and use them as means to convey Asean values and solidarity to the people of the region.

Member states will organise regular and sustained people-to-people exchanges targeting young people and artists, highlighting the rich traditions, shared values and diverse cultural expressions of Asean, as well as the creativity and innovative spirit of Asean craftsmen and youth apprenticeships.