16 August 2016

UNESCO reports on assistance programmes to dependent territories

"The United Nations General Assembly (annually) request(s) the specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, and international and regional organizations, to examine and review conditions in each Non-Self-Governing Territory, so as to take appropriate measures to accelerate progress in the economic and social sectors of the Territories." (
U.N. General Assembly Resolution 70/96)

Information submitted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 
on assistance to Non Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs)

(excerpted from U.N. Report E/2016/49 )

Five Non-Self-Governing Territories have the status of associate members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), namely Anguilla (2013), the British Virgin Islands (1983), the Cayman Islands (1999), Montserrat (2015) and Tokelau (2001). UNESCO employs every opportunity to engage with Territories through platforms of action, information and cooperation, or capacity-building activities organized at the regional, subregional and national levels.

To address the lack of good-quality education statistics in the Pacific, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the secretariat of the Pacific Community jointly organized a regional workshop on education data and indicators, with a focus on the International Standard Classification of Education 2011, in New Caledonia in February 2014. Fifteen Pacific island countries and Territories, including Tokelau, took part.

UNESCO assisted Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Montserrat in capacity-building for officials of their respective ministries of education regarding the monitoring and evaluation of education sector plans and policy priorities, and in designing and implementing technical and vocational education and training and skills development. The capacity of the ministries was also strengthened through planning for disaster risk reduction in the education sector. Training in quality assurance in higher education was organized in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat.

A small number of World Heritage properties are located in Non-Self-Governing Territories: in Bermuda, the historic town of St George and related fortifications (cultural property, United Kingdom, inscribed in 2000); in New Caledonia, the lagoons of New Caledonia, their reef diversity and associated ecosystems (natural property, France, inscribed in 2008); Henderson Island, Pitcairn (natural property, Pitcairn, United Kingdom, inscribed in 1988).

Whereas nomination files have to be submitted by those States parties that have ratified the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the local authorities of those Territories are usually involved in the preparation of the files and the day-to-day management of the properties.

The lagoons of New Caledonia were selected as a World Heritage property good practice case study for the involvement of local communities in the management of such properties in the publication World Heritage in Europe Today (available from http://whc.unesco.org/en/eur-na/), published in February 2016.

There are also a number of sites located in Non-Self-Governing Territories that are inscribed on the tentative lists of States parties for nomination to World Heritage status: in Gibraltar, Gorham’s cave complex (cultural property, United Kingdom, added in 2012); Saint Helena (natural property, United Kingdom, added in 2012); the Turks and Caicos Islands (natural property, United Kingdom, added in 2012); on American Samoa, the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (natural property, United States, added in 2008); in French Polynesia, the sacred site of Tapu-tapu-ātea/Te Pō, valley of Ō-po-ä (cultural property, France, added in 2010).

Non-Self-Governing Territories participate in World Heritage Committee sessions and may make statements as part of the State party delegation, as participants from New Caledonia did at the thirty-second session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Quebec in 2008. For the Caribbean, all the Territories are invited to international and periodic reporting meetings organized with UNESCO, irrespective of their status.

Experts from Non-Self-Governing Territories regularly attend events and meetings relating to World Heritage issues. For example, three experts from New Caledonia took part in a Pacific World Heritage workshop (Apia, September 2011); representatives of Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands attended a meeting on the theme of “Capacity-building on heritage conservation in the Caribbean small island developing States”, held in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, from 8 to 13 May 2014; and two representatives of the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands took part in a Caribbean training course on the preparation of nomination dossiers for World Heritage status (Kingston, June 2012) and in a follow-up training workshop organized in Antigua in March 2013.

The UNESCO Asia-Pacific World Heritage project organized a workshop on marine biodiversity and climate change awareness among youth, held in Touho, New Caledonia, from 7 to 13 April 2014 in cooperation with the Conservatoire d’espaces naturels de Nouvelle Calédonie, which has been playing a central role in the management of the lagoons of New Caledonia. Some 15 international and 10 local young persons took part in the youth action camp to share youth-led initiatives in marine biodiversity and climate change adaptation in their respective countries and learn about some of the international frameworks, such as the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

A representative of New Caledonia attended a workshop on efforts to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property in Melanesia, held in Port Vila from 5 to 7 August 2015 and convened by UNESCO in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Vanuatu. It brought together representatives of five Melanesian countries and Territories, along with representatives of UNESCO, the International Criminal Police Organization, the Pacific Islands Museums Association, the Oceania Customs Organization secretariat, the Pacific Heritage Hub at the University of the South Pacific, the secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and participants from Australia and New Zealand. The participants discussed the related challenges facing the Pacific small island developing States, including ocean border control, the communal ownership of cultural heritage, cultural infrastructure development, resource constraints and the lack of awareness of cultural property laws among visitors and the expatriate community.

Several Non-Self-Governing Territories hold important underwater cultural heritage sites and/or are profiting from their valorization. Bermuda plans to establish an international shipwreck exploration industry to generate revenue; the Cayman Islands is working towards research into and protection of submerged sites and their touristic valorization; in the waters of Guam, submerged cultural heritage from every period of colonial occupation is known to be present, including shipwrecks from the Spanish colonial period, some of which have recently been commercially exploited; New Caledonia boasts many submerged ships (more than 300 large vessels are known to have been lost in its waters); Pitcairn is best known for the story of the Bounty, famously associated with one of the most notorious mutinies in British history, meaning that the wreck of the Bounty and mutineer village sites on land are culturally significant for the population; and underwater cultural heritage sites in Tokelau provide testimony to the contacts made by Tokelau with surrounding countries.

Representatives of the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands attended a UNESCO regional capacity-building programme on the safeguarding of the underwater cultural heritage of the Caribbean, held in Port Royal, Jamaica, in November 2012.
34.    UNESCO has been working for some years on the development of a cultural policy for Tokelau. This has progressed very slowly. To date, a scoping paper on how the policy could be developed has been prepared and an in-country consultation held. Furthermore, UNESCO is supporting a report on the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in Tokelau that will contribute further to the national policy, if Tokelau decides to take it forward, as well as helping to identify intangible cultural heritage at risk.

UNESCO provided support to the Cayman Islands in the development of its first national cultural policy (2015-2016).

UNESCO provided assistance to the first festival of Oceania tapa, held in Tahiti, French Polynesia, from 13 to 23 November 2014 in the framework of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The festival brought together more than 100 tapa makers, government officials, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations involved in the safeguarding and revitalization of tapa. The festival consisted of a symposium, a demonstration workshop and exhibitions. It provided an opportunity to highlight the unifying dimension of the unique intangible cultural heritage shared among islands in the Pacific and discuss how to strengthen its safeguarding through regional and international cooperation.

An expert from the Department of Culture, Citizenship and the Status of Women of New Caledonia took part in a workshop on the theme of intangible cultural heritage implementation, organized by the International Training Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO in Beijing in December 2012.

Because of its proximity to three of the islands in the project and a direct relationship to their intangible cultural heritage, in 2015 Anguilla took part in a project on strengthening the capacities of Suriname and the Caribbean islands of the Netherlands to implement the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Through a series of workshops in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, UNESCO has been working with educators and trainers to enable them to develop hands-on programmes on education for sustainable development, with the proactive approach of “measure, analyse, share and take action” of the UNESCO “Sandwatch” global climate change education and coastal monitoring programme, which is focused on small island developing States.

For the Pacific region, a workshop on climate change education inside and outside the classroom was held in Poindimié, New Caledonia, from 27 to 30 October 2014, with the support of the North Province of New Caledonia. The course combined lessons from the teachers’ course on climate change education for sustainable development and Sandwatch. The 28 participants came mainly from small island developing States in the Pacific and from New Caledonia, and included primary, secondary and tertiary level teachers, school principals, teacher trainers, educators and curriculum developers from ministries of education, and community educators from non-governmental organizations.

In addition, schools and community groups in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, New Caledonia, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands continue to implement locally the methodology of a science education scheme through sustainable coastal monitoring, through which pupils, teachers and local communities work together in the field to monitor their beach environments, identify and evaluate the threats, problems and conflicts facing them and develop appropriate sustainable approaches to address those issues.

The UNESCO International Hydrological Programme has led the first-ever global assessment of the current state of groundwater resources in small island developing States, which will provide the basis for the development of policies and procedures for the sound management of those resources. Nine Non-Self-Governing Territories (American Samoa, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Montserrat, New Caledonia, Tokelau and the United States Virgin Islands) were assessed. The results revealed that groundwater was the only source of water supply for most of them and that population density appeared to be the main driver of water stress. Most of the islands were shown to be at risk of human-caused pollution of groundwater and of water scarcity. On the basis of that work and other activities within its groundwater and climate change programme, the Groundwater Resources Assessment under the Pressures of Humanity and Climate Change, under the auspices of the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme, is currently preparing a technical paper on the impact of climate change on groundwater resources on small island developing States (including the nine Territories listed above).

Within the framework of the activities of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, officials from French Polynesia took part in the following meetings:

          (a)     Third meeting of the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System Working Group Task Team on Seismic Data-sharing in the South-west Pacific, held in May 2014 in Port Vila;

          (b)     International tsunami symposium held on 20 and 21 April 2015, in Honolulu, United States, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System;

          (c)     Twenty-sixth session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System, held from 21 to 24 April 2015 in Honolulu.

Officials from New Caledonia also took part in the above-mentioned and following meetings and events sponsored by the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission:

          (a)     Training on new enhanced tsunami forecast products, held in May 2014 under the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System;

          (b)     Fourth meetings of the Working Group Task Team on Seismic Data-sharing in the South-west Pacific, held in November 2015 in Suva.

It is also planned that Tokelau will be assisted with strengthening its tsunami monitoring, warning and response capabilities by dedicated training of its key staff and by supporting the formalization of warning arrangements with the Government of Samoa. The support will also include the formulation of a tsunami plan and the development of standard operating procedures for warning and response.

American Samoa, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Tokelau are all significant players in Pacific regional networks, such as the Pacific Youth Council and Pacific women’s networks, of which there are several. Pitcairn is less well integrated into those networks, probably owing to its remoteness. The regional networks provide important opportunities for exchanging information and building capacity and should be fostered and strengthened.

UNESCO provides specific support to Tokelau as part of the cluster under its office in Apia. Past programmes have focused on youth (national youth policy and action plan) and gender equality (national women’s policy and action plan).

UNESCO is organizing a Pacific youth policy workshop, to be held in June 2016 in Nadi, Fiji, in partnership with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Participants from American Samoa, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are expected.

On 23 and 24 September 2015, UNESCO organized its first-ever two-day conference and consultation on the ethical dimensions of the information society and Internet privacy for members (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) and associate members (Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands) of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. At this major event, organized with the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis in the framework of the UNESCO intergovernmental “Information for All” programme, current challenges relating to information ethics were examined, in particular those facing small island developing States. A declaration was adopted, including strategic recommendations for shaping national and regional information and knowledge societies, programmes and policies, thereby enabling small island developing States to develop a range of proactive responses.

A representative of Montserrat took part in the General Assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, held in Grenada in August 2015. Freedom of expression, media self-regulation and media policy and funding were among the issues discussed.

A representative of the British Virgin Islands took part in the UNESCO “Memory of the World” training workshop for Latin America and Caribbean, which was held in Jamaica in August 2015. During the hands-on workshop, participants prepared their first nominations for the Memory of the World international register.