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International Council of African Museums

Constituent Assembly, 3-9 October 1999, Lusaka, Zambia

1. Establishment of AFRICOM

Recognising the necessity of an organisation, institutionally strong, flexible and effective in managing and coordinating activities;
Considering the need to establish the headquarters of AFRICOM;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop an immediate strategy for the establishment of the Organisation and its headquarters considering:

  • the legal framework, the institutional organisation, financial and human resource management,
  • individual and institutional membership development including the establishment of a database,
  • communications and information management,
  • partnership arrangements with funders, donors and other agencies in Africa and outside the continent,
  • inform OAU and other agencies about AFRICOM, its constitution and program.

Proposed Action: AFRICOM to establish the necessary organisational infrastructure by the 31st of March 2000.

2. Establishment of AFRICOM Development Fund

Noting that African institutions and agencies are economically disadvantaged;
Considering that effective improvement of heritage management cannot be achieved without financial commitments;
Affirming that the income and contributions from donor and other agencies need to be efficiently coordinated;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:

AFRICOM should establish a Development Fund providing for:

  • general financial management and project coordination,
  • finances allocated for specific projects and programs,
  • scholarships and bursaries for training and personnel development,
  • emergency allocation for the rescue of heritage and displaced museum personnel during conflicts or natural disasters.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM in partnership with African Development Bank, donor agencies and other strategic partners establishes an AFRICOM Development Fund.
3. Training and Capacity Building

Reviewing the significance of community orientation for museums;
Identifying the gaps in the capacity of museums to work with their stakeholders;
Recognising the urgency of appropriate capacity building for sustainability of museums;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a corporate plan for training and capacity building of its members including the following:

  • skills for advocacy and negotiation with governments, private sector agencies, communities, tourism industry and other relevant stakeholders,
  • ability to work with new technologies and other challenges of the new millennium,
  • maximising on traditional knowledge for both conservation and developmental purposes,
  • review of existing museum studies courses,
  • development of training programs at all levels and in order of priority as follows
  • basic level training for technicians, intermediate level certificate and diploma training and university based graduate training and research development,
  • develop and implement a train the trainer program,
  • exchanges of personnel within Africa and beyond.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM Secretariat to further develop the existing reports and reviews into a corporate plan for establishing a five year program for training and capacity building.
4. Intangible Heritage Resources
Noting the urgent need for museums to play greater attention to protecting and promoting intangible heritage values;
Understanding that Intangible heritage includes a range of knowledge domains;
Recognising the lack of capacity in museums to deal with this very critical area of African heritage management;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a program for the conservation, continuation and management of intangible heritage resources through:
  • conducting a survey of existing initiatives and programs,
  • organising a seminar for developing a framework for managing the living heritage value systems,
  • identifying and creating the infrastructure to manage intangible heritage resources,
  • developing pilot projects for museum development in this area.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM to work in close partnership with UNESCO and ICOM to develop an African Living Heritage Management Program.
5. Communications Strategy
Considering the paucity of locally relevant published materials for museum development in Africa;
Noting the urgent need to develop materials in a range of areas of museums activity, especially art museums and intangible heritage management;
Considering the importance of regular networking among members;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a communications strategy that takes into consideration:
  • publications and materials in print and multimedia formats that are developed and produced in Africa,
  • infrastructure capacity for Internet based communication including an AFRICOM Website,
  • regular information bulletins or newsletter and a professional journal,
  • up dating the Directory of Museums Professionals in Africa,
  • development of networking with identified networks and strategic partners,
  • exploring the feasibility of bilingual and multilingual glossaries, lexicons and thesaurus as part of a long term project,
  • various means for the exchange of projects and experiences.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM to identify the capacity of members and the range of institutions to participate in a vibrant network and develop means of promoting communication and publications.
6. Conventions and Legislation
Concerned that the 1993 audit of countries that are signatories to international conventions is not encouraging;
Noting the lack appropriate national legislations and harmony of existing legislations among the members;
Alarmed at the increasing illicit traffic in cultural property;
Emphasising that the members have a responsibility to negotiate with their governments about the significance of international networking for protecting African heritage;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM Secretariat brings to date the review of signatories to International conventions (the International Convention on the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property, UNIDROIT, The Hague Convention on Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict -2nd Diplomatic Protocol and the current convention that is being drafted on Water Heritage) and also identifies through members the state of national legislations and promote the following:
  • encourage the members to advocate with their governments to ratify the relevant conventions,
  • advocate with member countries the need for bringing up to date their national legislation and harmonise them with their neighbours,
  • plan for bilateral and multilateral relations on a regional basis to act cooperatively in developing capacity and implementation strategies.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM in partnership with ICOM to publish the revised review of signatories to relevant conventions and the state of relevant national legislations and send it to all the government and regional cooperation agencies.
7. Protection of Heritage Under Threat
Noting the various areas of Africa where heritage resources are under threat;
Considering the need to act cooperatively to address the threats posed to cultural properties;
Affirming the responsibility of professional agencies;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a strategic approach to prevent the loss of cultural property through:
  • preparing inventories of endangered cultural property,
  • organisation of international workshops on the protection of cultural property affected by conflicts,
  • designing of plans for salvaging cultural property in danger,
  • organising travelling exhibitions to raise consciousness about the threats to cultural property during armed conflict.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM in partnership with ICOM and other Blue Shied partners establish a permanent working group specialising in the protection of cultural property during armed conflicts taking into consideration the above mentioned actions.
8. Visual Documentation of Collections
Concerned by the lack of up-to-date visual documentation of museum collections in most African museums;
Considering the progress achieved by AFRICOM in creating collection management standards;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM establishes a strategy in support of the creation, by African museums, of complete photographic documentation of their collections, by using contemporary techniques of production and management of images, taking into account:
  • the use of common standards of production and management of the images and the data,
  • the use of harmonised technical standards,
  • the establishment of a network of the visual and documentary data produced for the risk management of collections,
  • the training of personnel in the production, management and use of photographic data.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM develop and implement a project to support the photographic documentation of museum collections, combining the use of AFRICOM standards and that of contemporary techniques of production, management, networking and accessing of images.
9. Museum Autonomy
Discussing the 1995 report on museum autonomy;
Considering that this issue continues to be of major significance;
Noting the strong concern of members for further work in this area;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM initiate a phase two of the Museums Autonomy study taking into consideration:
  • the need to build on the 1995 study,
  • sensitivities and potential threats to defunding from governments,
  • the particular situation and concerns of AFRICOM members.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM to initiate phase two of the Museum Autonomy project in partnership with members and regional organisations.
10. Museums and Multiculturalism
Considering the range of issues raised about ethnic and other tensions between communities;
Noting the consensus among members that museums have a role to play in facilitating cross cultural understanding;
Affirming the commitment to the promotion of peace and reconciliation in Africa;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
Members of AFRICOM identify and promote the different ways museums could contribute to harmonious multicultural societies through:
  • members developing position papers or state of the nation reports on museums and multiculturalism in their countries,
  • introduction of local/community languages in museums,
  • developing and implementing a capacity building program on museums and Multiculturalism,
  • initiate and exchange relevant projects among the different members.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM and the Working Group on Cross Cultural Issues of the International Executive Council of ICOM develop a Museums and Multiculturalism Project.
11. Development and Education
Debating the relevance of museums and their programs to the communities;
Concerned that in many countries the institutions have become out of touch with their constituent communities;
Noting that different experiences that showed involvement of the communities was the key to success;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM should recognise that museums can be vehicles/tools/means to community development and consider the following:
  • initiate a cultural policies in development project,
  • profiling best practice projects through the Internet and publications,
  • further progress the MEPOA project,
  • facilitation of a conference addressing educators and the linkages with schools and communities.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM in partnership with UNESCO and the International Committee for Education and Cultural Action of ICOM develop a Heritage, Education and Development Program.
12. Exhibit Development
Concerned about the relevance of museums to constituent communities;
Acknowledging that the concept of permanent and temporary exhibitions need to be reviewed in Africa;
Considering the importance of access and reflection of the diversity of population, especially women, children, rural communities and people with disabilities;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a capacity building program for exhibit development taking the following into consideration:
  • promotion of vibrant and relevant exhibitions and outreach programs,
  • visitor surveys and audience studies to enable museums to develop responsive projects and exhibits,
  • temporary and travelling exhibits that reflect current concerns and issues affecting the society,
  • cooperative projects and exhibit exchange among African members and with partners elsewhere.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM through its members and in collaboration with the International Committees of Marketing and Public Relations and Exhibition Exchange of ICOM develop an AFRICOM Exhibit and Outreach Development Program.
13. New Institutional Development
Considering the urgent need to develop specialised museums, especially art, science, women's and children's museums in Africa;
Recognising the significance of new institutions that develop an African museological philosophy;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM should establish a new institutional developmental framework for:
  • the promotion of contemporary and indigenous African art focussing on African aesthetics,
  • partnerships for science museums and community centred science education development,
  • targetting projects in the different regions of Africa.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM in partnership with relevant public and private stakeholders, the International Committee for Science and Technology of ICOM, the International Association of Science-Technology Centers, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Fine Arts of ICOM, donors and other relevant agencies develop a detailed action plan and implement it on a phased basis.
14. Cultural and Heritage Tourism
Noting that tourism is the world's fastest growth industry;
Considering the conservation impacts and increases in illicit traffic in cultural property with the growth of tourism;
Responding to the need to diversify museum resource base through various means of funding and heritage management;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop a program for museums and heritage tourism taking into consideration the need for:
  • understanding the conceptual underpinnings of cultural and heritage tourism,
  • training materials and workshops for capacity building,
  • drafting of a standards document or charter for development of cultural and heritage tourism.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM and the Working Group on Tourism of the International Executive Council of ICOM develop a Cultural and Heritage Tourism Project.
15. Human Remains and Sacred Objects
Expressing the concern and sadness at the state of African human remains and sacred objects in museums across the world;
Recognising the importance of these collections for the dignity of human beings;
Determined to further progress in the management of these collections;
The AFRICOM Constituent Assembly recommends that:
AFRICOM develop an urgent action plan addressing:
  • national and institutional policies of its members in the management of human remains (skeletal, soft tissue and modified) and secret and sacred objects and art works,
  • inventories of human remains and secret and sacred objects in both African and other countries,
  • international cooperation and advocacy to repatriate the human remains and secret and sacred objects.
Proposed Action: AFRICOM through ICOM, the OAU, the UN and the concerned countries develop a priority policy and code of ethical practice to address the management and repatriation of African human remains, secret and sacred objects.

Updated: 6 June 2005