(NATCOM)Basseterre, 10 November, 2016: The National Commission for UNESCO in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Cluster Office in Jamaica has made a giant leap in its advancement of the preservation of heritage sites in the Federation as it culminated a two-day capacity building workshop at the Ocean Terrace Inn on Wednesday, November 09.

The workshop, which was birthed out of a request by the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society for assistance with the monitoring and preservation of the World Heritage Site, resulted in the activity which saw four International preservation specialists on site to share their expertise.

General Manager of the Brimstone Hill Society, Percy Hanley, expressed gratitude to UNESCO for the intervention and explained that the benefits would go beyond his society. “The fact that so many of you are here from other organizations shows that we are not just interested in building capacity within Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society but also have opened it up to other stakeholders who might benefit from participation in the exercise.”

Dr. Reginald Murphy, Director of Heritage and Archeology and Chair of the World Heritage Committee of Antigua, came to the event well versed in the process of Inscription for World Heritage Sites, having recently received UNESCO’s inscription of the Antigua Naval Dock Yard and Related Archaeological Sites. Dr. Murphy shared his experience with participants hoping that they would use what they gleaned to be able to advance their own submissions in the future. “It takes on average a minimum of five years; Ten (years) I will say is more realistic (process of inscription as World Heritage Site).

He reported how the process was lengthy and challenging and in his case found him in Turkey during the uprisings of 2013 but in the end he was successful having used graduate students and grass roots youth to assist him in the process.

Dr. Milagros Flores Roman, President of the International Scientific Committee of ICOMOS on Fortifications and Military Heritage, highlighted the fact that while she is associated with ICOMOS, her recognition by UNESCO as an expert on fortifications is what qualified her to make a significant contribution to the event.

Deputy Prime Minster and Chairperson of the National Commission for UNESCO, Hon Shawn Richards, applauded UNESCO for its assistance. “I acknowledge with interest the high caliber of World Heritage experts who will not only participate in this workshop but also assist us in the monitoring and implementation of proposed conservation measures for Brimstone Hill and other historic sites in St. Kitts and Nevis in order to prevent further structural damage to and the gradual process of decay of our local heritage properties.”

The Minister added that he anticipated the recognition of other sites of outstanding international value in the Federation and noted specifically the intention to inscribe additional properties including the City of Charlestown (Nevis) and Charles Fort (Sandy Point, St. Kitts) on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“The entire population of St. Kitts and Nevis has a sacred responsibility to protect them (heritage sites) at all costs.” The Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Minister responsible for Education, Youth and Culture stated the seriousness of his entire cabinet in heritage preservation with a recent decision to, “expand the Citizenship by Investment Programme to provide an option for persons willing to invest in cultural and heritage initiatives.”

He stated additionally that the work by UNESCO extends across its cultural mandate; cutting deep through its various cultural Conventions within its member states and countries in the Caribbean where the virtues of these Conventions are not yet fully recognized or operational. He stated categorically that the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has long since recognized UNESCO’s comparative advantage in the field of Culture as it ratified the 1972 World Heritage and the 2001 Underwater Heritage Conventions. He noted additionally the recent ratification of the 2003 and 2005 Cultural Conventions.

President of the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society, Sir Probyn Inniss, who delivered the featured address’ chose to focus on how the Heritage Site can be more relevant in the process of nation building. The president emphasized the importance of educating youth about their history. “We need to eradicate some of the negatives that have been sown in our minds…because unless we do that we will never be empowered to develop our fullest potential as human beings.” He added that in order for the sites to have meaning youths must be made aware of the work, skills, spirituality and strength of their ancestors as evidenced in their contribution to the building of sites such as Brimstone Hill.

Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO Antonio Maynard stated that his office was happy to host all the International Heritage Specialists including Arthur Reginald, Director of the Heritage and Archaeology, Cahir of World Heritage Committee and National Parks (Antigua) and Staci Marie Dehaney, Curator at the Jamaican Defense Force.

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