French Group Urges Protection of Artifacts

The Francophony International Organization must get involved in the safeguarding of historical artwork and monuments that are being looted worldwide, Chika Dembele of Mali, an organization member, said Monday.

A commission of the Franco­phony International Organization, which is comprised of 55 states and governments that share French language and heritage, is meeting in Phnom Penh this week to discuss, among other topics, the pillaging of artifacts.

Parliamentarians from 21 governments throughout the world are holding a session of the Education, Communication and Cultural Affairs Commission, which is part of the organization’s Parliamentary Assembly.

“In Africa, the patrimony is being plundered and [artifacts] end up in world powers,” Dem­bele said.

Cambodia has also been fighting to stop the international trafficking in sculptures, which are often taken off its monuments.

For Cambodia, hosting such a con­ference is a matter of cooperation and solidarity, said Nuth Narang, a Cambodian parliamentarian and president of CEDO­RECK, the documentation and research center on Khmer civilization.

The country is expanding its role on the international scene, he said. It now is part of Asean and, even if the French language is now used less in the country, it remains important for Cambodia to work with Franco­phone countries, Nuth Narang said.

Robert Louvin, a parliamentarian from Valle d’Aosta, Italy, and the commission’s president, said Monday that in these times of globalization, countries must come up with “strategies to en­able cultures to bloom.”

“We must create a new cultural order,” he said.

The panel also intends to discuss the teaching of French as a second language. “At all costs, one must avoid the misconception that the Francophony is hostile to national languages…and is hostile to the English language,” said Arthur Bodson, chairman of the organization’s Agen­ce Univer­sitaire de la Fran­co­phonie, the as­sociation of Fran­cophone universities that in­cludes about 400 members.

Teaching French as a second language, he said, “is a way to provide an additional opening onto the world” since French is an international language.






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