Finally, I have arrived! Whilst the past few days have been an absolute whirlwind, it is an honor to say that I am part of an amazing group of New Zealand delegates who are equally as eager as I am to learn everything about international law, UN processes and of course… culture and heritage.
Recently I just submitted a 15,000 word assessment as part of my Masters in Law; where I was challenged to utilize the international framework in an effort to protect culture and heritage within the context of Tonga. Whilst the context of my essay was different, conceptually, a lot of the principles are applicable universally. For instance, a common theme within these sessions has been the question of protecting culture and heritage through the protection of particular sites, I argued the same to be true within the context of Tonga, and it has been riveting to see my interest pan out within this conference.
As I sit within these plenary sessions, I hear and see how proud each nation is with regard to their sites, some are being examined as an endangered heritage site, whilst others like the Parc National de la Comoe (Cote d’lvoire) are removed as an endangered site for reasons including; proactive mechanisms that were implemented to mitigate further effects on the said heritage site. The national pride that was demonstrated as a result of their efforts was heartwarming and triggered various questions within me.
Since arriving in Poland, I have become more and more ambitious in seeking more proactive representation of Pacific Island heritage sites. It confuses me that countries with such beautiful but equally threatened lands and cultures are not doing more for their nations. I understand the political, economic and even social aspects that are triggered with such contention, but until these concepts are explored, island nations will continue to be left in the shadows with regards to events such as this.
One thing I know to be true, is that the cultural makeup of a society is more often than not, intricately connected between people, land and heritage. With this being said, it is up to relevant leaders of unrepresented nations to protect this. As the conference continues, I go between feeling encouraged and disillusioned quite frequently, however I find solace knowing that I am learning, participating and absolutely motivated to utilize my experience for more action in the future.
I am excited for the coming days; and even more excited to be exposed to the negotiations that take place at this level.
All posts by Institute delegates reflect their own thoughts, opinions and experiences.