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The (Moroccan) National Human Rights Council (CNDH) organized, on 16 and 17 December 2011, an international symposium on “History, memory and Saharan heritage: research, preservation and musealization". This gathering meant to advocate for the preservation of memory and the archive of the Saharan Morocco.

During this two-day symposium, renowned historians, anthropologists, academics and other experts debated and shared their experiences, knowledge and the conclusions of their studies on the rich cultural tangible and intangible heritage and “hidden treasures” of this region. This wealth needs to be valued and exploited according to the recommended rules and should, in some cases, be recovered mainly from Europe and Africa.

A lot of to be done in this regard, but CNDH and its partners intend to spare no efforts to achieve this mission. Indeed, the National Human Rights Council, OCP Group (Moroccan national phosphates company), the Agency for Promotion and Economic and Social Development of the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom and the University of Mohammed V-Agdal’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities in Rabat committed themselves, as a first step, to create a museum in Dakhla and a center for Saharan studies and researches. They officially made this commitment during the aforesaid symposium. Agreements for these two major projects will be signed shortly. The construction works will be launched soon. In addition, the Master of contemporary history, launched a little while ago, will help provide the specialized and skilled human resources for both the Centre and research in Dakhla and the region.

Speaking at the end of the symposium, Mr. Driss El Yazami, CNDH president, said that this international gathering “is not a seasonal activity”. It was held, as he explained, in line with the implementation of the Equity and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations related to the preservation of memory archive and history. Since 2006, several achievements have been made in this regard, including the promulgation of the archives law, the creation of the institution of "Archives of Morocco," which will soon launch the first inventory of Moroccan archives in order to assess the state of these archives, the creation of a master’s degree on contemporary history and the creation of the Moroccan Institute of Contemporary History, which will open in 2012. After the publication of dozens of books, the Council will re-edit some thirty books and six fiction films that dealt with the theme of serious human rights violations.

On the sidelines of the symposium, whose proceedings will be published shortly, a fervent tribute was paid to Mr. Pierre Bonte, Director of Research Emeritus at the CNRS in France and a member of the College de France’s Laboratory of Social Anthropology in Paris. Moroccan academics, who worked closely with this specialist in the world of Baydân and Touareg, seized this opportunity to highlight the importance of his works and his qualities that have enabled students to advance research in this area. Mr. Bonte announced on this occasion that he will release very soon his last publication on the Sakia Al Hamra.

The symposium was organized in partnership with the Agency for Promotion and Economic and Social Development of the Southern Provinces of the Kingdom, the Region and Wilaya of Oued Eddahab-Lagouira, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in Rabat (University of Mohammed V-Agdal) and the Moroccan national phosphates company (OCP Group).

The participants of this international gathering visited a small museum in the city, initiated by the mentioned agency. As pointed out by Mr. Ahmed Hajji, General Director of the Agency, visiting this museum is a journey to the heart of Saharan Morocco to discover the rich culture and heritage of the region.