War Free World Heritage Listed Cities
The War Free World Heritage Listed Cities is a project within the framework of the EU ENPI CIUDAD (Cooperation in Urban Development and Dialogue). It is a partnership between the Council of the United Municipalities of Byblos (Lebanon) coordinated by Dr. Rachid Chamoun, Director of the LAU Louis Cardahi Foundation, and the Municipality of Mtskheta (Georgia), in collaboration with the World Association for the Protection of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in times of armed conflicts (WATCH), and relevant local and international ministries of culture both in Lebanon and Georgia.
The proposal for this project, made in 2009, stemmed from two opportunities, suggesting improved models of governance for world heritage sites embedded in historic core urban centers. First, the EU launched a call for proposals within the EU ENPI CIUDAD program allowing local authorities to participate in the administration of territories, based on their closer ties with residents and their proximity to the problems faced on the ground. Second, UNESCO circulated the first publication of draft Guidelines for the implementation of the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1999 HP).
Specific tasks related to the War Free World Heritage Listed Cities project included:
- Establishing good practices for Urban and Site Management in cities threatened by armed conflicts.
- Promoting widespread awareness of the risks facing WHL cities at threat of conflict.
- Preparing candidacy applications for Byblos and Mtskheta for enhanced protection from UNESCO.
As a result, the War Free World Heritage Listed Cities project started its operations in March 2009 with a grant from the European Union within the framework of the CIUDAD program.
Beneficiaries of the project were local authorities, including civil society organizations, NGOs, professional associations, Economic actors and enterprises, etc. in Lebanon and Georgia.
The partnership between the Council of the United Municipalities of Byblos, Lebanon, the Municipality of Mtskheta (Georgia) and WATCH, along with their associates, FOCUH (Friends of Cultural Heritage - Turkey), and NEREA (Network Restauro Avanzato - Italy) was created to start the project for Byblos and Mtskheta World Heritage Listed sites which are considered to be a priority for their intrinsic cultural values and for their important contribution to the improvement of the socio-economic conditions — especially for the local populations.
Thanks to the support received from local, national and international civil and military institutions, agencies, professional associations, civil society organizations and individual experts, a wealth of information and documentation has been collected and or produced about Byblos and Mtskheta world heritage sites and the urban contexts where they are located. A matrix of reference was developed according to the guidelines for the implementation of the 1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention in order to ascertain that any additional evidence or inputs needed to satisfy the requirements for Enhanced Protection have been included. These incorporated:
- Risk preparedness plans for two WHL cities.
- Candidacy for enhanced protection for two WHL cities.
- Widespread awareness of risks to WHL cities.
- Risk mitigation policies in place.
- Set of good practices for implementation of The Hague Convention guidelines.
Recently, Mtskheta has been granted the Enhanced Protection status, in the hope that Byblos will be granted the same status as soon as Lebanon signs the 1999 protocol, at the hands of the Ministry of Culture.
The total project budget was €540,740. A second round of financing yielded an additional €108,148 from participating partners.