A concept study took place at the Municipal ‘Centre Culturel’ in the city of Byblos (Lebanon) from 25th to 28th October 2011 within the framework of War Free World Heritage Listed Cities project.
The main purpose of this activity was to conduct an assessment of the existing factors of threat to this listed urban heritage site that were recently at risk from armed conflict, establishing good practice for the Heritage City and Site’s Management in areas threatened by armed conflicts and promoting widespread awareness of the risk facing the WHL (World Heritage Listed) cities.
This activity represents a crucial moment of the project when the current situation on the ground was analyzed and recorded through experts’ ground survey and desk review. Around 30 civil and military experts’ with different backgrounds from national and international organizations, representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Finance and the Byblos Municipality gathered to reconcile Urban planning in World Heritage Listed urban sites vis-a-vis Humanitarian law and the (1954) Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the event of Armed Conflict and especially the provisions of its Second Protocol (1999 HP), in order to create a Risk preparedness plan for the city of Byblos. The Second Protocol of the Convention must still be ratified by the Lebanese concerned authorities .
The activity was developed during 4 days: day 1 was dedicated to the presentation to the public and launching of the concept study and to the start of the ground survey on the monumental and archaeological sites of Byblos, day 2 and 3 experts divided in 4 thematic groups, as all the activities were designed to be implemented through plenary sessions, thematic groups and individual contributions, day 4 was dedicated to the conclusions, the 4 different thematic groups (TG 1,2,3,4) presented the results achieved in their area of study in order to produce concrete, practical and exhaustive documentation including a wealth of information, records and sufficient evidence:
- -Thematic group / urban planning and heritage protection (TG1) mapped the application of the Convention, its Protocols and especially the implementation of the 1999 HP Guidelines to the concrete situation existing on the ground in Byblos, highlighting criticalities emerged in several areas that could interfere with the application of the Convention. Special attention was given to the conflicts between the current legislative and local urban regulatory framework (Land use, Master plan, Zoning, etc) and the criteria set for the application of the Hague Convention within the protected heritage areas and an immediately surrounding buffer zone;
- -Civil Military Cooperation affairs (TG2) outlined the Civil Military Relation – with domestic /or alien (hostile) – armed forces in war time. The principles for concrete application in the case of preventive policies and in war theatre during armed conflict and logistics for heritage protection as well as the criteria to be for the mobilization of local civil society and interventions on Cultural Heritage sites in times of armed conflicts, considering the Red Cross and the Blue Shield – provisions for national – international cultural operators in areas of conflicts according to the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention;
- -Movable Heritage Logistics / Location / Relocation / Responsibilities and Legal provisions (TG3) dealt with movable heritage in state of military occupation in times of war, introducing examples and methodology of transport and temporary relocation, behavioural schemes/protocols for civil officers and assigned people to protect cultural heritage under preventive defined and agreed upon responsibilities; introducing logistics and preparatory measures to adopt for relocation of heritage under the provisions of the Hague Convention;
- -Juridical assessment/ audit matching HP 1999 w/Local practice (TG4) outlined measures to adopt an appropriate legislation to make the violations to the Second Protocol criminal offences under national law, defining the responsibilities of the State under international law, criminal responsibilities, jurisdiction and the procedures for granting enhanced protection. Rules to adopt for an appropriate legislation to make the violations to the Second Protocol criminal offences under national law.