Director-General of UNESCO for Culture
ne of UNESCO's principal tasks is defined in its Constitution as being to "maintain, increase and diffuse knowledge by assuring the conservation and protection of the world's inheritance of books, works of art and monuments of history and science."
The gap between the scope of that objective and the limited means available for conservation of world heritage is huge. International efforts to involve the universities in voluntary work for the benefit of the cultural heritage, under the guidance and supervision of professionals, play an important part in bridging that gap.
The participating universities in the international Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage in Valencia in 1996, Quebec in 1997, Melbourne in 1998 and Fez in 1999 illustrated through concrete actions their commitment towards Cultural Heritage, both tangible and intangible, at the national and international levels. The universities confirmed their solidarity based upon the sharing of knowledge and know-how.
By joining forces to co-operate on joint projects for the protection of heritage, both tangible and intangible, universities, professors and students, can play a central role, giving impetus to the forces of development of the network's objectives. Action by young people in favour of their cultural heritage helps them to build a new code of ethics as regards management of the environment. The contact they have with specialists and practitioners in the relevant disciplines is also highly beneficial. Their involvement in heritage projects nurtures a stronger feeling of unity: they can see the Earth in its cultural diversity, as a single heritage, to preserve and pass on together.
This fifth international seminar of Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage in Byblos, city of the World Heritage, will certainly confirm and reinforce the ethics, the commitment and the dynamism of this network.
Assistant Director-General of UNESCO
President of the Lebanese American University
he organization of the Fifth International Seminar of Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage in Lebanon has more than one point of strength. Lebanon is centrally located between East and West and therefore convenient to participants from all over the world. Also due to this central geographical location, Lebanon has developed throughout history as a depository of many civilizations and their great heritage. In addition, hosting this conference at the Lebanese American University in its continuing expansion and development of international relations brings for us additional reasons to welcome you in our two campuses in Beirut and Byblos.
Being at the crossroads of civilizations, cultures and religions, Lebanon continues to play a role as a focal point of historic, political, economic and social developments. As a result, this small country has become famous as a place of cultural exchange and tolerance, and as a museum of various pieces of world heritage. After the Fourth International Seminar at the Al Akhawayn University of Ifrane, Morocco, which worked to develop the North-South exchange, this meeting will complement it by also developing the East-West exchange. The Lebanese American University shall do its best to strengthen the international links that were created in the previous forums, from the particularly well suited historic cities of Beirut and Byblos. We hope that such links will improve human relations through the appreciation and acceptance of the differences in others and thus contribute greatly to global understanding and the preservation of the different heritages and cultures.
On behalf of the Lebanese American University, I would like to welcome all participants and hope that the lessons we learn from history will help us in developing a better future.
Riyad F. Nassar
Lebanese American University
Mayor of Byblos-Jbeil, President of the Federation of Municipalities of the Caza of Jbeil
yblos is the oldest continuously inhabited port city in the world. Even in the minds of the Ancients, Byblos was considered to have existed since the beginning of time. Philo of Byblos (second century AD) wrote:
"Kronos (El) put a wall about this
habitation and founded Byblos of
Phoenicia, the first city" "
During several millennia, Byblos served as a crossroads where different civilizations and peoples met and merged.
A vital link straddling the thoroughfares of Antiquity, from East to West, Byblos benefited throughout the centuries from the different cultural trends that came across this land. Caravans of merchants, scholars and philosophers all passed through the gates of this city. The result was that Byblos came to signify a place of meeting since ancient times.
This is a main reason why Byblos has been chosen to host this Forum of UNESCO- University and Heritage, in November 2000, at the threshold of a new Millennium.
On this occasion, and as the Mayor of Byblos-Jbeil, I would like to welcome you to this historic city, hoping that the classification of Byblos on the list of World Heritage sites would serve to reinforce its role as a place of meeting of different cultures and as a common heritage for humanity. We hope that this city will remain a focal point where international institutions will continue to show their interest and support in promoting and protecting the heritage of humanity.
Mayor of Byblos-Jbeil
President of the Federation of Municipalities of the Caza of Jbeil