Manama – Kingdom of Bahrain, June 25th, 2018
In the margins of the 5th International Civil Society Forum on World Heritage which was organized by the World Heritage Watch (WHW), and took place in Manama 2018, and at the kind invitation of Dr. Essa Amin and Dr. Abdul Aziz Ali Sweileh, the representatives of the Bahrain Historical & Archaeological Society, a number of civil society representatives from Bahrain, Iraq, Egypt and Libya met and discussed the establishment of a non-formal permanent Arab Coordination Group within World Heritage Watch.
The purpose of World Heritage Watch (WHW) is to promote the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, culture and education. In its work, the Organization focuses on the promotion of the World Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
WHW also supports civil society groups which are concerned with world heritage issues. WHW is an independent global space, in which, these groups meet periodically prior to the annual session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The civil society studies and discusses the status of the world sites in the UNESCO World Heritage List, those are on the tentative list, and those are in danger.
The representatives of the civil societies in the Arab countries who attended the meeting are: Dr. Essa Amin and Dr. Abdul Aziz Ali Sweileh from Bahrain, Dr. Ismaeel Dawood from Iraq, Dr. Eman Shokry Hesham from Egypt, and Dr. Lamees BenSaad from Libya.
This following synopsis is what was discussed and agreed upon as the main objectives of the representatives of the Arab Co-ordination Group, within the framework of the civil society forum concerned with the issue of world heritage organized by WHW.
Objectives of the Arab Co-ordination Group
The participants discussed a number of objectives:
- Due to the resemblance of the social and cultural aspects in the Arab countries, and the danger the heritage properties in these countries are currently facing, the civil societies play a great role to protect such heritage properties, for such an objective, this group develops and puts forward resolutions at the WHW Civil Society Forum: Co-operation between Arab civil society organizations has become necessary to address issues related to heritage sites collectively in the forum meetings;
- The Arab group encourages and acknowledges the necessity of co-operation between representatives of NGOs and civil society groups in the Arab countries and urges them to join this international forum to exchange experiences among civil society organizations in different Arab countries in the field of protection of natural and cultural heritage sites;
- The Arab group seeks the involvement of local communities especially the youth in the protection of cultural and natural heritage in the Arab countries, and enacts to raise their awareness about the importance of their participation;
- The Arab group looks forward to an ongoing and sustainable processes of capacity building and raising awareness about the importance of the protection of the cultural and natural heritage;
- The Arab group ensures the coordination among members of civil society in the various Arab countries and ensures their voice to be heard by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, the Advisory Bodies and other State Parties within WHW. Hence, the Arab group ensures putting forward well-studied resolutions that represent the civil society’s point of view about the demands to protect the heritage properties in the Arab world;
- The Arab group affirms that it is an open and welcoming forum for all civil society groups from the Arab world, that are concerned with the protection of cultural heritage in their respected countries. It the Arab group’s role to coordinate and merge their efforts within WHW.
- Essa Amin, Bahrain Historical and Archaeological Society, Bahrain
- Abdul Aziz Ali Sweileh, Bahrain Historical and Archaeological Society, Bahrain
- Ismaeel Dawood, Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign, Iraq
- Eman Shokry Hesham, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Egypt
- Lamees BenSaad, Tripolitiana Society, Libya