United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General hails 50th Anniversary of the International Campaign to save the monuments of Nubia

A UNESCO International Conference entitled “Lower Nubia: Revisiting the Past, Envisaging the Future” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the appeal by Egypt and Sudan to save the monuments of Nubia is taking place at the Aswan Nubia Museum in Aswan (Egypt) from 21-24 March 2009.

This conference, organized by UNESCO’s office in Cairo in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and the Sudanese Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport brings together some 150 high-level officials and experts, many of whom participated in the Safeguarding Campaign. In addition to evaluating the campaign, it will focus on the tangible and intangible heritage of the Lower Nubia Region.

In his message to participants, the Director-General of UNESCO Mr Koïchiro Matsuura recalled “the very real achievements of the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia – the spectacular dismantling and relocating of Abu Simbel, the safeguarding of Philae and numerous other temples, and the countless artefacts saved from the waters of the Nile…” noting that the first international safeguarding campaign launched by UNESCO was “unanimously recognized as an unprecedented technical feat of a scale that has yet to be equalled.”

Continuing, the Director-General underscored the highly symbolic importance of the campaign noting that it was “a moving demonstration of the miracles that can be achieved by international cooperation. Saving the temples and artefacts of Nubia became an urgent priority transcending national interests and pride, and, as we all know, the international community brilliantly rose to that challenge. Need it be further stressed that such international solidarity is more than ever timely in the current period of global, financial, environmental and social crisis……UNESCO’s appeal to save the truly outstanding vestiges of one of the world’s richest and oldest civilizations made people all over the planet appreciate the universal dimension of cultural heritage. In this regard, this campaign is unique in so far as it paved the way for the key notion of common heritage of humankind, which underpins the 1972 World Heritage Convention. And we are all aware of the tremendous impact of the famous World Heritage List, which now includes 878 sites around the world. Such is the enduring legacy of this great campaign.”

“Although the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia officially ended in 1980, UNESCO is proud to pursue its collaboration with the Governments of Egypt and Sudan in the field of culture heritage to the present day”, declared Mr Matsuura. He went on to note that joint projects already achieved include the Nubia Museum in Aswan and the improvement of the National Museum in Khartoum. The Director-General also assured participants that UNESCO is closely following the construction of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 045-2009 -  Publication Date: 24-03-2009

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