Unesco has issued an open letter criticising a construction project based at the ancient archaeological site of Nahr El-Kalb, north east of Beirut in Lebanon. The site was placed on the “tentative list” for potential nomination to Unesco’s World Heritage roster but the decision by the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) political party to build their headquarters in the area, which dates back to the second-century BC, has drawn fire from Unesco director, Mechtild Rössler.
“The construction project at the archaeological site of Nahr El-Kalb could have a major impact on the site, and possibly jeopardise any future nomination for World Heritage inscription,” Rössler says in the Unesco letter.
This is a historic site in Lebanon overlooking the Mediterranean with ancient stelae from conquerors and colonial powers dating back to the Pharaohs. It was registered in the Unesco Memory of the World  in 2005 and was a contender to be a World Heritage site. But sadly construction began last August for the headquarters of a political party only a few metres away.”
Unesco World Heritage designations are intended to persuade countries to ensure the protection of natural or man-made sites considered to be of “outstanding value to humanity” under the treaty known as the World Heritage Convention, and the tally of sites internationally has now grown to 1,121.