Underwater heritage convention ratified by five StatesFive States (Panama, Bulgaria, Croatia, Spain, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) have now ratified the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in october 2001.
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura welcomed the ratifications, which he hoped “would encourage other States to follow suit on this Convention which presents a real interest for this particularly vulnerable cultural heritage.”
“This is good news,” Mr Matsuura added “for all those who are justifiably concerned by the threats weighing on underwater sites and wrecks, which are poorly protected. Exploration techniques have made the sea bed more accessible than ever and the pillage of these sites is constantly increasing.”
The Convention, which completes UNESCO’s normative instruments covering tangible cultural heritage, seeks to protect “all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character which have been partially or totally underwater, periodically or continuously, for at least 100 years.” The Convention notably gives priority to the preservation in situ of underwater cultural heritage and prohibits its commercial exploitation.
The Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force once it has been ratified by 20 States.