The State Cooperation System

The 2001 Convention contains a detailed and practical international cooperation scheme for its State Parties.

It provides a solution to protect underwater cultural heritage in all maritime zones while fully respecting existing international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The International Cooperation Scheme for sites located in the EEZ, on the Continental Shelf and in the Area*:

General remarks:

  • The 2001 Convention does not change the limitations of maritime zones, the existing ones applying as regulated by international law.
  • The 2001 Convention also does not regulate the ownership of concerned cultural property.

In the Exclusive Economic Zone, on the Continental Shelf and in the Area, States have only a very limited jurisdiction and sovereignty. In the Area (i.e. the seabed outside national jurisdiction) they generally have no jurisdiction except over their own vessels and nationals.

Respecting this, the 2001 Convention establishes provisions for an international cooperation scheme for sites located on the seabed seawards from the Territorial Sea of its State Parties.

Main Achievements and Basic Features:

  • Each State Party will adopt domestic legislation to ensure that its own nationals and vessels do not engage in any activity directed at underwater cultural heritage in a manner not in conformity with the 2001 Convention;
  • Each State Party will require its nationals and vessels to report discoveries and activities concerning underwater cultural heritage located in the Exclusive Economic Zone, on the Continental Shelf and in the Area and inform the other States Parties accordingly;
  • In general, a “Coordinating State” takes over the control of the site, coordinating the cooperation and consultation among States Parties and implementing their decisions, while acting on behalf of all interested States Parties and not in its own interest;
  • States Parties will take measures to prevent the dealing in underwater cultural heritage illicitly exported and/or recovered and seize it, if it is found in their territory.

Remark: No obligatory and detailed reporting or coordination scheme is foreseen for the Zone of a Territorial Sea, as those waters fall within exclusive State jurisdiction. States Parties should, however, cooperate with each other according to Article 2.2 of the Convention.

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