01.03.2017 - Culture Sector

Bolivia ratifies the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

© Christophe Delaere / Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)The Titicaca Lake contains important underwater cultural heritage that tell us about its rich history and its direct link to its inhabitants

The Permanent Delegation of Bolivia to UNESCO has submitted last February the instruments of ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This ratification is an important step forward in the protection of the submerged heritage in South America.

Bolivia is the nineteenth country in Latin America and the Caribbean to ratify the Convention. It is in fact the second Latin American landlocked country to become party to it.

Recent discoveries are showing the importance of Bolivian underwater archaeological sites in the Titicaca Lake for understanding the life of Andean communities througout history. Of special importance are the remains linked to the Tiwanaku period (2nd century B.C to the 13th century A.D.), whose main cultural centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage is the international community’s response to the destruction of submerged archaeological sites by commercial treasure-hunters, and certain industrial activities. The Convention also reflects the growing recognition of the need to ensure the same protection to underwater cultural heritage as that already accorded to land-based heritage. It is designed to strengthen legal protection, cooperation, awareness-raising and capacity-building.

The 2001 Convention has been already ratified by 56 States Parties while many others are preparing to do so as the acknowledgement and concern about the protection of submerged archaeological sites grow among UNESCO Member States.

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