05.04.2011 - Secretariat of the 2001 Convention

Caribbean Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage on 10/11 May 2011 in Kingston

© Ships of DiscoveryDr. Margaret Leshikar-Denton carefully mapping in a fire coral-encrusted carronade from the US Navy Brig Chippewa, wrecked in 1816 in the Turks & Caicos Islands, British Overseas Territories, United Kingdom.

The Caribbean Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage took place on 10 and 11 May 2011 in Kingston. During the Meeting participants had the opportunity to present and discuss the importance and pertinence of the 2001 Convention with the help of legal and archaeological experts. The Meeting is essential to promote ratification and create awareness of the existence of this heritage and of the urgent need to create legal frameworks for its protection. This Meeting is jointly organized by the UNESCO Offices in Havana and Kingston, the Jamaican National Commission and with the support of the Secretariat of the 2001 Convention.

In spite of its vast underwater cultural heritage due to its maritime history, the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries lack experts and national systems for its safeguarding. Thanks to the diving industry and technical developments in devices for detection and exploration of the seabed, this heritage, that was for centuries protected by its own environment, is now easily accessible to sport divers, fishermen and treasure hunting companies. This heritage runs the risk of disappearing due to irresponsible exploitation, lack of legal protective systems and of human resources capacitated in this particular field of archaeology, conservation and heritage management. The lack of resources available in the countries concerned, the failure to implement efficient cultural policies due to limited capacities is increasing the risk of this heritage to disappear.

A sustainable protection scheme can particularly be obtained through ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which will ensure the prevention of the pillage of submerged archaeological sites and the development of protection and preservation schemes for the sites, making it possible for tourists to visit them under supervised and pre-established conditions.

This regional consultation meeting aims at enhancing ratification of the 2001 Convention, at supporting the implementation of the provisions laid out in the 2001 Convention in the participating States Parties and at creating awareness in those countries that have not ratified.

Please contact Tatiana Villegas or Hema Gurung for more information. 


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