02.02.2018 - Culture Sector

El Salvador looks into the protection of its underwater cultural heritage and the ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention

SS Douglas Shipwreck bieng surveyed off the El Salvador coast.

6 February 2018 – A national meeting on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage takes place in San Salvador (El Salvador).

The event is organised by UNESCO’s Regional Office in San José, the Secretariat of the Convention and the Directorate of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the El Salvador Ministry of Culture. The workshop focuses on the protection and research of underwater cultural heritage in the country and seeks to adopt a national action plan. It allows participants also to discuss the successes and implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in other countries in Central America.

The workshop involves several institutions, working with underwater cultural heritage. Invited are  the Permanent Delegation of El Salvador to UNESCO, the Port Unit, the General Directorate of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the Office of Cultural Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Justice, the Directorate of Cultural and Natural Heritage, Ministry of Tourism, Naval Force, Universities and Diving companies (Oceanic and El Salvador Divers).

This workshop is part of a series of several meetings organised by UNESCO in 2017 and 2018 in Central America aimed at raising awareness and ratification of the 2001 Convention. It is financed by the Spanish Agency for International development and Cooperation (AECID) and will take place in the Spanish Cultural Centre in San Salvador.

The workshop will be preceded on 5 February by the launch of the publication sponsored by UNESCO: “Patrimonio Cultural Marítimo de El Salvador - Registro de Pecios” (Maritime Cultural Heritage in El Salvador - Shipwrecks registry) at the Museo Nacional de Antropología Dr. David J. Guzmán, San Salvador. This book will be the first of its kind on underwater cultural heritage in El Salvador, and represents a significant contribution to the protection and further understanding of underwater cultural heritage in this region.

UNESCO believes in the preservation, study and protection of cultural heritage for the good of humanity. The UNESCO 2001 Convention is the tool by which the protection of cultural heritage in national and international waters may be improved. The Convention offers a legal framework, which introduces protection measures against the looting, illicit trafficking and commercial exploitation of underwater heritage, and promotes sustainable awareness raising and research at international scientific archaeological standards. 

The Central American waters are particularly rich in underwater cultural heritage, and provide significant insight into the early contacts between Europe and America. Understanding this heritage is crucial for furthering our knowledge about the economic and political pre-hispanic histories of the region.

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