28.06.2017 - Culture Sector

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

View of the city and the emblematic Towers of Kuwait, symbol of modernity ©BsnSCB.com

This ratification is a crucial step forward in the protection of the submerged cultural heritage in the Persian Gulf

On the 30th of May, 2017, Kuwait ratified the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Kuwait is the fourth country in the Persian Gulf to have ratified the Convention, including Bahrain, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Persian Gulf, the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contain under its waters the testimonies of the dawn of civilization. It is known that numerous archaeological sites, key for the trade and maritime exchanges in the region, are to be yet found underwater.  Particularly noteworthy is Failaka Island, where underwater archaeological research has been carried out in the last years showing the potential of Kuwait’s underwater archaeological sites. At the same time, due to changes in sea level, many prehistorical sites, preserved under water, could still yield night information on the region’s past.  

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 pillage, commercial exploitation, unsustainable development, or unethical practices. 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, international cooperation, awareness-raising and capacity-building for underwater cultural heritage worldwide.

With this new ratification, 57 States are already party to the 2001 Convention while many others are preparing to join as the acknowledgement and concern about the safeguarding of submerged archaeological sites grow among UNESCO Member States.

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