06.09.2013 - Culture Sector

Ministers to meet on the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the Latin American and Caribbean region

© UNESCO, Diver in Chanhol Cave discovering skeletons

UNESCO and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture invite to a Regional Ministerial Meeting to take place in Lima, Peru on 16/17 October 2013. The high-level meeting will look into current issues of the protection and research of submerged heritage, but also evaluate its potentials for development, education and tourism.

The meeting will be a high-point after a series of eleven regional meetings, which were organized since 2002 and which gathered the region’s political leaders and scientific experts.  It acknowledges the steady increase of threats to underwater archaeological sites, especially through pillaging and commercial exploitation, but also the not yet used potential of underwater cultural heritage in terms of scientific research and recreational use. The meeting will help to create policies to apply better safeguarding strategies for this common heritage of humanity.

UNESCO organized over the last years a series of regional meetings for the Latin American and Caribbean region, namely in Kingston (2002), Bogotá (2004), Quito (2007), Saint Lucia (2008), Cozumel (2010), and again Kingston (2011). Training activities were provided to foster the development of underwater archaeology in the region in: Mexico (2010), Spain (2011), Cuba (2012), Jamaica (2012) and Argentine (2013).

It is now time to take the issue of the protection of submerged archaeological sites, their valorization for the public and the increase of their research to a higher level. The Regional Ministerial Meeting shall enable a high-level exchange of information amongst States with the help of presentations of international as well as UNESCO experts. It will also focus on the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which has been already ratified by 16 States of the region illustrating the attention given to this heritage on a political level. Another objective is the adoption of a common regional approach and action plan and a universal ratification of the Convention.

The agenda is organized in four sessions interrupted by ministerial round table discussions:

 

  1. Introduction,
  2. the UNESCO 2001 Convention and issues at question,
  3. Underwater cultural heritage in the Latin American and Caribbean States, 
  4. Underwater cultural heritage and chances for education and sustainable development.

The 2001 Convention on  the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage is the internationally leading treaty on underwater heritage. It contains ethics principles, a State Cooperation Mechanism and clear practical guidelines to prevent the pillaging of archaeological sites, as well as setting rules for dealing with them.

The meeting is financed by Spain, in a desire to enforce international cooperation in the protection of underwater cultural heritage.

Contact: Ulrike Guerin




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