19.11.2019 - Culture Sector

Southeast Asia Ministries of Culture met to discuss the Safeguarding and Reviving the Shared Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage of Southeast Asia


UNESCO in partnership with ASEAN Secretariat and Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs convened a Forum of Southeast Asia Ministries of Culture on Underwater Cultural Heritage from 5 – 8 November 2019 to discuss the priorities and existing initiatives in the region in the area of underwater archaeology as well as promotion of maritime heritage at large, thereby identifying the opportunities for regional collaboration.

The first day of the forum took place in the Jakarta Maritime Museum, while the rest of the event took place in Belitung, where the Tang shipwreck was discovered, including the excursion on the last day. More than 30 participants including government officials, archaeologists, historians, and museum curator attended the forum.

The Forum provided a unique opportunity for ASEAN countries to discuss the potential of maritime heritage and discover about UNESCO’s legal instruments (2001 and 1970 Conventions) which combined together provide ideal protection on the maritime heritage.

The meeting also underlined that the protection of underwater heritage should be discussed as part of a larger international discussion on shared maritime heritage, which is becoming an important topic of cultural diplomacy in some countries in Asia and Europe. This approach will attract more attention and possibly more investment for otherwise unfamiliar topic of underwater archaeology.  The meeting also provided the opportunity to exchange ideas for international cooperation and acknowledge the need for capacity building in underwater archeology as well as narratives and measures to enhance the revitalization of this valuable heritage in the region.  

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