08.12.2017 - Culture Sector

The Dominican Republic walking towards the ratification of the 2001 Convention


UNESCO and the Dominican Republic organized a National Workshop on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Santo Domingo on 7 December 2017 aiming to adopt a national action plan towards the ratification and implementation of the UNESCO 2001 Convention.

In the waters of the Caribbean region and particularly the Dominican Republic, the underwater cultural heritage is particularly rich. The heritage found here bears witness of the first contacts between Europe and America. For years, this heritage, so precious for its knowledge and as an element forming the national and cultural identities of the region, has been destroyed and threatened by the practice of treasure hunting, commercial exploitation and pillaging, despite the efforts of various social, academic and political actors committed to safeguarding heritage. For this reason, UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic organized a national workshop to look into the benefits and the national implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which will enable protection for the underwater heritage found not only within the national jurisdiction of States but also in international waters. 

The Meeting was opened by the Minister of Culture, H.E. Pedro Vergés, the Spanish Ambassador for the Dominican Republic, H.E. Alejandro Abellán García de Diego, the Director of Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, Ms Katherine Müller Marin, followed by a keynote speech by Ms Ulrike Guerin, responsible officer for the Secretariat of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage at UNESCO.

This workshop, aimed primarily at national authorities responsible for the ratification and implementation of the 2001 Convention, clarified the remaining doubts about its ratification and showed the benefits for other States in the region of its successful implementation. Two members of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) to the 2001 Convention facilitated the discussion on scientific issues and the responsible authorities showed a strong commitment to consider ratifying the 2001 Convention. 

The Meeting also explained that 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which have been ratified by 19 States in the LAC region, promotes the preservation, study and protection of the underwater cultural heritage of humanity. It remarked that it helps establishing protection measures against pillaging, illicit trafficking and commercial exploitation of the underwater heritage, as well as international scientific standards for activities directed at underwater archaeological remains.

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