France ratifies the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage
The Ambassador of France to UNESCO, H. E. Mr Daniel Rondeau, has submitted today the instruments of the ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage to the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. This ratification is an important step in the development of the Convention. It illustrates the growing support by large maritime powers for this instrument and for the protection of the submerged heritage.
France has a long standing tradition in the field of underwater archaeological research, being one of the pioneering countries to develop scientific methodology for the discipline of underwater archaeology. With its ratification, France strengthens the application and implementation of widely recognized legal and scientific standards in the protection of the underwater cultural heritage. France’s expertise in the field will mean an increased support for the development of scientific and ethical capacities to the other States Parties of the 2001 Convention. It will also serve to increase cooperation in the prevention of the destruction of submerged heritage by pillaging and commercial exploitation.
Underwater cultural heritage refers to all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical or archaeological character, which have been partially or totally under water, periodically or continuously, for at least 100 years. The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on 2 November 2001. This landmark legal instrument is the international community’s response to the destruction of submerged archaeological sites by commercial treasure-hunters, and certain industrial activities. 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, cooperation, awareness-raising and capacity-building.
The 2001 Convention entered into force on 2 January 2009. It is the foremost international treaty concerning submerged heritage. The Convention is strongly supported by underwater archaeologists, who actively apply and enforce its regulations. France is the 42nd State to ratify it.