The 2001 Convention is disseminated in Ecuador
The coastal city of Manta hosted the International Seminar on Underwater Archeology: Approaches and Perspectives, last October 24-26. The event was attended by Ecuadorian archeologists, historians and restoration experts who exchanged experiences on finds and research works with outstanding international specialists like Xavier Nieto, director of the Spanish National Museum of Underwater Archeology (ARQUA); Laura Carrillo, of the Underwater Archeology Department at the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH); Dolores Elkin, of the Argentinean Underwater Archeology Programme; María Catalina García and Martín Andrade, of the Colombian Erigaia Foundation, as well as Tatiana Villegas, a specialist in this area, in charge of promoting the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, at the Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Tatiana Villegas participated in the opening ceremony together with Dr. María Belén Moncayo, Deputy-Minister of the Heritage Ministry; Inés Pazmiño, Executive Director of the National Culture Heritage Institute (INPC); Fernando Cornejo, Under-Secretary for Scientific Research at SENESCYT; and Alberto Paz Zambrano, INPC Director for Region 4.
The UNESCO representative introduced this important policy instrument which addresses the concerns expressed by UNESCO Member States at the increased looting and destruction of this particular heritage. The 2001 Convention makes it possible to apply an integrated approach to this heritage, while promoting protection measures and policies for participatory, inclusive management and research. She emphasized that in situ preservation is a logical procedure and a basic principle to deal with various risks at underwater sites whenever a scientific approach is not applied to interventions. Tatiana Villegas highlighted the critical importance of in situ protection as the first option that should be implemented under protection programmes. She added that this protection generates a number of benefits, and also referred to the methods that can be used for effective implementation. This option shows a responsibility for the appropriate protection of this heritage, whose preservation conditions are often better than those seen in land areas. She clarified that the Convention provides for scientifically based site excavation only when it aims to make a significant contribution to the protection and/or knowledge of the underwater cultural heritage. She added that the Convention promotes non-intrusive access to heritage sites for the enjoyment of the general public, as an incentive to tourist (diving) development, and for underwater routes.