Latin America and the Caribbean celebrates 20 years of the 2001 Convention with a strengthened underwater heritage

On November 2, 2021, UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage reached its 20th anniversary. As part of the celebrations in this region of the world, the International Seminar “Panorama on the management and administration of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean” takes place, which from today until November 24, 2021 is held in a virtual mode.
UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean in Havana and UNESCO Office in Quito and Representation for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, in collaboration with all UNESCO offices in the region, have organized this meeting with the aim of disseminating the various experiences, reflections and case studies related to the management and administration of this heritage at the level of Latin America and the Caribbean. The course is generously supported by the Maritime Program of the Heritage Agency under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Numerous have been the actions implemented by UNESCO in the region during these two decades for the protection of underwater cultural heritage, even before the approval of this legal instrument, including more than 70 training, awareness-raising and knowledge promotion activities on this important and fragile heritage both at national, sub-regional and regional level.
With the seminar that begins today, one of these activities concludes: UNESCO Regional Virtual Course on the Training Manual for the Foundation Course of UNESCO on the Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean, which since August 17 brings together nearly 80 students from 24 Member States, 11 of them from the Caribbean, and which had prestigious specialists and international experts, mostly from the Latin American and Caribbean region, in charge of teaching the different subjects.
The training included 11 learning modules, lasting one week each, which addressed the contents of different units of the Manual of UNESCO Foundation Course on the Protection and Management of Underwater Cultural Heritage, except for the eleventh, which focused on the collaborative design of archaeological research project proposals.

The Seminar that closes the course began today with the remarks of UNESCO Deputy Director of Culture, Mr. Ernesto Ottone, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Convention, followed by the welcoming words of the Coordinator of the Culture programme and Officer in Charge of UNESCO Regional Office for Culture, Tatiana Villegas; the Officer in Charge of UNESCO Office in Quito, Ana González Medina; and the Secretary General of the Externado de Colombia University, José Fernando Rubio.

During the first day of work, there were lectures and presentations that exposed the perspectives and challenges of the practice of Underwater Archeology, and for the effective implementation of 2001 Convention in the region, as well as the experiences developed to materialize it in the area in general, and in the Antillean Caribbean, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and Panama.

In the second day's sessions, the importance of UNESCO Foundation Course as a platform for training and the transmission of knowledge about this heritage will be addressed, and experiences will be shared on the management and administration of UCH in Argentina, Aruba, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Peru and Venezuela.

UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, over the past 20 years, has promoted strategies for the research and protection of the UCH by fostering international cooperation, sharing knowledge and promoting relevant scientific standards that are internationally recognized.

This UNESCO normative instrument and its Annex are recognized as the most important scientific standards for underwater archeology and provide a framework for the protection and management of submerged archaeological contexts. The Convention has already been ratified by 71 States, of which 21 are from the Latin American and Caribbean region, and currently has the support of a wide network of partners, including NGOs, universities and research centers, as well as national authorities, museums and other institutions.