UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

UNESCO Convention On The Protection Of The Underwater Cultural Heritage

UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

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Description:
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on 2 November 2001 (hereinafter the 2001 Convention) is an international treaty aimed at saving the underwater cultural heritage.

Background

Cultural heritage on land has in the last decades benefited from national and international protection. Nevertheless, the looting of underwater cultural heritage is increasing rapidly and it still remains largely unprotected. Due to improved diving technology, art markets and collectors along with treasure hunters turn more and more to objects coming from the seabed.

The cultural treasures in danger of pillaging and destruction are immense. Over three million undiscovered shipwrecks are estimated to be spread across the ocean floor. Remnants of ancient civilization, like the ruins of the Alexandria lighthouse in Egypt, and whole cities, such as Jamaica’s Port Royal, lay under the waves.

However many national laws do not adequately protect such heritage and wrecks or ruins located in international waters are even still entirely unprotected. A court case ensuing from the looting of Clive of India's Gold from the wreck of the Doddington set important precedents for the convention.

History

Since 1982 the important United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) codifies that its States Parties need to protect underwater cultural heritage under the term “archaeological and...
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