The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage provides a clear framework in international law for better protecting UCH. The Convention came into force in 2009 and almost 60 states have now ratified.
The HFF Steering Committee on UCH promotes ratification and implementation of the 2001 UNESCO Convention because it offers the best available means of improving the protection of UCH internationally, including in the eastern Mediterranean. The Convention sets out the principles for protecting UCH, provides greater clarity in the respective rights and responsibilities of states towards UCH in different maritime zones, and provides a framework for co-operation between states. The Convention has also given rise to institutions and guidance that provide practical support to countries protecting UCH.
The Steering Committee believes that international protection of UCH will be considerably strengthened if the UK ratifies the 2001 UNESCO Convention. By ratifying, the UK will also gain major benefits: protecting shipwrecks around the world in which the UK has an interest; and enhancing the UK’s leading role in underwater archaeology.