Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites on the Way to World Heritage: To Ratify the 2001 Convention or not to Ratify?
Sorna Khakzad

After several years of discussion and study, for the purpose of the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, UNESCO has adopted a Convention in 2001 (hereafter the 2001 Convention). According to the 2001 convention, Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH) is: “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.”A convention is an agreement concluded among States in written form and governed by international law. It imposes agreed binding legal obligations on its Parties. Considering the fact that the more countries join the convention, the stronger it becomes and at a certain point in can become common practice, UNESCO Secretariat tries to encourage more countries to join the 2001 Convention. However ratification of the 2001 convention goes slowly. This research will present the efforts that are being done more recently in 2013 to motivate countries to ratify the convention. In addition, this study will analyze the benefits of ratification in terms of its effectiveness in promoting underwater archaeological practices. This paper has a focus on the practicality of the convention in promoting good practices rather than its legal rules and benefits. This study has benefited from direct observation of UNESCO activities, and the analysis of several initiatives, as well as a survey, conducted by the author,of underwater archaeology experts and fieldworkers.

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