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The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: advantages and challenges


  • Ulrike Koschtial

    1. Ulrike Koschtial is an assistant programme specialist in the Museum and Cultural Objects Section of UNESCO, in charge of the 2001 Convention. A trained lawyer, she is the author of several publications on intellectual property law and cultural heritage protection, in particular the UNESCO 2001 Convention, as well as a book on the legal protection of industrial design.
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The article explains the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which was elaborated to fight the increasing looting and destruction of such heritage. The Convention binds sovereign States that become party to it. Without changing States’ sovereignty rights or regulating the ownership of shipwrecks or submerged ruins it tries to obtain comprehensive protection for underwater cultural heritage wherever it is located and to harmonize its protection with that of cultural heritage on land. The Convention comes into force on 2 January 2009 – this is therefore an ideal moment to explain its content and its importance for the development of underwater archaeology and related museums.