How and Why will Underwater Cultural Heritage Benefit from the 2001 Convention?


  • Thijs J. Maarleveld

    1. Thijs J. Maarleveld is a professor of maritime archaeology responsible for developing professional training for underwater archaeologists. As ICOMOS/ICUCH adviser and a representative of the Netherlands he was closely involved in negotiations for the 2001 Convention. As a researcher he employs archaeological analysis of ships as a way of understanding cultural entropy and change. He also researches bias in the archaeological record and the meaning of (underwater) heritage in present-day society including the ways in which this is expressed in law.
    Search for more papers by this author


The 2001 Convention benefits underwater cultural heritage in various ways: it takes into account the interests of sites and those of the parties concerned and shows that heritage, while fragile, is nevertheless manageable if its conservation, access and development answer to rules of good professional conduct. The Convention does not aim to prevent considerate action; on the contrary it supports areas of agreement for the sharing of information, stressing, in particular, that the protection of this heritage is the business of all, as it belongs to the whole of humanity. Underwater cultural heritage has already started to benefit from this legal instrument. The general philosophy that it articulates has begun to guide certain government decisions since its adoption in 2001, a process that will be extended to other States when the Convention is ratified and comes into force.