Experts discuss underwater cultural heritage

Paris- France (PANA) -- Experts of UNESCO's member countries, who on Monday resumed discussions in Paris on the Convention for Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, said they expect to reach a consensus on the issue by the end of deliberations 7 July.
A final consensus by the nearly 100 government experts attending the meeting would be presented to the upcoming UNESCO general conference in autumn.
A similar meeting in March failed to reach a consensus on several issues notably on warship wrecks and the jurisdiction of coastal states on the underwater cultural heritage situated beyond their territorial waters.
The UN division of Maritime affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organisation, the International Centre for the study of conservation and restoration of cultural properties plus the International Council of Museums have experts at the meeting.
Representatives from the International Council of Monuments and Sites, the International Union of Nature Conservation and the Confederation of Subaquatic Activities are also attending the meeting along with NGOs involved in Marine affairs.
Once adopted, UNESCO said the Convention would protect underwater cultural heritage including sites and archaeological heritage, which have become increasingly threatened from pillaging by well-equipped treasure hunters.
"Very often such pillaging has resulted in the loss of extremely valuable material which could be used for the study of the origins and history of civilisations," UNESCO observed.
It noted that presently, underwater cultural heritage lacked an appropriate universally recognised legal instrument of protection, hence the importance of the government experts meeting expected to lay the foundation for such an instrument.
UNESCO points out that the existing UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982 does not adequately cover the protection of heritage.
Any consensus from the experts would be a reconciliation of various aspects on the matter since three similar meetings have made a considerable progress on the issue.

02 july 2001 21:39:00

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