Australia Meeting on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

The Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology is organizing a conference from 3 to 6 October 2013 at the Australian National University, Canberra, with the objective of encouraging the ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage by Australia.

Bearing in mind the rich underwater cultural heritage in Australia’s oceans and seas, ranging from submerged indigenous sites to numerous ancient shipwrecks, and the fact that Australia is considered as one of the prominent countries in the field of underwater archaeology, it is essential that Australia ratify the 2001 Convention to apply in future the international best practice for management of underwater cultural heritage. Australia’s ratification of the Convention would also be an inspiration for other countries with significant maritime and underwater cultural heritage in the Asian region to ratify the Convention and join the State Parties to protect and conserve this valuable heritage of the humanity under harmonized and widely recognized scientific standards.

The Conference themes highlight the variety and significance of Australia’s underwater heritage in Australian waters and overseas, and the significant positive value that Australia’s ratification would have in the region. In addition to providing important professional guidance for managing underwater cultural heritage, the Convention reconciles international maritime law with the principles of mutual respect. Considering the fact that Australia as large island has a lot of underwater heritage linking it especially also with the other countries in East Asia, and that this rich underwater cultural heritage has an immense potential for tourism development, adopting the harmonized system of the 2001 Convention will moreover help promoting public access, while protection is guaranteed.  

The three days conference will start with a workshop on the 2001 Convention, follows with an evening of open public lecture, and will continue with conference presentations which will provide an opportunity to exchange and disseminate information about underwater cultural heritage and underwater archaeology in Asia and especially Australia.