The Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of Bahrain to UNESCO, Counsellor Husain Almahmood, has submitted the instruments of ratification of the UNESCO 2001Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage to the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, last March 2014. This ratification is an important step forward in the protection of the underwater cultural heritage in the Persian Gulf Region.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has ratified the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, responding to its commitment with the protection of all forms of cultural heritage expressed by its authorities in the UNESCO Sub-Regional Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (16 - 17 October 2012) hosted in the Bahrain city of Manama.
The recommendations of this meeting encouraged the prompt ratification of the 2001 Convention by all the Gulf States while harmonizing their national legislations. Other recommendation drafted by the participants (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen) endorsed the undertaking of comprehensive surveys of the underwater cultural resources of the region, the reinforcing of national capacities and the provision of appropriate human resources to adequately research and protect the submerged heritage.
The Persian Gulf is known for its rich and vast maritime history as its shores played an important role in the development of capital maritime trade routes that covered the whole Indian Ocean. Despite this recognized importance, the underwater cultural heritage in this region is still in danger since appropriate legal frameworks have still to be adopted.
Bahrain's ratification means an important precedent and step forward in the safeguarding of cultural heritage in the region. It is the response of an increasing concern and understanding of the need for protection for these specific traces of human past, and their catalytic role in present day societies. The Kingdom of Bahrain deposited the instruments of ratification the 7th of March 2014. The Convention shall enter into force in its territories in a period of three months from that date.
The UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage has been already ratified by 47 States Parties while many others are preparing to do so as the acknowledgement and concern towards the protection of submerged archaeological sites grow among UNESCO Member States.