63rd session - 4 June 2002 - Paris, France
SESSION ON THE PROTECTION OF THE UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE
The aim of this session was to focus on the recently adopted UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (November 2001). This was the first of its kind organized by the Secretariat in conjunction with the Chairperson.
Three speakers were invited: Mr. Guido Carducci (Chief of the International Standards Section at UNESCO), Mr. Thijs Maarleveld (Member of the ICOMOS International Committee for Underwater Cultural Heritage) and Rear-Admiral Georges Prud'homme (Director of the National Maritime Museum in Paris, France)
The speakers addressed members intensively on the antecedents, and background to the creation of this Convention, the controversies and differing perspectives surrounding its approval and implementation. However, it was emphasized that despite Member States opposing stances on some aspects of the Convention itself there was universal acceptance for the technical rules set out in the Annex to the Convention and all countries committed themselves politically to their application, and that it was this part of the Convention which would have most relevance for museums.
It was noted that with the ratification of this Convention, rules affecting protection against illicit traffic could now be applied in this context. Concern was expressed that museums had been effectively excluded from the development of the Convention (and indeed had disappeared from the actual wording of the text), quite unlike the situation which occurred with the preparations to the second protocol of The Hague Convention. This would likely have implications for the work of museums, particularly with respect to acquisition, conservation, storage, and interpretation of this heritage to the public. It was resolved that ICOM should make every effort to ensure that this did not occur again in relation to other major conventions etc. affecting the cultural heritage. All of the invitees expressed their appreciation to ICOM's having provided them with the opportunity to address such an important forum and looked forward to working together with ICOM in the future.
ICOM President Jacques Perot responded to say that ICOM would welcome the opportunity to be involved in the second phase of activity with other partners.