About the SHA and ACUA UNESCO Committees

In 1999, the SHA established the UNESCO Committee to monitor negotiation of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. With its adoption at the 31st General Conference in 2001, the committee’s role changed to supporting its international ratification and implementation, and the adoption of its Annex as a “best practices” document, even in areas where ratification is unlikely. The Convention entered into force on 2 January 2009, and now additional emphasis is placed on facilitating training opportunities and public awareness.

The SHA and the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology (ACUA) received NGO accreditation with the Meeting of States Parties and are actively monitoring development of the Operational Guidelines. The SHA Committee cooperates with the ACUA, the ICOMOS International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH), and UNESCO to promote ethical and scientific underwater research worldwide, to endorse international standards, and to support training and capacity-building.

The ACUA UNESCO Committee was established to more directly address the needs and facilitate communications with the maritime community. Its mission is to promote the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, ensure the ACUA is an active NGO engaged with the Secretariat and other NGOs, and be an online resource for practitioners and the general public regarding the Convention.

The ACUA UNESCO Subcommittee’s goals in support of the Convention are:

  1. Create workshops, classes, panels, and discussions within the archaeological community that focus on the Convention and provide education.
  2. Create opportunities for other NGO members to participate at SHA or other international venues.
  3. Create and maintain the ACUA NGO re-accreditation package annually.
  4. Attend the annual STAB or States Parties meeting in Paris.
  5. Be the recognized resource for practitioners of underwater archaeology on the Convention.
  6. Liaise with the SHA UNESCO Committee to ensure cooperation.
  7. Maintain a UNESCO-specific web page that contains current information and links to other resources (such as Convention web pages, other NGO projects).

Letters from the SHA President to U.S. Federal Agencies in Support of the 2001 UNESCO Convention, Especially the Annex Rules

Among its initiatives, the SHA UNESCO Committee coordinated a letter-writing campaign, with letters sent under the SHA President’s signature in support of committee goals. Between 2006 and 2011 nine letters were sent to U.S. Federal Agencies suggesting that they incorporate the 2001 Convention Annex into their documents and guidelines, and all agencies sent favorable replies. Following are links to the letters and the replies received from US Federal Agencies: