In general, the Convention seeks to protect underwater cultural heritage (“UCH”) by controlling activities that may directly or incidentally harm UCH, and authorizing activities directed at UCH only when done in accordance with professional archaeological standards and practices set forth in the Convention.
Underwater Cultural Heritage - all traces of human existence having a cultural, historical, or archaeological character which have been partially or totally underwater, periodically or continuously, for at least 100 years.
UCH includes sunken cities or structures, shipwrecks, human remains, shipwrecks, aircrafts, other types of vehicles, and prehistoric objects. The geographic scope of the Convention includes UCH located in all maritime zones, including beyond national jurisdiction.
The Convention, including the Rules, is considered by many nations, archaeologists, and legal experts to provide the minimum standards and requirements for protecting UCH.
The Convention is only binding to countries that have consented to be bound under the Convention (“State Parties”). Currently, there are only 63 State Parties.
For the Convention to be an effective international treaty, ratification of more countries, particularly maritime nations, is needed.