Wednesday, November 30

2001 UNESCO Convention: The Gambia formalizes its commitment to the protection of its underwater cultural heritage

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From: UNESCO-Dakar

Good news for the protection of underwater cultural heritage on the Atlantic coast. The National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia voted unanimously to ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the underwater cultural heritage on Thursday 22 September 2022!

The unanimous vote for ratification of the UNESCO 2001 Convention is testimony to the emerging political will for heritage and culture, which we will exploit to advance sustainable development.

Hamat NK Bah, Minister of Tourism and Culture, The Gambia, September 2022 Congratulations to The Gambia for this important decision, which marks a further step in recognising the role of culture and heritage as a legacy, a driver of sustainable development, but also a guarantee of peace and resilience in the country.

Ratifying the 2001 Convention is a necessary step to ensure the best possible protection of underwater cultural heritage in The Gambia. In addition to the opportunities offered in terms of employability and sustainable development, this heritage is part of the identity and history of peoples and communities.

Its ratification provides a legal framework for better study and valorization of this unique heritage, while ensuring its protection and sustainability for the youth and future generations.

Ms Adèle Nibona, Regional Advisor for Culture, UNESCO Office for West Africa-Sahel, September 2022 This vote in favour of the ratification of the 2001 UNESCO Convention is the result of the efforts engaged by the teams of the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and the Gambian National Commission for UNESCO with the technical support of the UNESCO Regional Office for West Africa/Sahel, which recently included awareness-raising sessions for the national authorities and stakeholders.

These activities have provided a better understanding of the advantages and challenges of this tool and its effective implementation at national level, but they have above all been crucial to achieve this joint adhesion.

As of now, the next step towards effective ratification is the official deposit of the instruments of ratification with UNESCO, which should take place in the coming weeks. It is exciting to see The Gambia passing the legislation authorizing the ratification of the 2001 Convention.

This comes as a result of several rounds of initiatives that I have had the privilege of coordinating with Gambian partners. It will allow us to continue these efforts, thanks to the advantages offered by the 2001 Convention, particularly the training of qualified human resources in underwater archaeology and the management of submerged cultural properties.

Moussa Wélé, researcher in underwater archaeology & spec. in underwater cultural heritage, UNESCO It should be noted that The Gambia has a rich underwater cultural heritage, shared in part with Senegal via the Gambia River, which needs to be preserved in the face of multiple challenges such as illicit trafficking of cultural property, looting and global warming.

This landmark is a continuation of the capacity building activities developed with its neighbouring country, Senegal, particularly in underwater archaeology. It is also linked to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.