This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on 14 April 1912, which is significant not simply because the blockbuster drama based on that night has been re-released in 3D, but because the wreckage has now become eligible for protection under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which entered into force in 2009. No single state could claim the site because the Titanic sunk in international waters, 4,000 meters off the coast of Newfoundland; States only have jurisdiction over wrecks lying in their own waters and flying their flag. The Convention seeks to safeguard wrecks, sites, decorated caves and other cultural relics underwater. States parties can seize any illicitly recovered artifacts. Forty one States have ratified the Convention.
UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, stated: “The sinking of the Titanic is anchored in the memory of humanity and I am pleased that this site can now be protected in the UNESCO convention.” She called upon divers not to dump equipment or commemorative plaques on the Titanic site.