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Petition for the UNESCO-Convention

Call for support

In 2001, the UNESCO adopted the
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. It has come into effect at the beginning of this year. 20 States have ratified the Convention so far. Regrettably, Germany is not among them.
The German Society for the Advancement of Underwater Archaeology (DEGUWA) has tried to lobby this topic by directly approaching politicians, also with the help of influential supporters. The pressure has not proven enough so far. Accordingly, the DEGUWA initiated a campaign to collect signatures for a petition that is to be presented to the Bundestag with the objective to urge Germany as a nation of culture to at last embrace its role in the protection of the underwater cultural heritage.
DEGUWA members collected more than 5,000 signatures mainly among academics (see also
Hamburg Declaration) and recreational divers. The second phase aimed at a wider public. Some institutions acted as "ambassadors" by displaying lists for signatures and enlisted "sponsors" to collect signatures among their acquaintances. Ambassadors for the Petition were, among others, the Deutsche Schiffahrtsmuseum (German Shipping Museum), the Institute of Prehistory and Ancient History in Kiel, the Roman-Germanic Commission in Frankfurt.
The underwater cultural heritage is increasingly endangered -
 swift action is needed!

June 2013
Expert Meeting in the Deutsche Bundestag
On June 3, 2013 an Expert Meeting was organised in the Bundestag on the initiative of MdB Wolfgang Börnsen. Expert participants were Prof. Dr. Dr. Parzinger of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), Dr. Guerin of the UNESCO-office in Paris and Dr. Martin of the DEGUWA. Other participants were members of the government coalition, of the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Transport. The main objective was the political implementation of the DEGUWA petition, which had already been unanimously agreed upon by the Bundestag. This aim received strong support and it was the common intention to enact, in the 18. meeting of the Bundestag, the legislation necessary for Germany to become a Member of the Convention. Most significant was the information during the Expert Meeting was that the Foreign Office had abandoned their opposition and had already drawn up a schedule for Germany's accession to the Convention and had forwarded it to the appropriate offices. The Ministry of Transport intends to follow suit.

Background information and the latest developments are reported by Mathias Orgeldinger in the
Nürnberger Zeitung.

Mai 2012
Reactions to the memorandum
The spokesperson for culture and the media of the CDU/CSU parliamentary party, Mr. Wolfgang Börnsen, informed us on May 7, 2012 that the Committee for Culture and the Media of the CDU/CSU faction would continue to advocate the ratification of the UNESCO Convention. They also commissioned a report by the Research Services of the German Bundestag. None of the other parliamentary parties have reacted to the memorandum.

Letter by Wolfgang Börnsen, MdB

April 2012
Memorandum of the
Participants of the International Conference on Underwater Archaeology
OZEANEUM in Stralsund, March 31 - April 1, 2012
To the parliamentary parties of the German Bundestag
The Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag has considered, under pet. no.3-16-05-01 059269, the submission of the German Society for the Promotion of Underwater Archaeology (DEGUWA e.V.) and numerous other signees regarding the "Accession of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UNESCO-Convention on the Underwater Cultural Heritage". Taking also into account a policy brief by the German Foreign Office, and in view of the great importance of the global cultural heritage under water, the Committee, in their policy recommendations, has deemed it vital for the Federal Republic of Germany to join the UNESCO Convention in a timely manner.
The Petitions Committee decided on this recommendation on June 17, 2013 and has informed the parliamentary parties of the German Bundestag accordingly.
With the present memorandum, the conference participants request the parties of the German Bundestag to promptly ratify the UNESCO-Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

June 2010
Petition accepted by the German Bundestag!
On June 30, 2013 the GERMAN BUNDESTAG (Chairwoman of the Petitions Committee Ms. Kersten Steinke) informed us that

"the German Bundestag has discussed your petition and decided on June 17, 2010:

The petition
a) as a paper will be passed on to the German government - the Foreign Office
b) will be brought to the attention of the parties of the German Bundestag.

With this, the Bundestag follows the policy recommendation of the Petitions Committee (BT-prints 17/1992), whose argumentation is included.

This decision of the German Bundestag concludes the petitions proceedings.

As, to our knowledge, the decision of the Petitions Committee has been unanimous, it remains for us to hope that the ongoing enquiry of the Foreign Office into certain objections will soon be concluded and the German government will not wait until "other important nations, such as the USA, Japan, India, Russia or Brazil ... would show an inclination" to eventually "join the convention".

You can find the link to the 3-page text of the decision here:

Information for the press by the VDST

December 2009
Reaction by the Petitions Committee
Concerning the question of Germany joining the UNESCO-Convention, which the DEGUWA strongly supports, we received a letter on December 1, 2009 (PET 3-16-05-01-059269) in which Mr. Norbert Asmuß of the Petitons Committee of the German Bundestag informs us that he has "forwarded the petition to those Members of the Bundestag who are going to report to the Petitions Committee on your request". After a conclusive decision has been reached about your petition in the German Bundestag you will be informed about the result without further request. I am asking you to remain patient until then.

In our estimate, we have taken the first hurdle in the petitions process and we hope that now also the appropriate national bodies are going to concern themselves with the Convention.

August 2009
Petition presented
More than 100 "Sponsors" have taken part in the awareness campaign on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001), collecting fare more than 5000 signatures.

On August 25, 2009, our petition to the German Bundestag concerning the ratification of the UNESCO Convention 2001 was presented to the Petitions committee in Berlin. The Committee is now going to consider the petition and asks to appreciate that "in view of the great number of incoming petitions and the sometimes necessary detailed consideration ... the decision-making process regarding your petition may take a longer period of time" (letter of September s, 2009).

August 2009
100 helpers are collecting signatures

Retired teacher Peter Schmidt has acted as a "sponsor" between February and August 2009 during many cultural events. He has raised public awareness about the endangered underwater cultural heritage and collected more than 200 signatures for our petition. As a small sign of appreciation, he has received a certificate from the DEGUWA board.

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