Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

SMMI student wins grant to investigate the preservation of underwater cultural heritage

Published: 8 February 2016
Robert MacKintosh

A University of Southampton PhD student studying at the Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute (SMMI) has won a 2016 Grant Award from the Honor Frost Foundation.


Robert MacKintosh, who started his PhD with the institute in 2013, will use the funds to investigate implementation and enforcement of the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. While his study will focus on the Adriatic Sea, his findings could be used to help better preserve underwater cultural heritage worldwide.

The 2001 Convention aims to protect sites of cultural heritage in the ocean, such as shipwrecks and submerged prehistoric sites, by providing a framework for regulating interventions at sea beyond the limits of normal state jurisdiction. It also provides – and aims to improve – minimum standards for underwater archaeology.

Robert will conduct interviews with key stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of the Convention in five signatory states that border the Adriatic Sea – Albania, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia. From his findings he will develop strategies to overcome any existing barriers to implementation, which will be translatable not only to the wider Mediterranean but also worldwide.

“It has now been seven years since the adoption of the 2001 Convention,” says Robert. “Exceptionally among UNESCO’s cultural conventions, the 2001 Convention contains no formal systems for implementation review; there are no mechanisms by which its implementation can be monitored and analysed. Little is therefore known of the impact the Convention is having on heritage management, underwater archaeology or the underwater cultural heritage itself. Initial indications, however, suggest that there has been little legislative implementation of the Convention.”

Robert will address the following questions:

  • What legal, administrative and capacity building impacts has the Convention had on signatory states?
  • Are the national laws intended to implement the Convention being enforced and are they having an effect on the underwater cultural heritage?
  • What are the reasons for absent or deficient implementation?
  • How can both implementation and enforcement be improved?

The work will form part of Robert’s PhD project, ‘Is the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage effective in practice?’, which spans maritime archaeology and maritime law.

Established in 2001, the Honor Frost Foundation supports marine and maritime archaeology, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean.

For further information on the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, see here.



Privacy Settings