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The Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) is a crucial organ of the 2001 Convention. Consisting of 12 elite experts in underwater archaeology and related fields, its core responsibilities are a) to provide advice to the Meeting of States Parties in questions of a scientific or technical nature and b) to assist States Parties in matters related to underwater heritage.

States that lack underwater archaeologists, but face problems due to chance discoveries, treasure hunting, scientific doubts, etc. can call on the STAB for assistance. STAB experts are readily available to offer advice or, if necessary, to send a mission to the requesting State Party. Working through physical meetings, electronic exchange and missions, the STAB is dynamic and can intervene in a timely, low-cost manner, as demonstrated by the STAB’s recent investigations into the purported ‘Santa Maria’ wreck, upon request by Haiti or its Madagascar and Panama missions. Besides offering assistance on concrete practical matters, assistance can also be provided on legal issues, such as the revision of national heritage laws.



Find out more about the STAB: accomplishmentsmembers / meeting reports.

Statutes of the Advisory Body: EN | FR | ES | RU | AR | ZH

Expert members in discussion at the third meeting of the Advisory Body, Paris 2012. © UNESCO

The assistance missions of the Advisory Body

Diver on the site © Courtesy Maksaens Denis/BNE


The recent 2014 UNESCO STAB mission to Haiti, sent to investigate a wreck that had been proposed as potentially being that of the flagship of Christopher Columbus, has confirmed that the wreck site is not that of the Santa Maria… More.

© Larre
Nosy iranja madagascar


In June 2015, following a request by the authorities of Madagascar, UNESCO sent a mission to assess the state of the wrecks lying off Sainte-Marie Island suggested to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley of the pirate Captain Kidd …. More.

© Googlemaps
Contadora Island


UNESCO emergency mission to Panama assesses the condition of the wreck of the Spanish Galleon San José

In summer 2015 UNESCO sent a STAB mission to Panama to assist in the matter of the wreck of 17th century Spanish galleon San José, which sank in the archipelago of Las Perlas in the 17th century. A commercial company has been under contract to salvage the shipwreck since 2003... More

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