The Titanic wreck site is the newest on the list of UNESCO's underwater heritage sites across the world, as the wreck now comes under the cover of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement Thursday.
The UNESCO Convention sets rules for protecting underwater shipwrecks from destruction by looting and excessive diving.
Since the Titanic wreck lies in international waters, no single state can claim the site but following the site's inclusion under the convention, the States Parties to the Convention can take all possible measures within their power to protect the wreck and ensure that the human remains there are treated with dignity.
The convention provides the State Parties the authority to seize any illicitly recovered artifacts from the wrecks. They can even ban all vessels undertaking unethical exploration from their ports.
The sinking of the Titanic is anchored in the memory of humanity and I am pleased that this site can now be protected by the UNESCO Convention, Bokova said.
We do not tolerate the plundering of cultural sites on land, and the same should be true for our sunken heritage, she added.
The Titanic is qualified for protection under the UNESCO Convention as its remains have now been underwater for at least 100 years, a criterion for getting the UNECO's protection, said Bokova, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. However, she showed concern over other countless ancient shipwrecks that are vulnerable to damage from diving and looting.
All of them are archaeological sites of scientific and historical value. They are also the memory of human tragedy that should be treated with respect.
Dubbed Queen of the Ocean and the Unsinkable ship, the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after she struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City on April 15, 1912. On April 12, 2012, the world will mark the 100th year of the doomed ship.
The shipwreck, which was discovered in more than 12,400 feet of water in the North Atlantic in 1985, is also considered an archaeological resource site as defined under the United States Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Start the slideshow to view some of the pictures of the Titanic shipwreck and more.