The Maritime Archaeology Committee presented a new version of the Code of Ethics to the 19th ICMM Congress in 2019. The Code was duly approved at the ICMM General Assembly in Mariehamn, Åland Islands on 19 September 2019, and is therefore named the ‘Åland Accord’.
The Åland Accord – Statement of Code of Ethics for Maritime Museums:
WE, THE MEMBERS of the INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF MARITIME MUSEUMS, in accordance with the collections policies of our individual institutions, resolve that we will abide by the following code of ethics regarding the archaeological recovery of maritime cultural heritage:
1. We will not knowingly encourage the illegal, unprofessional or unethical recovery of cultural material by:
A. Purchasing or accepting as gifts objects recovered in such a manner
B. Exhibiting objects recovered in such a manner
C. Collaborating with external partners engaged in the illegal, unprofessional or unethical recovery of cultural heritage.
2. We will exercise due diligence in assessing the ethical credentials of prospective collaborators or partners involved with the recovery, management, curation or exhibition of cultural material.
3. We will act as repositories for the curation and preservation of objects recovered in a legal, professional and ethical manner.
4. We will act as repositories for the archive of excavation data and other information generated by archaeological projects carried out in a professional and ethical manner.
5. We will only act to preserve material, including associated archival documentation, after recovery has occurred in an illegal, unprofessional or unethical manner, if the material is culturally significant and at serious risk of destruction, damage or irretrievable dispersal, or where we are required to do so by national or local law. Where this is required, we will act in consultation with and at the behest of duly constituted cultural authorities and insofar as it is possible, in accordance with the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001, including its Annex).
6. We will appoint an Archaeological Committee of professionals active in both maritime archaeology and museums to review cases submitted to it by member museums and make recommendations to the Executive Council.
7. We will, in all other respects, follow the principles established in the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001, including its Annex)
For further information on the Åland Accord, please email the Honorary Secretary-General Sally Archer on firstname.lastname@example.org
Maritime archaeology photo courtesy Voice of the Ocean