The wreck of the Titanic, which lies at the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean, is now under the protection of UNESCO, 100 years after it hit an iceberg and sank on April 12, 1912, the UN cultural agency announced Thursday.
The wreckage of the doomed ship is now covered by a 2001 convention on protecting underwater heritage, which means that the destruction, pillage or sale of objects found at the site can be outlawed by the 41 countries that signed up to the treaty.
The site was not eligible for protection before now because the convention only applies to remains that have been underwater for 100 years.
"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," Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director-general, said in a statement.
She added, "But there are thousands of other shipwrecks that need safeguarding as well.
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."