THE PROTECTION OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE ON THE DEEP SEABED IN INTERNATIONAL LAW – CAN THE TITANIC BE SAVED?
Keywords:underwater cultural heritage, International Seabed Area, international law, RMS Titanic
The paper aims to demonstrate that contemporary international law has solutions to offer when it comes to protecting the cultural heritage in maritime areas beyond national jurisdiction, i.e. in the International Seabed Area. In this context, the author also specifically considers issues regarding the protection of RMS Titanic’s wreck, as a cultural heritage site significant to the whole of humankind. In the first part, the paper analyses the rules of international law applicable to the protection and preservation of cultural objects in the International Seabed Area. The analysis commences with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which only partially regulated the protection of the underwater cultural heritage. In addition, the paper researches in detail into the international legal mechanisms as provided for by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. Finally, the author examines the possibility of applying the protection regime according to the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The second part of the paper focuses on the international legal situation regarding the protection of Titanic’s wreck. Besides analysing the most important provisions of the special 2003 Agreement concerning the Shipwrecked Vessel RMS Titanic, which is not yet in force, the author reviews the prospects of applying the universal conventions discussed in the first part of the paper and also seeks to assess the effectiveness of the mechanisms at hand in assuring the protection of this valuable cultural object.
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