The application of international law to underwater cultural heritage: addressing the problems of commercial treasure hunting

Hsu, YinCheng (2019) The application of international law to underwater cultural heritage: addressing the problems of commercial treasure hunting. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis argues that the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (CPUCH) does not adopt a pragmatic approach to fight against commercial treasure hunters, nor does it convincingly strive to ensure the jurisdictional balance established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UCH can be best preserved in situ (remain on the seabed), and commercial treasure hunters pose a direct threat to the achievement of this aim. Since commercial treasure hunters seek profits, there would be no better way to stop their profit-driven activities than reducing their economic incentives to perform such activities. While the CPUCH inclines towards the deployment of different jurisdictional tools, which may deter a few amateur drivers from disturbing UCH sites, the legal concept of restitution is an ideal tool to increase the costs incurred by commercial shipwreck recovery companies. If all seized UCH can be, or at least are considered to be, returned to the holder of a particular legal right, commercial shipwreck recovery companies will face the risk of losing UCH. In this new approach, jurisdictional tools are no longer the main 'weapon' to fight against commercial treasure hunters. Although jurisdictional tools are still important for managing discovered UCH sites, they ought to be adjusted to be more compatible with UNCLOS. This thesis proposes a new twofold strategy to combat the UCH crisis: reduce the incentive of the commercial shipwreck recovery companies, on the one hand, and construct a jurisdictional regime, based on UNCLOS, for the management of UCH on the seabed, on the other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: underwater cultural heritage, the law of the sea, public international law, private international law, treasure hunters, treasure hunting, the law of salvage, the law of finds, cultural rights, the public trust doctrine, shipwrecks, sovereign Immunity, restitution, repatriation.
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Geiss, Professor Robin and Roodt, Dr. Christa and Papanicolopulu, Professor Irini
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 9 January 2022
Depositing User: YinCheng Hsu
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-40911
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2019 13:57
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2021 07:52
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.40911

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