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The UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage and the International Law of the Sea

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This article examines the question of whether the UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage is in line with the existing international law of the sea. The focus is on the issue of jurisdiction, which was the most controversial topic during the negotiations of the Convention. After a brief review of the relevant rules of the international law of the sea pertaining to the protection of maritime cultural property, the article will first present an overview of the UNESCO Convention itself, in particular the provisions on the jurisdiction ratione loci. It will then address the issue of the compatibility of the jurisdictional regime embodied in the agreement with the international law of the sea, as laid down primarily in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The article concludes that the various provisions of the UNESCO Convention on the jurisdiction ratione loci when interpreted restrictively, can in fact be regarded as being in conformity with the Convention on the Law of the Sea.


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