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The Contiguous Zone as an Archaeological Maritime Zone

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

AbstractThe law of the sea, mainly codified in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (losc), does not properly address the protection of underwater cultural heritage. This is particularly evident for the contiguous zone, a maritime area where different public and private marine activities may be threatening that heritage. Articles 33 and 303(2) losc are counterproductive and may create a legal problem that the 2001 unesco Convention on the protection of underwater cultural heritage tries to solve and clarify. In addition to this Convention, State practice shows how coastal States have been expanding their rights over their contiguous zone by adding legislative powers to the limited enforcement powers allegedly endorsed in the losc. This article tries to demonstrate that general and consistent State practice over the last decades, both conventional and unilateral, has produced a change in the legal rules governing the coastal States’ archaeological rights over their contiguous zone, expanding them with no clear objection among States, which now consider the protection of underwater cultural heritage—a generally absent interest during the negotiation of the losc—indispensable to safeguard for future generations the fragile elements composing that heritage.

Affiliations: 1: Universitat Jaume I, CastellónSpain


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