Protecting Outstanding Underwater Cultural Heritage through the World Heritage Convention: The Titanic and Lusitania as World Heritage Sites

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Author: Josh B. Martin1
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  • 1 University of Exeter Law School, University of ExeterUnited Kingdom
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Despite growing recognition of the global value of underwater cultural heritage (uch), along with intensified international efforts to ensure its protection, the possibility of its inscription on the World Heritage List has never been comprehensively examined. Arguing that the unesco 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (uch Convention) is insufficient alone to protect globally outstanding wrecks, such as the Titanic and the Lusitania, this article examines in detail the many legal and practical challenges involved with listing such sites under the World Heritage Convention. By reviewing key international agreements such as the uch Convention, World Heritage Convention, Law of the Sea Convention and the International Titanic Agreement, it draws the conclusion that it is the improved offshore management of uch—through ‘cultural’ marine protected areas operating under the framework of the uch Convention—which would open the possibility of nomination to the World Heritage List.

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