The Implications of Modern Law of the Sea on the Protection of Sunken Warships in the Gulf of Finland

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Title: The Implications of Modern Law of the Sea on the Protection of Sunken Warships in the Gulf of Finland
Author: Peltokorpi, Ville
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Helsingfors universitet, Juridiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2016
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Kansainvälinen oikeus
International law
Abstract: This paper evaluates what mechanisms coastal States have to regulate activities on shipwrecks beyond the territorial waters, in particular sunken warships. The evaluation focus is on the legal framework of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) and the effects this Convention has on sunken warships beyond the territorial waters of a coastal State. This is done by examining the history and contents of the relevant provisions of the LOSC for how the attribution of rights and jurisdiction affects the protection of sunken warships in the Gulf of Finland as archaeological and historical objects. From a cultural heritage management point of view, the delimitation of different maritime zones, which determine the level of protection underwater cultural heritage is entitled to receive, makes little sense. The provisions of the LOSC are far from complete, and pose serious problems to coastal States and flag States alike who wish to protect sunken warships and other forms of underwater cultural heritage. While the issues regarding the protection of underwater cultural heritage have been addressed in the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (CPUCH), only one Baltic State has ratified that Convention. Furthermore, CPUCH only covers shipwrecks that were sunk over 100 years ago, thus presently excluding the last shipwrecks from World War I (1914–1918) and all shipwrecks from World War II (1939–1945). For as long the CPUCH does not receive wider acceptance, and the questions deal with shipwrecks from World War II, coastal States are left with the provisions of the LOSC and individual State practice. Although the Convention does not offer any applicable framework for the protection of sunken warships or underwater cultural heritage, coastal States in the Baltic Sea have multiple options to consider.

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