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Sovereign immunities

  • The Emerging Legal Regime of Wrecks of Warships

    February 3, 2017

    The status in international law of operational warships has been long established. In contrast, the status of such vessels after they have sunk has been, and remains, a matter of considerable uncertainty. The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides no rules whatsoever relating to sunken warships nor to wrecks more generally. However, over the last decades, technological advances have led to the discovery of many new wreck sites, fuelling commercial interest in these wrecks. As we have seen in our previous blog, illegal scavenging of war wrecks has caused significant upset among governments, war veterans and historians who want to preserve the final resting place of sailors who went down with their ships.

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  • Maritime Cultural Property and Treasure Hunting

    June 16, 2009

    Archaeological sites in international waters are numerous and still largely untouched. With the development of sophisticated technology for the search and recovery of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, however, issues of ownership, preservation, and cultural property rights have achieved increasing prominance. In particular, after the discovery of RMS Titanic in 1985 the debate among marine archaeologists, cultural rights proponents and commercial salvage companies about treasure hunting in international waters has intensified.

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