Underwater Cultural Heritage: International Law Regime
The greatest museum of human civilization lies on the seabed. Until the nineteenth century, almost 5 % of all seagoing ships were lost every year, be it for storms, incidents of navigation, or naval battles.
Today, the capacity of some states and private entities to use advanced technological means to explore the seabed at increasing depths – for instance, the wreck of the Titanic was found in 1985 at 3,798 m below the sea level – not only allows access to a huge cultural heritage but also entails the risk of such heritage being looted or used for private commercial gain.
Different Models in National Legislation
Different approaches can be found in national legislation, based on the priority that the states concerned give to public or to private interests. A few examples are given hereunder.
In Italy, the underwater cultural heritage found within the 12-mile territorial sea falls under falls under the general regime set forth in the “Code of Cultural Properties...
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