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25 IJCP 375 (2018)
Maritime Archaeology and Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Disputed South China Sea

handle is hein.journals/injculpy25 and id is 396 raw text is: 

International Journal of Cultural Property (2018) 25:375-401. Printed in the USA.
Copyright @ 2018 International Cultural Property Society
doi: 10. 1017/SO940739118000176

Maritime Archaeology and Underwater

Cultural Heritage in the Disputed South

China Sea

Elena Perez-Alvaro*

Craig Forrestt

Abstract: China's broad geopolitical strategy and positioning for global
influence includes its averred legal position in relation to its sovereignty and
jurisdiction in the South China Sea. A response to this legal position was the
Philippines' initiation of arbitral proceedings constituted under the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Despite the non-participation of
China in these proceedings, the arbitral decision of 2016 clarified a number
of legal provisions pertinent to the ongoing territorial and maritime disputes
in the South China Sea. This decision impacted directly on China's assertion
of sovereign and jurisdictional historical title or rights, which, in part, relies
on evidence obtained from underwater cultural heritage and the associated
maritime  archaeology. This article critically evaluates China's maritime
archaeology program and its policy with respect to underwater cultural heritage
in light of the 2016 arbitral decision and the underlying international law of the
sea. While recognizing that China's policy is not inconsistent with its broader
heritage policy, and its national approach to the protection of underwater
cultural heritage, this article argues that this cannot be used to support China's
South China Sea claims and is not only misplaced, such as to pose a risk to the
archaeological record, but also inconstant with international developments
in the form of the 2001 United Nations Convention of the Protection of the
Underwater  Cultural Heritage.

Keywords: Maritime archaeology, underwater cultural heritage, South China Sea,

*Researcher and Managing Director, Licit Cultural Heritage, London, United Kingdom;
Email: licitculturalheritage@gmail.com
tProfessor and Director, Marine and Shipping Law Unit, TC Beirne School of Law, University of
Queensland, St Lucia, Australia; Email: c.forrest@law.uq.edu.au


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