Improving the Global Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage by Transnational Governance
Date: 4 November 2019
University of Exeter
PhD in Law
Coming into force in 2009, the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage has grown in reputation as the leading international instrument for the global protection of underwater cultural heritage (UCH). While the Convention introduced a number of positive developments in the international system ...
Coming into force in 2009, the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage has grown in reputation as the leading international instrument for the global protection of underwater cultural heritage (UCH). While the Convention introduced a number of positive developments in the international system protecting UCH, there has been a lack of research evaluating the legal framework from a more critical and macro perspective. This study therefore seeks to examine the possible weaknesses which may lie in the sole reliance upon an international treaty, as an instrument developed and enforced through the legal system of public international law. It argues that the multiple-value and global public good nature of UCH makes agreements between states to ‘cooperate’ in its protection prone to underproduction and poor compliance, when operating within such a consent-based system of law. It then argues that numerous features of Westphalian sovereignty – including sovereign absolutism, equality and territoriality – can each be found at the heart of a struggling system for governing the oceans, which has relied too heavily upon the positivist paradigm of nation state authority and its manifestations through state-led public international law and private international law. Utilising an in-depth literature review across numerous law and governance research fields, as well as interviews with 11 expert respondents in the field of marine and UCH policy, the study examines: (1) what are the challenges relating to cooperation, compliance, and collective action in the protection of UCH if relying on “inter-national” governance, as is envisioned by the use of the UNESCO Convention; and, (2), assuming that new solutions are needed, whether “transnational” governance approaches – operating vertically at multiple policy scales (global-regional-national-local) and utilising private, public and hybrid actors in the provision and enforcement of regulation – might enhance the protection of UCH further. In particular, it seeks to examine whether global governance, regional-level regimes, and community-centred collaborative governance could each provide additional protections for UCH, beyond the horizontal Westphalian paradigm. The findings provide evidence of the weaknesses which would be inherent in the exclusive reliance on the UNESCO Convention and conclude that, in parallel, further efforts must be made to achieve new global, regional, and community policy regimes for UCH protection, operating with, within or without the nation state.
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