The notions of ?preferential right' and ?interest' of sates in the protection of the underwater cultural heritage

Autor:Mariano J. Aznar
Cargo:Professor of Public International Law, Universitat Jaume I
Páginas:222-258
RESUMEN

The notions of preferential right and interest of states are not alien to general international law or the law of the sea and, as hypothesis, there is a subtle and plausible trend to prefer the later before the former when addressing the legal regime of global commons. Considering the underwater cultural heritage (UCH) as a possible component among these commons, this article discusses how to... (ver resumen completo)

 
EXTRACTO GRATUITO
www.reei.org
REEI, núm. 38, diciembre 2019
DOI: 10.17103/reei.38.07
THE NOTIONS OF ‘PREFERENTIAL RIGHT’
AND ‘INTEREST’ OF SATES
IN THE PROTECTION OF
THE UNDERWATER CULTURAL HERITAGE
LAS NOCIONES DE DERECHO PREFERENTE” E
“INTERÉS” EN LA PROTECCIÓN DEL PATRIMONIO
CULTURAL SUBACUÁTICO
MARIANO J. AZNAR*
Summary: I. INTRODUCTION. II. PREFERENTIAL RIGHTS: 1. UCH IN LOSC: A) THE
DRAFTING OF ARTICLE 149 LOSC; B) A TEXTUAL INTERPRETATION OF ARTICLE
149 LOSC; 2. UCH BEYOND LOSC: A) DEFINING UCH; B) THE MANAGEMENT OF
UCH IN THE AREA; C) THE SUBJECTS OF THE PREFERENTIAL RIGHTS; D)
REMAINING OPEN QUESTIONS. III. INTEREST: 1. THE NOTION OF INTEREST…: A)
IN INTERNATIONAL LAW…; B) AND IN INTERNATIONAL HERITAGE LAW; 2.
INTEREST AND THE PROTECTION OF UCH; A) DETERMINING INTERESTS AND
IDENTIFYING THE INTERESTED SUBJECTS; B) IDENTIFYING INTERESTED
SUBJECTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE LEGAL CAPACITIES; C) CONSEQUENCES OF
THE EXISTENCE OF THESE INTERESTS. IV. CONCLUDING REMARKS.
ABSTRACT: The notions of preferential right and interest of states are not alien to general international law
or the law of the sea and, as hypothesis, there is a subtle and plausible trend to prefer the later b efore the
former when addressing the legal regime of global commons. Considering the underwater cultural heritage
(UCH) as a possible component among these commons, this article discusses how to build up a legal regime
protecting UCH progressively abandoning the presence of rights and its substitution by the notion of
interest. A quest for the holders of this interest and their id entification in casu through the revisited notion
of verifiable link, the content and extent of their legal capacities and the responsibilities these stakeholders
may have particularly states, and the legal regime governing all these issues are the purpose of these
pages. This article will discuss first the notion of preferential right as used in international law and the law
of the sea, in general, followed by the study of the presence and projection of that notion in current
international legal texts governing UCH. The same scheme of analysis will be followed when addressing
the notion of legal interest and its performance as an operative concept both at the general level of
international law and the law of the sea and, later, how this notion may be creating a new legal and political
canvas for the protection of UCH.
Fecha de recepción del trabajo: 20 de o ctubre de 201 9. Fecha de aceptación de la versión final: 20 de
noviembre de 2019.
* Professor of Public International Law, Universitat Jaume I (email: maznar@uji.es). This article was
prepared within R+D Project DER 2016-74841-R ("Instrumentos jurídicos en defensa de la integridad de
los bienes arqueológicos"). The author would like to thank Francesco Francioni and Craig Forrest for their
most valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article. The views expressed, however, are solely those
of the author, as are any errors. All websites were last accessed on 20 November 2019 .
[38] REVISTA ELECTRÓNICA DE ESTUDIOS INTERNACIONALES (2019)
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DOI: 10.17103/reei.38.07
RESUMEN: Las nociones de derechos preferentes e intereses de los estados no son ajenas al derecho
internacional g eneral o al derecho del mar y, como hipótesis, existe una tendencia sutil y plau sible de
preferir los últimos a los primeros al abordar el régimen jurídico de los bienes comunes g lobales.
Considerando el patrimonio cultural subacu ático (PCS) entre estos bienes comunes, este artículo analiza
cómo construir un régimen jurídico que proteja el PCS abandonando p rogresivamente la presencia de
derechos y su sustitución por la noción de interés. Una búsqueda de los titulares de este interés y su
identificación in casu a través de la noción revisada de vínculo verificable, el contenido y el alcance de sus
capacidades jurídicas y las responsabilidades que los actores interesad os puedan tener (particularmente
los Estados), y el régimen jurídico que rige todos estos temas son el propósito de estas páginas. Este
artículo discutirá primero la noción de derecho preferente como se usa en el derecho internacional y el
derecho del mar, en general, seguido por el estudio de la presencia y proyección de esa noción en los
instrumentos jurídicos internacionales actuales que rigen el PCS. Se seguirá el mismo esquema de análisis
cuando se aborde la noción del interés jurídico y su desempeño como un concepto operativo tanto a nivel
general del derecho internacional como en el derecho del mar para, más adelante, estudiar cómo esta
noción puede estar creando una nueva estructura de análisis para la protección del PCS.
KEYWORDS: preferential right, interest, law of the sea, underwater cultural heritage
PALABRAS CLAVE: derechos preferentes, interés, derecho del mar, patrimonio cultural subacuático
I. INTRODUCTION
As in any other legal system, international law has a threefold function: to protect, rank
and solve the contradicting interests among its subjects. In the particular case of the law
governing underwater cultural heritage (UCH) mainly the 1982 UN Law of the Sea
Convention and the 2001 UNESCO Convention,
1
different variables may operate:
because of its location, coastal state(s) may have an interest; due to its cultural value, not
only its crafters but humankind may also have an interest in its protection; giving its still
economic value, some stakeholders may claim some right upon it or be interested in its
legal regime. UCH (particularly some wrecks) may also pose a danger to navigation or to
the marine environment. Flag states may claim some title upon their sunken state vessels.
Last but not least, along with its material value, an immaterial significance may also be
vested in an underwater site as a venerated place or as maritime grave.
As cultural objects, UCH is governed by the law of cultural heritage; as objects located
at sea, both law of the sea and maritime law may be also applicable.
2
The continuing
interaction between international and domestic laws, and between hard and soft rules
make this question an always multifaceted object of legal analysis. Law governing UCH
is therefore complex, multi-layered and sometimes contradictory. It also has some lacunas
1
Convention on the Law of the Sea (adopted 10 December 1982, entered into force 16 November 1994),
1833 UNTS 397 (hereinafter ‘LOSC’) and Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural
Heritage (adopted 2 Nov ember 2001, entered into force 2 January 2009), 2562 UNTS 1 (hereinafter
‘UNESCO Convention’ or ‘the Convention’).
2
This paper will address maritime cultural heritage only, thus leaving aside underwater heritage located in
inland waters like rivers, lakes and wetlands. The term underwater instead of maritime or submarine is
used because its general acceptance as a term of art and its inclusion in recent international and domestic
legal texts.
The notions of ‘preferential right’ and ‘interest’ of sates in the protection of the underwater cultural
heritage
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DOI: 10.17103/reei.38.07
which neither current international nor domestic rules are capable to properly filling-in.
Recourse to analogy, fairness, progressive interpretation and legal reasoning may be then
necessary.
Furthermore, that law must accommodate quite different interests which have been
modulated throughout the last decades: from a predominantly private-interest approach
to a more public regime where stakeholders involved are numerous and different,
3
and
from the political and legal environment presiding in the second half of the 20th Century
to current challenges that appear in the new millennium, including new (or renewed)
threats to UCH
4
.
This paper analyses the content and applicability to UCH of the notions of preferential
rights and interest of states involved, embodied in current international law governing
that heritage. These concepts are not alien to general international law or the law of the
sea and, as hypothesis, there is a subtle and plausible trend to prefer the later before the
former and, even, to build up a legal regime protecting UCH progressively abandoning
the presence of rights and its substitution by the notion of interest. A quest for the holders
of this interest and their identification in casu through the revisited notion of verifiable
link, the content and extent of the legal capacities and the responsibilities these
stakeholders may have particularly states, and the legal regime governing all these
issues are the purpose of these pages.
This article will discuss first the notion of preferential right as used in international law
and the law of the sea, in general, followed by the study of the presence and projection of
that notion in current international legal texts governing UCH. The same scheme of
analysis will be followed when addressing the notion of legal interest and its performance
as an operative concept both at the general level of international law and the law of the
sea and, later, how this notion may be creating a new legal and political canvas for the
protection of UCH.
II. PREFERENTIAL RIGHTS
In very broad terms, a preferential right implies the preeminent legal position of a subject
of law with regard the existence or performance of a specific subjective right in relation
with other subjects and their competing, albeit opposing subjective or collective rights. It
means a vantage position as defined by law, either customary or conventional.
The notion of preferential rights is not alien to international law, particularly in the law
of the sea but mainly limited to fisheries rights: its legitimacy was partially accepted
3
Among others, these stakeholders may include states, peoples, international organisations vested by states
with cultural or maritime interests, private persons (both individuals and companies), the international
community of states and humankind.
4
For the latter, see R. GRENIER, D. NUTLEY & I. COCHRAN (eds.), Underwater Cultural Heritage at
Risk: Managing Natural and Human Impacts, UNESCO, Paris, 2006.

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