Yin-Cheng Hsu

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PhD Topic

Underwater Cultural Heritage in International Law: the Conflicts of Treaties


Professor Robin Geiss
Dr Christa Roodt
Dr Irini Papanicolopulu



Yin-Cheng Hsu has engaged himself in marine matters over a long period of time. He obtained his first Masters degree in Ocean Engineering at the National Taiwan Ocean University and then studied for his second Masters degree in Marine Policy at Cardiff University.

Since then he has been engaged in research regarding the protection of underwater cultural heritage at the University of Glasgow. He is familiar with nearly all issues regarding marine affairs due to his research background. He is also the top qualified recipient for the National Scholarship of Taiwan, which is considered to be one of the highest honours in his country.

Most people only consider the 2001 Convention of the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (CPUCH) for the matters of the protection of underwater cultural heritage (UCH). However, UCH are not only regulated by the CPUCH but also by other relevant legal sources. The CPUCH, as a single treaty, cannot provide a self-contained regime.

The complicated relationship among different legal sources causes lots of legal conflicts, especially among different treaties. One crucial question is: what are we supposed to do in the case of a conflict among different norms (treaties)? For example, one shipwreck in the Area may be protected by the CPUCH, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the 1970 Property Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects but it may not be protected by the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. In fact, many similar examples can be found in the marine zones.

The research analyses UCH thoroughly from different perspectives. The definition of UCH, cultural heritage and cultural property; the institutional framework for UCH; the object and purpose of the CPUCH, the law of the sea; the cultural heritage law; and the concept of common good and the common heritage of mankind will be presented. It aims to make some workable suggestions to protect UCH under the conflicts among different legal sources regarding UCH.


Assistant Tutor, National Taiwan Ocean University, Taiwan

Country Specific Taught Postgraduate Scholarships, Cardiff University

Government Fellowship for Studying Abroad, Taiwan


Y Hsu, "Developments in international cultural law: what hampers the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage?" 3(1) EdinSLR 116.

Conference Papers/Presentations

“Developments in international cultural heritage law: what hampers the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage?” The Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference, Edinburgh University

“The diverse definitions of ‘cultural heritage’ as a challenge for its protection” Taiwan Scientific Symposium in Edinburgh

“Where State Responsibility does not Apply: An impasse for UNESCO” All Art and Cultural Heritage Conference, University of Geneva

“A Battle between Universality and Integrity: From the Point of View of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage” Critical Legal Conference 2016, University of Kent