The Galleon ‘San Jose’. Almost Four Decades of Legal Struggles on the National and International Plane

Maciej Żenkiewicz, Tadeusz Wasilewski



The article presents the history and current disputes surrounding the Galleon San Jose. As an on-going case since 1980s, the dispute involves various actors on national, as well as international level. The article discusses this issue focusing on four relevant elements: international and national law, politics and diplomacy. Legal obligations under international law which may be applicable to San Jose galleon are presented, with comments regarding its applicability to Colombia. Subsequently, Colombian relevant national legislature and judicial decisions are discussed, to establish how the Galleon with its treasures may be classified under Colombian civil law. In the last part two elements are presented, namely: politics and diplomacy. This part presents in particular an attitude and actions regarding the case after announced discovery of the shipwreck of the Galleon in 2015.


Galleon San Jose; Colombia; underwater heritage; treasure; UNCLOS; UNESCO

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