The Use of Force against Pirates
PROSECUTING MARITIME PIRACY: DOMESTIC SOLUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL CRIME, Cambridge University Press (2015)
18 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2014 Last revised: 13 Nov 2015
Date Written: April 28, 2014
The law applicable to counter-piracy operations will govern how a state or multinational force uses force against pirates, how pirates are treated if captured, the crimes for which pirates can be prosecuted, and what mechanisms can be used in such prosecutions. This chapter analyzes the law applicable to the use of force against pirates by national and multinational forces. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the primary law applicable to piracy and provides guidance regarding the use of force against individuals, groups and vessels that meet the definition of piracy. At the same time, it is also important to analyze any other relevant legal frameworks, particularly given the extensive involvement of national, regional and international forces with the authority to use force in the process of deterring pirates and responding to pirate attacks. The first section details the governing framework for the use of force under UNCLOS and law enforcement principles, including the right to board, search and visit and the right of hot pursuit. The section then addresses the specific authorizations for the use of force against pirates under United Nations Security Resolutions applicable to counter-piracy efforts off the coast of and in Somalia. The potential applicability of the law of armed conflict is the primary question in the second section — the use of military force and military units and vessels from many different states may suggest to some that the law of armed conflict must govern any engagements between such military forces and any pirates. Finally, given the extensive operations of three multinational counter-piracy task forces in the Gulf of Aden, the third section analyzes specific issues with regard to these task forces, including applicable law, rules of engagement and coordination between and among national forces.
Keywords: piracy, UNCLOS, use of force, law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, multinational operations, task force, counter-piracy
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