On the Definition of the Crime of Sea Piracy Revisited: Customary vs. Treaty Law and the Jurisdictional Implications Thereof

Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2011

30 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Barry Dubner

Barry Dubner

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Crimes of piracy exist because the underlying purpose of defining the crime is to keep commercial lanes of navigation open to shipping. However, is the definition of sea piracy so all-inclusive so as to make it too vague in prosecution situations? And, can pirates on land be considered pirates only if they were first considered pirates on the high seas? A diversity of scholarly opinion exists surrounding the definition of the term, and has existed since the first articles on sea piracy appeared in the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas.

No prevailing definition of the word "piracy" is used when the crime occurs away from internal or territorial waters. Instead, piracy is called "armed robbery" in locations, primarily municipal, other than the high seas.

This article sets out the different views of what constituted the crime of piracy historically, and how it evolved into its current usages. The author also discusses the "custom(s)" regarding the definition(s) of piracy and parses the international law definition provided in the Geneva Convention.

Keywords: piracy, sea piracy, international customs, Geneva Convention on the High Seas, historical definitions of piracy

JEL Classification: K14, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Dubner, Barry, On the Definition of the Crime of Sea Piracy Revisited: Customary vs. Treaty Law and the Jurisdictional Implications Thereof (2011). Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce, Vol. 42, No. 1, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2544694

Barry Dubner (Contact Author)

Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law ( email )

6441 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, FL 32807
United States

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