The Turtle Bay Pivot: How the United Nations Security Council Is Reshaping Naval Pursuit of Nuclear Proliferators, Rogue States, and Pirates
Emory International Law Review, Volume 33, Issue 1 (2018); pp. 1-90
90 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2019
Date Written: December 1, 2018
Multinational action at the United Nations to combat illicit activity represents the most consequential sanctions period involving the maritime environment since the Athenian Empire’s Megarian Decree. From its inception, the Security Council has authorized measures that have led to naval approaches or boardings of more than 50,000 ships, the destruction of 3,500 vessels, and the maritime rescue of 40,000 people in the pursuit of transnational security threats. While the Security Council has addressed maritime challenges over the past seven decades, a diplomatic renaissance began in 2008 with decisions impacting naval engagements unfolding with unparalleled frequency:
From 1946 to 2007, resolutions were adopted about once every 1.7 years, and since, are now approved every 2.5 months. The Turtle Bay pivot is emblematic of an increased emphasis in collaborative responses to contemporary transnational security threats, yet questions remain, such as whether the Security Council is diluting their unique authority and the vitality of law-of-the-sea principles including freedom of navigation, innocent passage, and the general concept of exclusive flag State jurisdiction. Varied interpretations of resolutions, ensuring compliance, and overcoming challenges inherent in conducting at sea boardings further complicate the coordinated pursuit of illicit activity. This Article surveys hundreds of Security Council decisions to identify six categories of resolutions that could involve the maritime environment, examines their influence and intersection with one another, discusses potential future focus areas, and concludes with recommendations to improve the utility of these mandates.
Keywords: United Nations, Security Council, UNSC, UNGA, Turtle Bay, international organizations, Navy, Coast Guard, maritime law enforcement, SAR, search and rescue, UNODC, proliferation, 1540, Somali, UNCLOS, law of the sea
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