Addressing maritime violence through a changing dynamic of international law-making: supplementation within evolution
Wu, Winston Yu-Tsang
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Violence at sea has long been a problem for the international community, although the nature and preponderance of incidents has evolved over time. This issue was dealt with in a cursory manner in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and therefore states have had to develop the legal framework through other instruments in order to address growing problems of maritime violence. This thesis examines mechanisms of change in the development of international law concerning maritime violence. It considers how international law has responded to this threat, and analyses a variety of different law-making techniques. This study observes that major international law-making activities concerning maritime violence in the recent decades have been in response to international incidents and crises, such as the Achille Lauro, the September 11 attacks, and the Somali piracy crisis. Counterfactually speaking, such law-making acts would not have taken place if these crises had not happened. The study also notes another shift of focus in making international rules aiming to tackle maritime violence away from customary international law and multilateral treaties towards an incremental dependence on United Nations Security Council resolutions, International Maritime Organization’s initiatives, regional cooperative measures, and treaty interpretation techniques for filling the gaps left in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. With this shift in law-making in mind, the thesis first explores gaps in law regarding piracy and terrorism at sea and reviews the negotiation of two major maritime terrorism treaties, i.e. the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and its 2005 Protocol. Secondly, it then inspects the United Nations Security Council’s law-making activities in combating terrorism and piracy. Thirdly, it surveys the creation and evolution of the Proliferation Security Initiative and also scrutinises the United States-led bilateral ship-boarding agreements for combating transportation of weapons of mass destruction. Finally, it compares and contrasts the regional approaches across Asia, Africa and Europe in the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea. The thesis contends that each of the law-making technique employed in fighting maritime violence is not alternative or optional to one another, but rather used in a supplementary fashion to the overarching framework of the law of the sea.