Piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea

Overview

BIMCO's position on "piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea " has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.

Background

The framework for the repression of piracy under international law is mainly set out in the  UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in 1994. States have an obligation to cooperate in the repression of piracy to the fullest possible extent. All states have universal jurisdiction on the high seas to seize pirate ships, or a ship taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons on board.

Armed robbery can occur within the internal waters and territorial sea of a coastal state and in such cases the primary responsibility for enforcement normally falls on the coastal state.

All states have a shared responsibility to ensure the global supply chain is protected on the high seas and in territorial waters. Effective  implementation of UNCLOS in national regulation is thus key to reduce armed robbery, acts of piracy or other violent acts at sea.

BIMCO’s strategic aim is to see the minimisation and eventual eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Only then will seafarers’ safety  and freedom of navigation be assured, without the need for self-protection measures and additional insurance premiums.

BIMCO’s position

  • Lack of uniform implementation and effective enforcement by coastal states of their responsibilities according to UNCLOS undermines the effect of various initiatives aimed at combatting piracy and armed robbery at sea.
  • The vital relationship and strong cooperation between navies, maritime law enforcement agencies and the shipping industry should be maintained in order to deter and defeat piracy globally.
  • A global Best Management Practices (BMP) will establish a uniform methodology for the protection of ships from piracy. The commonalities of most counter piracy efforts in all regions, whatever the methods of attack should be addressed in a single document.
  • Anti-piracy guidance should not be expanded to cover terrorism or acts of war because of legal and insurance implications. Additional guidance, specific to perceived threats other than piracy, should remain separate.
  • The use of PMSCs should not be seen as institutionalising this practice. When required, BIMCO supports the use of private maritime security companies (PMSCs), which are ISO28007 certified and operate legitimately, as a supplement to the efforts by the naval forces.
  • According to UNCLOS, counter piracy is a government’s responsibility. Requests to the shipping industry to make financial contributions to counter-piracy initiatives are not supported.
  • Paying ransom for release of crew and ship is the right of owners and their responsibility to protect seafarers should not be hindered.

 

Rasmus Nord Jorgensen
in Copenhagen, DK

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