Piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea


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


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. It provides that all 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 and seize the property 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 interest and 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, which are currently necessary in many parts of the world.

BIMCO’s position

  • All states should ratify and implement UNCLOS. 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) would establish a uniform methodology for reporting piracy from ships. The commonalities of most counter piracy efforts in all regions, whatever the methods of attack should be addressed in a single document.
  • 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 continue to operate legitimately, as a supplement to the efforts by the naval forces and where authorized by the flag and coastal states. According to UNCLOS, it is the governments’ responsibility to address security at sea.
  • Counter piracy is a government’s responsibility. Any attempts by governments to request financial contributions from the shipping industry 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.
  • BIMCO does not wish to see the term “piracy”, acriminal act, expanded to include terrorism or acts of war because of legal and insurance implications.



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