How to suppress piracy with law

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TWo untamed elephants are in the room: piracy and liability. Taming liability controls piracy. Here is how. Piracy unites to protect owners in investments; labour in lives; states in trade; and law in civil safety and property security. Piracy goes to our hearts —lives, property,money, the rule of law. The stars are aligned.

I challenge International Maritime Organization secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos and all maritime stakeholders to suppress piracy by a simple and inexpensive legislative move.

Liability is the problem. It differs not across states. Ships, masters, officers, ratings, owners and armed guards are private parties. The injuring of an imputed pirate by a private party is unlawful under most flag state laws. One is liable to the state for injury, perhaps not prosecuted then, but liable. The UNConvention on the Law of the Sea does not waive it. Few flag states have active anti-piracy laws. None bars prosecution universally.

Piracy understands force. Thus, armed guards work well. Force suppresses piracy, says the history of three millennia. Indelicate? Abhorrent? Uncivilised? Duty of governments? All yes. Controllable? Yes. Successful? Very. What does this mean? Currently, if we are prudent we should not use superior force from our ships to meet piratical force. Why?

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John A. C. Cartner
Cartner & Fiske, LLC

CARTNER & FISKE, LLC is a law firm practicing worldwide. The firm has three principal practices.... View Profile »


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