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Vol. 4 (2023): Panoply Journal

Piracy and robbery at sea, a threat to international security?

4 September 2023


Acts of piracy and robbery at sea are often subjects of debate within the international community in the terms of how to contrast the phenomenon and prosecute the suspects.

The elements that determine piracy and operations against it are set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), articles 101-105. It is generally accepted that these elements reflect customary law.

However, can piracy be considered a threat to international security? The former international judge Cassese clarifies that piracy is not an international crime as it does not possess the quality of shocking the conscience of mankind. The repression of this crime concerns the protection of trade and free navigation, not basic values of the international community.

What is the best way to prosecute acts of piracy and robbery at sea? The options available (prosecution in the state that arrest pirates, through a mixed or hybrid court, an international tribunal or an ad hoc state, e.g., Kenya)  are highly debated as different problems arise, regardless of the options that are chosen.

The international community, so far, has not had a univocal approach to the problem.


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