Washington International Law Journal


Maritime terrorism on the Pacific Ocean is a growing threat. Terrorists can take advantage of widening gaps in the world’s maritime security regime. The current incarnation of the legal framework surrounding the nonflag-state right of visit has exacerbated emerging weaknesses. The world must be willing to allow nonflag states greater power to board vessels on the high seas that are suspected of participating in maritime terrorism. The ship-boarding procedures within the 2005 Draft Protocol to the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation are a step in the right direction. They do not go far enough, however, toward increasing maritime security. To effectively combat maritime terrorism, the international community should amend the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, incorporating Article 3bis(1)(a) and Article 8bis(5)(e) of the 2005 Draft Protocol into Part VII of the Convention. This would create an additional exception to the principle of exclusive flagstate jurisdiction and control on the high seas, allowing for a nonflag-state right of visit given reasonable grounds to suspect that a ship has committed, is committing, or is about to commit an act of maritime terrorism as defined by Article 3bis(1)(a).

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