Piracy and suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of maritime navigation

Authored by: Douglas Guilfoyle

Routledge Handbook of Transnational Criminal Law

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415837125
eBook ISBN: 9780203380277
Adobe ISBN: 9781135043650


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The high seas are an asset to all States, principally as a highway for international trade, a status preserved by the doctrine of freedom of navigation on the high seas and the exclusive jurisdiction of each flag State over its vessels on the high seas. Crimes of violence on the high seas may endanger both the safety of navigation of individual vessels and the general public good provided by freedom of navigation. The classic criminal actor on the high seas is the pirate and, rhetorically at least, the pirate is often invoked as the original international criminal. The conflation of piracy with much more serious international crimes tends to obscure the function served by the law of piracy – protecting freedom of navigation. Certain gaps in the law of piracy have, in part, been cured by later treaty law concerned with offences against the safety of navigation on the high seas more generally.

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