Global Challenges to Maritime Security

maritime securityChallenges are everywhere, be it in businesses such as, be it in our lives or national security. The problems facing maritime safety are many, be it piracy and armed robbery, illicit trafficking by sea, maritime terrorism, weapons trafficking, narcotics trafficking, cargo theft among others. These challenges continuously keep evolving and may be hybrid. The three main problems to marine security are piracy, armed robbery, and maritime terrorism.

The current changes in globalization have had a significant effect on every state of the world, resulting in higher access of resources to the world. The increasing sea-based trading activities have provided much of this access. The strategic threats to maritime security have not disappeared, but their principal sources have changed. Let us have a look at the best ways to address critical naval challenges.

Maritime Security

Maritime security appears to be a significant concept to deal with. It has become a sizeable task involving many entities such as the public, private sector, and the international community. There is the need to preserve the freedom of the sea, facilitate defending commerce and maintain good governance at sea. With maritime security, there are laid steps which involve both preventive and responsive means of protecting the sea against threats of intentional unlawful acts.

Piracy and Armed Robbery

From the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, piracy refers to any illegal acts of violence, depredation or detention that are committed to the private by the crew or passengers of a different ship and directed to another ship or even against people and property on board. Piracy can only be dealt with by means of a comprehensive multi-layered approach that involves technology, political and societal measures which are aimed at strengthening security capabilities. All these efforts are geared towards improving intelligence gathering and sharing to help bring law and order.

Maritime Terrorism

In simple terms, maritime terrorism refers to the undertaking of terrorist activities and acts within the maritime environment. This occurs against vessels at sea or passengers and personnel at the coastal facilities and settlements. Like all other forms of terrorism, maritime terrorism is mostly fueled by interests in political, ideological or religious setups. Piracy affects about 1 percent of the total 23,000 ships that pass through the Gulf of Aden, and even a less number in the Indian Ocean, with major activities witnesses along Somalia. Technology could play a key role in combating terrorism. Today’s sea vessels are equipped with wireless access points, IP ports and wireless phones that are interconnected to communicate in real time.



What is Maritime Security?


Maritime securityMaritime security is one of the latest buzz words in international relations. Significant actors have now started to include maritime security in their mandate to ensure safety for all activities taking place in the sea. There has been no international consensus over a universal definition of maritime security. However, in a more detailed description, maritime security can be defined as all aspects that affect maritime safety and sea power. Political interests and different technologies fuel most of the issues around maritime security.

Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships

As far as maritime security is concerned, the International Maritime Organization offers support, assistance, and guidance to its members to implement security acts. One of the main threats to maritime security is piracy and robbery against ships. Piracy consists of any illegal act of violence or detention that is committed by members of a private boat on high seas against a different ship. There have been incident reports on piracy and armed robbery against ships as recorded by the IMO.

SecurityTo combat piracy, regional cooperation is required. Regional cooperation among states has an important role to play in solving problems of armed robbery and piracy against ships. In the recent years, there has been a particular focus placed on armed robbery and hijacking at sea in Gulf of Guinea in West Africa and the Gulf of Aden in Western Indian Ocean. While there have been articulate efforts made to eradicate piracy and armed robbery, ships have been urged to remain highly vigilant while navigating through these regions.

To counter the Somali-based piracy, a substantial regional agreement was adopted in 2009 in Djibouti at a high-level meeting convened by IMO. The signatories committed themselves to sharing and reporting relevant information through a system of national focal points. To counter the West-Africa based piracy, the IMO developed an MOU in West and Central Africa that provides a framework for cooperating and guiding combating piracy.

IMO Guidance

International Maritime Organization highlights safe practices that governments, ship owners, crews and ship operators need to put in place to prevent and suppress acts of piracy and armed robbery. IMO does not take any position on the carriage of arms on board ships. It is the mandate of individual flag states and coastal states to determine if it’s appropriate to carry arms or not. IMO also recognized efforts made towards cybersecurity, as a ship’s onboard information technology systems can be hacked. The best way to prevent acts of counter-terrorism and cyber security is through raising awareness.