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Addressing Maritime Threats: Maritime Enforcement and the Rule of Law


This issue paper explores the critical relationship between maritime enforcement capability and the rule of law in improving and sustaining a state’s maritime security picture. Maritime enforcement capability - the ability of a state to patrol and enforce laws in its waters - and the rule of law – the state’s ability to put policy into practice - together illustrate the degree to which a state can patrol, police, and govern its maritime space. These two concepts are so closely linked that both are necessarily employed together; one but not the other is largely ineffective in ultimately securing the maritime space.

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  • Without both strong maritime enforcement capacity and established maritime rule of law, maritime security is largely impossible – a large number of naval assets, but a corrupt or underdeveloped legal justice system; or well-developed legal frameworks but no enforcement mechanism will be equally ineffective in combatting maritime threats.

  • Marine governance and security are essential in order for states to capitalize on the potential of its Blue Economy.

  • Strong Maritime Domain Awareness, which relies equally on technology and human understanding of the security picture, as well as cooperation – both among government agencies and within a region – are essential in establishing maritime governance.

  • Traditionally, trainings focused on either maritime enforcement or rule of law, but as understanding of these linkages grows, the two are increasingly being presented together. This paper provides an overview of what we know about maritime illicit trades, how data is collected, what information is available, and which organizations are analyzing these data.

This content was created when Stable Seas was a program of One Earth Future.


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