Developing the Concept of Maritime Piracy: A Comparative Legal Analysis of International Law and Domestic Criminal Legislation

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Ilja Van Hespen Belgian Navy Royal Military Academy (KMS), Ghent University (U Gent), and Free University of Brussels (VUB) Belgium1

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This article deals with the problem of combating international crime related to violence at sea. The question addressed is whether, according to public international law, all violent acts in the maritime domain, such as maritime piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking and maritime terrorism, can be combined into one legal concept. In order to answer this question, this article takes the traditional notion of “piracy” in the sense used in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and explores the possibility of the notion being extended to encompass the other forms of crime to a concept of “universal maritime crime”. Jurisdictional issues, the difficulties of incorporating the resulting concept into domestic criminal legislation and challenges related to the prosecution of alleged criminals, such as due process and human rights issues, are also considered.

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