Maritime Autonomous Vehicles and Drug Trafficking by Sea: Some Legal Issues

In: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
Rob McLaughlin Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong Australia
Senior Fellow, US Naval War College Stockton Centre for International Law Newport, RI United States

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Natalie Klein Faculty of Law and Justice, University of New South Wales Sydney Sydney Australia

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Among the new technologies being deployed at sea, maritime autonomous vehicles (MAV) are of increasing interest to States to enhance their intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to improve their maritime security. This article analyses the international law implications of this use of MAV to support maritime law enforcement efforts in response to drug trafficking and other crimes at sea. The use of MAV for criminal purposes, especially smuggling goods, also holds international law consequences. The article assesses how these different operations of MAV fit within existing legal regimes, highlighting emerging legal questions for resolution and setting out recommendations for law reform to enhance counter-smuggling operations at sea.

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