The 1982 UN convention on the law of the sea and piracy : a case study of piracy off the Somali Coast in 2005-2009
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the main treaty dealing with all maritime affairs. The treaty criminalizes the offence of piracy. Piracy has become a major topic for intellectual analysis in the world today in terms of how to respond and contain the menance.This study will seek to find out whether the treaty effectively curbs piracy. It will carry out this investigation agairtst the backdrop of piracy off Somalia's coast in 2005-2009. Moreover, the study will seek to identify the methods and means under the treaty that are used to address the piracy problem. This will entail a detailed analysis of the provisions enshrined in the treaty and singling out what anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms exist for purposes of evaluating their efficacy. The study will further identify areas of cooperation that states employ in order to manage and control piracy. The study is an exploratory one. It has formulated a problem for more precise investigations and shall develop research questions. The method of data collection shall incorporate the use of open ended questionnaires as well as structured interviews. The study shall obtain primary data using the random sampling method from a wide cross section of the population. The target population of the study shall be those who have interacted with the subject either directly or indirectly. This study further adopts the concept of universal jurisdiction as its conceptual framework. This is because one cannot talk about piracy without talking about universal jurisdiction. This concept is the basis upon which states exercise their rights to prosecute pirates captured in the high seas. The study will conclude that the 1982 treaty has to be changed to incorporate developments associated with modem piracy because more and more piratical attacks are now happening in the territorial waters.Secondly,the study will conclude that terrorism should be included as piracy according to the law of nations in order to pre-empt the defence of hijacking ships for political ends as that does not constitute piracy. Moreover, the study will also conclude that there is need for states to enter into and enforce regional bilateral and multilateral treaties to combat piracy, a window allowed under the 1982 treaty. Again, the study will conclude that there is need to establish an ad hoc international piracy court with universal compulsory jurisdiction to try pirates. Lastly, the study will conclude that there is need for states to interpret provisions that exist in treaties liberally as allowed by Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties so that meanings can be given to new prevailing situations that had not been foreseen.
University of Nairobi, Kenya