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The seafarer, piracy and the law: a human rights approach

The seafarer, piracy and the law: a human rights approach

Widd, Peter G. (2008) The seafarer, piracy and the law: a human rights approach. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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Piracy at sea has existed almost since voyaging began and has been effectively subdued from time to time, principally by the Roman Imperial Navy in the 1st C and the British Navy in the 19th C. Over the past twenty five years piracy has once again been increasing such that it has now become of serious concern to the maritime community, in particular the seafarer, who as always bears the brunt of these attacks.

In parallel with piracy itself the laws of piracy have developed from the Rhodian Laws through Roman Law, post Treaty of Westphalia Law both British and American until today the Law of Piracy is embodied in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982. Under this Law piracy can only be committed on the high seas and with UNCLOS increasing the limit of the territorial sea from 3m1. to 12ml. many of the attacks upon shipping today cannot, legally, be classed as piracy but as armed robbery.

Piracy and armed robbery at sea can consist of one or more of the following crimes upon the person: murder, violence actual or implied, rape, torture and disappearance and are considered a violation of the seafarers' human rights. The incidents and court cases cited in the thesis provide the basic information and evidence for this.

On the high seas the flag state has jurisdiction over the ship flying its flag and all on board whatever their nationality. In the territorial sea the coastal state has jurisdiction over the safe passage of a ship and is responsible for maintaining order. Many of the states in whose territorial sea these attacks take place are considered failing states unable to maintain order at sea due to lack of political will, resources and corruption. These are matters of law, international relations and the structure of a globalised maritime industry.

In effect this thesis argues that the flag or coastal State is failing by omission to uphold the human rights of the seafarer over whom it has jurisdiction. The seafarer may be able in one of the Human Rights Courts to obtain redress from these States but there are many prerequisites which are addressed in detail.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: maritime history, human rights, piracy, treaties,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: Greenwich Maritime Institute
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2017 09:32

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