Weapons on Vessels? States, Private Security & Responding to Threats

Weapons on Vessels? States, Private Security & Responding to Threats

On November 17th 2017, Oceans Beyond Piracy co-hosted an event titled "Weapons on Vessels? States, Private Security & Responsibility for Responding to Maritime Threats" with Chatham House in London. At the event, the speakers discussed different models of contracted maritime security, the responsibilities for accountability and possible oversight mechanisms which could be used to address this issue.  Participants included:

  • Karsten Von Hoesslin, Host, Lawless Oceans, National Geographic Series
  • Dr Alex Vines OBE, Research Director, Area Studies and International Law; Head, Africa Programme, Chatham House
  • Jon Huggins, Senior Advisor, Oceans Beyond Piracy program, One Earth Future
  • Conrad Thorpe OBE, CEO, Salama Fikira
  • Dr. Ioannis Chapsos, Research Fellow in Maritime Security, Coventry University
  • HE Yackoley Kokou Johnson, Permanent Representative of Togo to the United Nations Office, Geneva
  • Stephen Askins, Partner, Tatham McInnes
  • Chair: Dr. Eva Pejsova, Senior Analyst, European Union Institute for Security Studies

Recent reports document a proliferation of contracted maritime security models to protect commercial vessels in territorial and international waters. These are especially prevalent in areas with heightened threats of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, in the Gulf of Guinea and in parts of South East Asia. With rising industry demand, traditional models of contracted security have increasingly been interchanged with models offering unregulated commercial guards, as well as government forces providing security for a fee. This has raised concerns about ensuring oversight and use-of-force policies, and some of these models challenge the responsibility or authority of littoral states in providing a safe environment for maritime commerce. In a worst-case scenario, lack of training, control and accountability could put lives at risk and result in the unregulated flow of weapons.

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