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Bolstering the Proliferation Security Initiative at Sea: A Comparative Analysis of Ship-boarding as a Bilateral and Multilateral Implementing Mechanism

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The political significance of the PSI – and the implementation thereof – cannot reap its maximum potential if it is not supported by an adequate legal framework to regulate, inter alia, the interdiction of suspect vessels. The US Administration, very much the leading actor behind the Initiative, has been at the forefront of the efforts to develop an accompanying and effective international legal system, both at bilateral and multilateral levels, following the blueprint of what has already been accomplished in the area of counter-narcotics interdiction. However, the consent of the States involved remains paramount even within the context of the bilateral and multilateral agreements elaborated so far. These agreements, which are examined and compared in the article, in many ways do not attain the same sophistication as that of the counter-narcotics agreements. This is probably unavoidable, in light of the largely discretionary nature of the key concepts of the PSI, such as the definition of what are States or non-State actors of proliferation concern.

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