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The Fight Against Piracy and the Law of the Sea

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image of The Italian Yearbook of International Law Online

This article presents some reflections on the impact on the law of the sea of the Security Council resolutions on piracy off the coasts of Somalia. Although they extend the powers concerning the repression of piracy all States enjoy on the high seas under UNCLOS and customary international law to the territorial sea of Somalia, these resolutions explicitly exclude that such extension modifies the customary rule that limits piracy to the high seas. As such exclusion does not encompass other general rules of the law of the sea relevant for piracy, the resolutions may be read as relevant elements illuminating the meaning of these rules. The rules of UNCLOS on which the Security Council resolutions shed light include Article 3, setting 12 miles as the maximum width of the territorial sea, Article 77, which, read a contrario sensu, states the requirement of express proclamation for the exclusive economic zone, Article 105, second sentence, as regards the States that may establish judicial proceedings against pirates. The peculiar situation of ineffectiveness of governmental authority in Somalia and uncertainty about the maritime zones of this country explain many aspects of the Security Council’s attitude.


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