This article deals with the problem of combating international crime related to violence at sea. The question addressed is whether, according to public international law, all violent acts in the maritime domain, such as maritime piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking and maritime terrorism, can be combined into one legal concept. In order to answer this question, this article takes the traditional notion of “piracy” in the sense used in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and explores the possibility of the notion being extended to encompass the other forms of crime to a concept of “universal maritime crime”. Jurisdictional issues, the difficulties of incorporating the resulting concept into domestic criminal legislation and challenges related to the prosecution of alleged criminals, such as due process and human rights issues, are also considered.
'human smuggling' or 'migrant smuggling' has been defined by Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air as 'smuggling of migrants,' defined as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the shall mean the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident.” With regard to the purpose of the activities, trafficking must involve an exploitative purpose, whereas smuggling only requires that the perpetrator obtain a financial or another material benefit. Regarding the means, the threat or use of force is not a condition, because most people are smuggled willingly. With regard to the nature of the crime, human trafficking often occurs within the borders of a single country, whereas human smuggling is always transnational in nature. The final distinction suggested by Jenna Shearer Demir is that there is also a difference that goes beyond the legal definition, as most adult victims of trafficking are women, whereas most smuggled adults are men.
The security of the maritime domain has become a topical area of concern, with threats thereto manifesting in multiple ways, ranging from military activities at sea to marine litter discharges and noise pollution. As an issue of common interest of the international community, maritime security has ignited some commendable initiatives both internationally and regionally, aimed at setting up new legal and institutional frameworks of cooperation. However, current regimes have proved to be ill-suited to address the globalized maritime challenges of today. It is thus still necessary to merge the priorities of the various stakeholders into a comprehensive maritime security architecture. This article purports to illustrate this state of affairs through a brief analysis of major themes related to maritime security. For its purposes, the analysis in this article is intended to highlight current challenges and issues that should be taken into account by policymakers in the maritime domain.