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Novel Threats

Image by Helio Dilolwa


  • to map out the novel threats to EU maritime security with particular emphasis being placed on threats against human security, energy, and marine biodiversity; 

  • examine whether the current legal framework is adequate to address them. 

Description of work

The research on this WP will consist mainly of a mapping-out exercise on the novel threats to the EU maritime security and a legal assessment of the potential challenges that such threats will bring to the international law as it stands.

Evidently, the current state of affairs in maritime security has moved beyond traditional concerns, such as piracy or drug trafficking, to a convoluted web of maritime threats challenging both foundational State interest as well as communal concerns, such as human rights and the environment. In its Revised EUMSS Action Plan the EU has indicated amongst others ‘the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN), cyber and hybrid threats, terrorism and organised crime, human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants, pollution and environmental impact as well as the protection of critical maritime infrastructure, including underwater, and in particular maritime transport, energy and communication infrastructure’ (Council Conclusions on the Revision of the European Union Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) Action Plan (26 June 2018)). Another novel and very challenging threat to maritime security is the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU fishing), which has catastrophic repercussions on States’ economies (illegal fishing accounts for -20% of global marine fish catches, and is worth an estimated $10-23,5 billion), food security, and the conservation of marine biodiversity, and sustainable development. To add to the complexity, it is readily observed that transnational maritime threats are closely intertwined (e.g. fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing often traffic drugs and other illegal products or involved in migrant smuggling).

Is the international legal framework as it stands today adequate to address these threats? Can these novel threats be addressed within the parameters of the present-day construction or do they necessitate further adjustment or even the creation of a new regulatory framework? This work will be self-standing, i.e. it will take the form of a single research paper, in the form of a technical report to be published online, but at the same time forward-looking, in the sense that it will inform significantly the other three strands of the research since it is necessary to have understood well the threats under consideration prior to assessing whether the legal responses are fit for purpose. 

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