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Interdicting Vessels to Enforce the Common Interest: Maritime Countermeasures and the use of Force

  • Douglas Guilfoyle

Abstract

Can the law of countermeasures be used to police the high seas? The freedom of the high seas is guaranteed by the immunity of a State's flag vessels from interference by the public vessels of other States, subject to limited exceptions. However, this rule of non-interference may shield those engaged in unregulated or illegal fishing or transporting weapons of mass destruction and their precursors. This article argues that while such conduct may breach obligations protecting the common interest, unilaterally boarding and arresting a vessel involved would constitute an illegal use of force and cannot be justified as a countermeasure.

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1 Bederman, DJ, “Counterintuiting Countermeasures” (2002) 96 AJIL 817, 818; Cannizzaro, E, ‘The Role of Proportionality in the Law of International Countermeasures’ (2001) 12 EJIL 889, 890 and see the International Law Commission commentary reproduced in Crawford, J, The International Law Commission's Articles on State Responsibility: Introduction, Text, and Commentaries (CUP, Cambridge, 2002) 281 at (1) [hereinafter, ‘ILC Commentary in Crawford’].

2 Art 49, International Law Commission, The Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts, annexed to UNGA Res 56/83 (28 Jan 2002) [hereinafter ‘Articleson State Responsibility’]; and see the ILC commentary reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 284–7.

3 Art 42, Articles on State Responsibility (n 2); and the ILC Commentary in Crawford (n 1) 260.

4 ibid; cf Weiss, EB, ‘Invoking State Responsibility in the Twenty-First Century’ (2002) 96 AJIL 798, 802 ff.

5 See Rayfuse, R, Non-Flag State Enforcement (Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden, 2004) 347 and 372–3; Heintschel von Heinegg, W, ‘The Proliferation Security Initiative: Security vs Freedom of Navigation?’ (2005) 35 Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 181.

6 Heintschel von Heinegg (n 5) 200–1; cf Kaye, S, ‘The Proliferation Security Initiative in the Maritime Domain’ (2005) 35 Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 205, 223–4.

7 Rayfuse, R, ‘Countermeasures and High Seas Fisheries Enforcement’ (2004) 51 Netherlands International Law Review 41, 63–5; Rayfuse (n 5) 347 and 372.

8 Rayfuse (n 7) 55 and 59; Rayfuse (n 5) 373. Duties to cooperate are found in Art 117, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, (1994) 1833 UNTS 3 [hereinafter ‘UNCLOS’]and Art 8, The United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 Dec 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, 1995, 2167 UNTS 88. See the discussion accompanying (n 23)–(n 25), below.

9 Lotus case, PCIJ Series A, No 10, 1927, 4 at 25; Art 6(1), High Seas Convention, 1958, (1963) 450 UNTS 82; Art 92(1), UNCLOS.

10 Art 2(4), Charter of the United Nations, UNCIO XV, 335; amendments by General Assembly Resolution in UNTS 557, 143/638, 308/892, 119; Art 50(1)(a), Articles on State Responsibility (n 2).

11 Rayfuse, (n 7) 74.

12 Kaye, (n 6) 218.

13 Allen, CH, ‘Limits on the Use of Force in Maritime Operations in Support of WMD Counter-Proliferation Initiatives’ (2005) 35 Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 115, 125.

14 Art 48, Articles on State Responsibility (n 2).

15 Arts 54 and 48, Articles on State Responsibility (n 2).

16 ILC commentary reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 283 at (8); Rayfuse, R, ‘Countermeasures and High Seas Fisheries Enforcement’ (2004) 51 Netherlands International Law Review 41, 49.

17 ILC commentary reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 283 at (8).

18 ibid 305 at (6).

19 Tams, C, Enforcing Obligations Erga Omnes in International Law (CUP, Cambridge, 2005) 231 (emphasis added).

20 ILC commentary reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 302–5; Tarns (n 19) 209–28.

21 ibid.The ILC commentary cites eight such episodes, Tams cites 13.

22 Rayfuse, (n 7) 49.

23 ibid 64.

24 ibid 55 and 59; FSA cited at (n 8).

25 ILC Commentary to Art 42(b)(i) and Art 48(1)(b) of the Articles on State Responsibility (n 2), reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 259 at (12) and 278 (10).

26 Cannizzaro, (n 1) 913–14.

27 Fisheries Jurisdiction Case (Spain v Canada) [1993] ICJ Reports 432, 433–44, para 20.

28 See, eg, Baird, R, ‘CCAMLR Initiatives to Counter Flag State Non-Enforcement in Southern Ocean Fisheries’ (2006) VUW Law Review 733, 745–6; the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission port State scheme has also been described as a ‘success story’: NEAF Commission, Report of the Permanent Committee on Control and Enforcement (11–12 Oct 2005), 8 and 36 (available at <http://www.neafc.org/reports/peccoe/docs/peccoe_oct-2005.pdf>).

29 Baird, (n 28) 740.

31 See, eg, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources' website <http://www.ccamlr.Org/pu/e/gen-intro.htm>.

32 Regarding surveillance of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission area, see 2005 Report of the Secretary of State of Commerce to the Congress of the United States concerning US actions taken on foreign large-scale high seas driftnet fishing (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Washington DC, 2005) 4 (copy on file with author).

33 Preamble and para 2, SC Res 1540 (2004).

34 Heinegg, Heintschel von (n 5) 200.

34a See paras 8(a), 8 (b) and 8(f), SC Res 1718 (2006).

35 ibid 200–1.

36 UNSC Verbatim Record (22 Apr 2004), UN Doc S/PV.4950 (Resumption 1), 14 (Nepal).

37 S/PV.4950, 6.

38 ibid 3 (Philippines), 4 (Brazil), 5 (Algeria), 8 (France); S/PV.4950 (Resumption 1), 15 (Nigeria).

39 Simpson, G, Great Powers and Outlaw States: Unequal Sovereigns in the International Legal Order (CUP, Cambridge, 2004) 67; Farer, T, ‘Beyond the Charter Frame: Unilateralism or Condominium?’ (2002) 96 AJIL 359, 363–4; Weil, P, ‘Towards Relative Normativity in International Law’ (1983) 77 AJIL 413, 432–3; Marek, K, ‘Criminalizing State Responsibility’ (19781979) 14 RBDI 460, 481 ff; contra Tams, (n 19) 230 and 240.

40 If, indeed, the doctrine survives the UN Charter, see: Simma, B (ed), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary (2nd edn, OUP, Oxford, 2002) vol 1, 803; Franck, T, Recourse to Force: State Action Against Threats and Armed Attacks (CUP, Cambridge, 2002) 97108; Brownlie, I, International Law and the Use of Force by States (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1963) 258–61; Bowett, DW, Self-Defence in International Law (MUP, Manchester, 1958) 189–93.

41 Guilfoyle, D, ‘The Proliferation Security Initiative: Interdicting Vessels in International Waters to Prevent the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction?’ (2005) 29 MULR 733, 739; see also Roach, J, ‘Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI): Countering Proliferation by Sea’ in Nordquist, M, Moore, J, and Fu, K (eds), Recent Developments in the Law of the Sea and China (Center for Oceans Law and Policy, 10) (Martinus Nijhoff, Leiden, 2006) 351424.

42 ibid 735–6; Byers, M, ‘Policing the High Seas: The Proliferation Security Initiative’ (2004)98 AJIL 526, 526.

43 See Guilfoyle, D, ‘Maritime Interdiction of Weapons of Mass Destruction’ forthcoming(2007) 12(1) Journal of Conflict and Security Law; Heinegg, Heintschel von (n 5) 193–4.

44 Art 50, Articles on State Responsibility (n 2).

45 See the ILC Commentary to the Articles on State Responsibility (n 2), reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 288–9 at (4) and (5).

46 Rayfuse, (n 7) 74.

47 Kaye, (n 5) 218.

48 ibid; cf Bowett, (n 24) 152.

49 Franck, (n 24) 12; Brownlie, (n 24) 265–8; Simma, (n 24) 123–4.

50 Fleck, D (ed), The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts (OUP, Oxford, 1995) 2; Raab, D, ‘“Armed Attack” after the Oil Platforms Case’ (2004) 17 Leiden Journal of International Law 719, 727; Gray, C, ‘The British Position with Regard to the Gulf Conflict (Iran-Iraq): Part 2? (1991) 40 ICLQ 464, 469; Lowe, V, ‘Self-Defence at Sea’, in Butler, W (ed), The Non-Use of Force in International Law (1989) 189; cf Case Concerning Oil Platforms (Islamic Republic of Iran v United States of America), Judgment [2003] ICJ Reports 161, 191, para 64. Some authorities are ambiguous as to whether self-defence would only arise if a military vessel is attacked: Bowett, (n 24) 71; Art 6, North Atlantic Treaty, 1949, 34 UNTS 243 as amended by Protocol to the North Atlantic Treaty on the Accession of Greece and Turkey, 1951, 126 UNTS 350.

51 Shaw, M, International Law (5th edn, CUP, Cambridge, 2003) 1042–3; Aust, A, Handbook of International Law (CUP, Cambridge, 2005) 224.

52 cf Case Concerning the Arrest Warrant of 11 April 2000 (Democratic Republic of the Congo v Belgium), Judgment [2003] ICJ Reports 3, 169, para 49 (Diss Op Judge Van Den Wyngaert).

53 See, eg, Art 17, UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988, 185 UNTS 453; Art 6, Agreement on illicit traffic by sea, implementing Art 17 of the United Nations Convention against illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, 1995, ETS No 156; para 1, Agreement to facilitate the interdiction by the United States of vessels of the United Kingdom suspected of trafficking in drugs, 1981, 1285 UNTS 197; Art 5, Treaty between the Kingdom of Spain and the Italian Republic to Combat Illicit Drug Trafficking at Sea, 1990, 1776 UNTS 229. The US also has at least 24 such agreements with neighbouring countries.

54 See the references at (n 9), above.

55 Greig, D., International Law (2nd edn, Butterworths, London, 1976) 333–4; McDougaland, MS and Burke, WT, The Public Order of the Oceans (New Haven, New Haven Press, 1985) 881 ff; Reuland, R, ‘Interference with Non-National Ships on the High Seas: Peacetime Exceptions to the Exclusivity Rule of Flag-State Jurisdiction’ (1989) 22 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 1161, 1190.

56 See generally Hunnings, N, ‘Pirate Broadcasting in European Waters’ (1965) 14 ICLQ 410; Van Panhuys, H and Van Emde Boas, M, ‘Legal Aspects of Pirate Broadcasting: A Dutch Approach’ (1966) 60 AJIL 303; Robertson, H Jr, ‘The Suppression of Pirate Radio Broadcasting: A Test Case of the International System for Control of Activities outside National Territory’ (1982) 45 Law & Contemporary Problems 71.

57 Bederman, (n 1) 831.

58 ibid 827; ILC commentary reproduced in Crawford (n 1) 281 at (3).

* Research student, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge. I am grateful to the anonymous referee, Professor James Crawford, Dr Andrew Lang, and Ms Kimberley Trapp for their helpful comments.

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