Responsibility for Human Rights Violations Arising from the Use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel against Piracy. Re-Emphasizing the Primary Role and Obligations of Flag States
SHARES Research Paper 58 (2014), ACIL 2014-30
Published in: Cedric Ryngaert, Erik J. Molenaar and Sarah M.H. Nouwen (eds.), What's Wrong with International Law? Liber Amicorum A.H.A. Soons (Brill/Nijhoff, 2015), pp. 30-47.
Maritime piracy is an ancient problem that harms, either directly or indirectly, many states as well as non-state actors. Although the law on piracy seems in principle adequately equipped to deal with the problem, states have not been able to fully repress piracy, and navies have not been able to sufficiently protect commercial vessels against attacks. As a consequence, ship-owners have started to hire Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) in order to protect vessel, cargo and crew. The task of a flag state to provide security to commercial vessels flying its flag is increasingly being outsourced. As a result, accountability issues may arise from the conduct of PCASP operating on board a commercial vessel. The need to regulate PCASP operating at sea is more widely acknowledged. The focus of this chapter is on the role and obligations, under both international human rights law and the law of the sea, of flag states. The possibility of (flag) state responsibility, and the practice of the Netherlands in this context will also be discussed. The chapter will end with some concluding remarks on whether international law is adequately developed and tailored to deal with the issue at hand.