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Maritime Security – The Need for a Global Agreement


  • Dinos Stasinopoulos

    () (European Union Fellow at the European Union Center, University Center for International Studies, University of Pittsburgh, USA.)


This note reviews US maritime security measures, outlines work carried out by international organisations and then frames maritime security within the wider context of maritime trade. Finally, it suggests the development of a Global Agreement linking security and other maritime trade-related issues. The initiative for such an agreement should be undertaken by the EU only if current International Maritime Organisation (IMO) efforts fail to produce a maritime security framework with binding requirements and after the wider impact of US security measures has been properly assessed (Flynn, 2002). The September 11 events have revealed the soft underbelly of globalisation. The liberalisation of markets and the resulting facilitation of trade and travel allow terrorists to do their worst. Existing border-management architectures provide no guarantees that terrorists can be prevented from reaching their targets. Furthermore, market pressures are now forcing transport companies to embrace higher standards and adopt technologies and processes that can make border control less relevant. Preoccupation with the urgency of domestic security issues has encouraged the US to develop security standards and urge the rest of the world to adopt their approach or to engage in direct negotiations with them. The US approach is two-fold: it is based on the early detection and interception of terrorists (by moving control away from borders to points-of-origin) who seek to exploit or target the international transport networks coupled with cooperation on data gathering and information sharing.fn1 These two aspects have shaped US initiatives and legislations such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI) (US Customs 2002), the ‘Port and Maritime Security Act of 2001’ and the ‘Maritime Transportation Antiterrorism Act of 2002’.fn2 These two legislative Acts and the CSI initiative aim at enhancing security, while at the same time furthering US strategic interests in security-related trade issues and strengthening the US maritime industry's position in order to make it more competitive (Lloyd's List, February 2002). There is a need to study the wider implications of US maritime security initiatives and assess US intentions within the context of international maritime trade. US-driven maritime security initiatives and the current fragmentation of efforts of international organisations such as IMO, World Customs Organisation, International Labour Organisation, and International Standards Organisation, if are not checked by the international maritime community (through a global agreement), may ultimately enable the US to impose its requirements on the rest of the world and affect the operations of international shipping. There is no doubt that current efforts to secure new maritime security consensus through the IMO is a step in the right direction. The amended Chapter XI of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and the Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) although fundamental to a global security do not cover containers. However, given the multiplicity of actors involved, existing arrangements may not guarantee the required coordination in particular with the WCO. Furthermore, it is not certain that input from the various organisations with varying degrees of expertise will dovetail with IMO work already underway. In order to deal with the consequences and pitfalls of the US initiatives and cope with the fragmentation of international efforts, the development of a Global Agreement should be considered to weld all the stakeholders in a legally binding international framework. A Global Agreement may prove to be a much more cost-effective way of enhancing maritime security globally and restraining US ‘hegemonic’ ambitions and unilateralism in maritime trade. Maritime Economics & Logistics (2003) 5, 311–320. doi:10.1057/palgrave.mel.9100080

Suggested Citation

  • Dinos Stasinopoulos, 2003. "Maritime Security – The Need for a Global Agreement," Maritime Economics & Logistics, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME), vol. 5(3), pages 311-320, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:marecl:v:5:y:2003:i:3:p:311-320

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    Cited by:

    1. Papa, Paola, 2013. "US and EU strategies for maritime transport security: A comparative perspective," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 75-85.

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