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M/V Enrica Lexie and the regulation of armed security personnel on board merchant vessels

SW1.17 Somerset House East Wing
29/06/2016 (18:00-19:30)

Speaker: Dr Alexandros X.M. Ntovas, Lecturer in International Shipping Law, Queen Mary University of London, School of Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies

The shipboard deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel on board merchant vessels has been the most significant and effective counter-piracy development in the last few years. With the situation off the Somali coast in mind, the UN Security Council has encouraged the implementation inter alia of such self-protection measures, while the International Maritime Organization, with the support of the International Standardization Organization, has established a consultative process for setting international minimum standards for the certification and employment of such units. However, the present paper views that such personnel still operate outside a hard – and generally acceptable – international legal framework. Various by-laws and guidelines, as well as other interim recommendations and criteria, at the moment only constitute either soft-law or have been primarily developed by the private sector in the context of few flag-States domestic law.  In addition, crucial questions in principle are still unsettled, as manifested for example in the ongoing litigation, on both national and international level, regarding the M/T Enrica Lexie incident. The need thus for adopting a uniform policy, guided by the rule of law, which does not lack a realistic market rationale, is at the moment highlighted by the increasingly volatile situation among traditionally pirate-infested and other newly affected sea regions. 

Dr Alexandros X.M. Ntovas joined Queen Mary's Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), in January 2016 as a Lecturer in Shipping Law. Prior to that, he had held a law lectureship in international law at the University of Southampton Law School, where he was also a Governing Board Member of the Institute of Maritime Law. His background amalgamates the broader legal disciplines of international and European law, at both public and private level, with political analysis and international relations, as these find a common expression in the context of shipping law, the law of the sea and oceanic policy. He has practiced public and administrative law, and acted on numerous occasions as a policy advisor to governments, including the European Union, the public sector and the shipping industry. His expertise within CCLS lies in admiralty, with a focus on wet shipping law, navigational freedoms and practice, as well as in all issues regarding piracy and other aspects of contemporary safety and security of ships, ports and offshore installations.

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