UNCLOS imposes burden on states to curtail piracy and facilitates their doing so
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Not only does the Convention provide a clear definition of piracy and basis for capture and prosecution of pirates, it also imposes an affirmative obligation upon parties to make efforts to curtail piracy.144 Critics of the Convention argue that it actually impedes the United States’ ability to chase and capture pirates because a ship must cease pursuit if the ship it is chasing enters its own or a third state’s territorial waters.145 They assert that this provision provides pirates with a safe haven to retreat to undeterred, and that the Convention prevents non-territorial state ships from pursuing the pirates.146 This is troubling largely because of the strong presence of Somali pirates.147 For example, under this provision, Somali pirates can attack ships and if they risk getting captured, rush back into their own state’s territorial waters where they would be safe. Somalia, a nation plagued by its own problems of lawlessness and poverty, is in no position to apprehend these criminals.148 In such a circumstance, however, the United States can assert that Article 100 of Part VII of the Convention, which imposes upon member parties the duty to cooperate in the repression of piracy, gives it the authority to continue pursuit.149 Somalia is a party to the Convention and where it cannot assist in apprehending and trying pirates, it must cooperate with others who can. This includes permitting states that are working to repress piracy by pursuing pirates to do so within Somalia’s territorial waters.150 Furthermore, a December 2008 United Nations Security Council resolution called upon states to actively assist in combating piracy off of the coast of Somalia and gives them the authority to “undertake all necessary measures ‘appropriate in Somalia’ ” in furtherance of this end for a period of one year.151 In April of 2010, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution that calls upon states to criminalize piracy under their domestic law and consider prosecution of and imprisonment of apprehended Somali pirates.152 This resolution also seeks a report from the Secretary General of the United Nations to present options for purposes of “prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia.”153 Given this explicit guidance to counter piracy coupled with the Convention’s anti-piracy provisions, criticism that the Convention would preclude apprehending pirates does not hold up.
Ratifying LOSC will also enhance U.S. counter-piracy efforts by improving America’s ability to shape the legal authorities the international community relies on to combat piracy, especially in instances where existing agreements do not account for advancements in technology.