There is no question about the importance of the sea for States and for the international community as a whole. The constant tensions between individual and collective interests has transformed the sea into a space in which three categories of legal regimes coexist: areas of sovereignty, areas of national jurisdiction, and international areas, and pursuant subdivisions. However, such coexistence has not been peaceful, and in many situations, there is a superposition of legal regimes, which consequently create problems of many orders: economic, environmental, humanitarian, security and defense, etc.
Some problems arising from the superposition of legal maritime regimes concern the limits on the use of force at sea by maritime stakeholders linked to the port State, the coastal State, or the flag State of the vessel. The Law of the Sea establishes such limits, but in specific cases, there is a disagreement as to how to follow them.
The examples of these problems are numerous. Notable among these are the discussion on “universal jurisdiction”, the controversies involving a State vessel that is not part of an instrument for the management and conservation of fishery resources, or the challenges inherent to the adoption of flags of convenience. These problems end up converging on a single theme, namely, the use of force at sea to combat illicit and sometimes criminal practices.
Numerous legal instruments are in force with respect to the use of force at sea. This multiplicity of rules implies, in turn, a plurality of maritime stakeholders. Such an international legal order on the use of force is not always consistent and sufficient to deal with the real problems faced by States.
For this reason, the Scientific Research Program MERCRO was established within the scope of the International Law Center (CDI, in the French acronym), linked to the International, European and Comparative Law Team (EDIEC, in the French acronym) of University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, in Lyon, France. MERCRO was created to analyze the legal consequences of the superposition of legal regimes in relation to the effectiveness of the police at sea and proposes solutions to the identified inconsistencies and impasses. MERCRO is financed by the National Research Agency (ANR, in the French acronym) and coordinated by Professor Kiara Neri.
Before producing reports, articles, or books with the results of their research, the MERCRO researchers must make a preliminary survey of maritime users and stakeholders on the concrete problems faced in the daily exercise of their activities, whether this be in maritime areas under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of the coastal State or on the high seas.
This survey is already being carried out. To this effect, specific questionnaires about the respective activities are being disseminated and forwarded to users and stakeholders. Such questionnaires are available in electronic format in Portuguese, French, English, and Spanish.
For statistical reasons, it is necessary to reach as many people as possible. All maritime users and stakeholders are invited to answer the questionnaire! They can access the link and answer it, which only takes a few minutes. It should be clarified that the respondent’s anonymity is absolutely guaranteed, and no personal data is collected.
The results of the analysis of the questionnaires will be presented during the MERCRO conference to be held in June 2021 and published on the official website, in condensed version, to be downloaded as a pdf document. In addition, scientific articles will be produced from the answers obtained in the questionnaires.
If you are a maritime user or a stakeholder, contribute to the MERCRO survey by answering the electronic questionnaire. Thank you!
It was written by André de Paiva Toledo, member of the BILOS Executive Board and postdoctoral researcher of the Team MERCRO.