International Law Studies


Technological developments necessitate a review of long-standing and diverse international legal principles. The law of the sea is no exception in this regard where the introduction of different Maritime Autonomous Vehicles (MAVs) has prompted consideration of how the laws of naval warfare and rules governing the safety of international shipping accommodate these craft. This paper shifts the focus to the international laws relating to maritime security. It assesses how well the existing international legal framework for maritime security can account for the use of MAVs by law enforcement agencies and by non-state actors who are turning to MAVs for criminal purposes. To this end, it analyses the use of MAVs in relation to hot pursuit, the right of visit, drug-trafficking, terrorism, migrant smuggling and search and rescue. The increasing relevance of MAVs for surveillance, including for law enforcement purposes and maritime domain awareness, also demands consideration of MAVs under laws relating to intelligence gathering. At the moment, while we might have disruptive technology, there is not necessarily a call for disruptive law. The addition of MAVs in maritime space tends to highlight shortcomings that already exist within the international legal framework for maritime security.