Peace and Justice
The Unjustified Criminalization of Seafarers
Protecting Seafarers and Societies Against Organized Criminal Networks Specializing in Drug Smuggling
Merchant ships and seafarers are often exploited by smugglers to transport narcotics unknowingly or under coercion. Preventing this abuse helps protect the rights and safety of seafarers who may otherwise be subject to threats, violence, or legal repercussions. It ensures that the maritime industry remains a safe and secure working environment for seafarers.
Preventing smugglers’ abuse of merchant ships and seafarers to smuggle narcotics also brings significant societal benefits, including enhanced public safety, reduced organized crime, protection of seafarers’ rights, improved maritime security, and economic stability. Smuggling of narcotics poses a significant threat to maritime security. By curbing these activities, societies can enhance the security of their coastal waters and international shipping lanes. This supports legitimate trade, strengthens national borders, and protects maritime infrastructure and resources from illicit exploitation.
In some cases, profits from drug smuggling are even used to fund terrorist organizations. By preventing narcotics trafficking, authorities can cut off a significant source of funding for these groups. This helps to combat terrorism and contributes to global efforts to maintain peace and security.
Furthermore, preventing drug smuggling on merchant ships contributes to economic stability and prosperity. It helps maintain the integrity and reputation of ports and shipping lines, attracting legitimate trade and investments. It also reduces the financial burden on governments in terms of healthcare costs, law enforcement, and social welfare, as drug abuse often leads to various societal challenges.
Smuggling narcotics through maritime routes often involves organized criminal networks. By preventing their activities, societies can disrupt and dismantle these criminal networks, reducing their influence and power. This helps to mitigate other criminal activities associated with drug trafficking, such as money laundering, corruption, and violence.
The fight against drug smuggling requires international collaboration and information sharing among nations and this project aims to achieve exactly that. By actively preventing smugglers’ abuse of merchant ships, societies can strengthen partnerships with other countries, foster regional security initiatives, and promote global efforts to combat drug trafficking and transnational organized crime.
Alignment with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 16
Preventing smugglers’ abuse of merchant ships and seafarers to smuggle narcotics supports SDG number 16, which focuses on promoting peace, justice, and strong institutions. Key activities under this SDG include countering illicit financial flows, reducing corruption, strengthening institutions, promoting non-discriminatory laws and policies, and fostering effective and transparent governance.
The most applicable SDG 16 targets include the following:
- Target 16.4 – Reduce illicit financial and arms flows: Smuggling narcotics involves substantial financial transactions, often leading to illicit financial flows. By preventing such abuse, authorities can disrupt these illicit flows, contributing to the goal of reducing illegal financial activities. This helps create a more transparent and accountable financial system, supporting the objectives of SDG 16.4.
- Target 16.5 – Substantially reduce corruption and bribery: Drug smuggling operations often involve corruption, bribery, and the abuse of power. By tackling these illicit activities and preventing the abuse of merchant ships and seafarers, authorities can contribute to reducing corruption and promoting transparency, integrity, and accountability within institutions. This aligns with the aim of SDG 16.5.
- Target 16.A – Strengthen relevant national institutions: To effectively prevent smugglers’ abuse of merchant ships and seafarers, strong institutions are necessary. This includes law enforcement agencies, customs and border control, and judicial systems. By strengthening these institutions, providing necessary resources, and promoting cooperation between nations, authorities can enhance their capacity to combat drug smuggling, supporting SDG 16.A.
- Target 16.B – Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies: Preventing the abuse of merchant ships and seafarers to smuggle narcotics requires the enforcement of laws and policies that promote justice and fairness. This includes ensuring equal treatment and protection of seafarers’ rights, preventing discrimination, and upholding the rule of law. By doing so, authorities can contribute to the promotion and enforcement of non-discriminatory laws and policies, in line with SDG 16.B.
• Target 16.6 – Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions: Combating drug smuggling requires effective and transparent institutions that are accountable to the public. By preventing the abuse of merchant ships and seafarers, authorities can enhance the transparency and accountability of relevant institutions, promoting good governance and contributing to SDG 16.6.
To protect seafarers and societies against organized criminal networks specializing in drug smuggling.
Organizing the Work
The work will be organized in workstreams. For a start, four workstreams are envisioned, but additional workstreams can certainly be considered:
Workstream 1: Improved threat information sharing
To enable law enforcement to effectively counter drug smuggling and inform industry’s security risk assessments and consequent application of appropriate risk mitigation measures.
- An effective mechanism for the maritime industry to share information with law enforcement agencies.
- An effective mechanism for law enforcement agencies to share information between domestic and international law enforcement agencies.
- An effective mechanism for law enforcement agencies to share information with the maritime industry.
Workstream 2: Review IMO Resolution FAL.9(34)
The FAL resolution is a cornerstone document to the maritime industry and given that the document is more than 15 years old it seems timely to review the document to ensure that it aligns with today’s threats and modern shipping industry concepts.
Workstream 3: Develop IMO guidance to port states
The FAL resolution is a cornerstone document to the maritime industry and given that the document is more than 15 years old it seems timely to review the document to ensure that it aligns with today’s threats and modern shipping industry concepts.Purpose: Drug smuggling concepts have developed over the past 15 years and port states should be guided accordingly. This workstream may be a subset of Workstream 2, since the FAL resolution also contains some very overall guidance to port states.
Workstream 4: Data base of incidents, standardised incident reporting and post-incident reporting
Shared knowledge of incidents is necessary to inform relevant law enforcement and industry stakeholders about the threat landscape.
- A standardized method of alerting authorities of incidents.
- A standardized format for post-incident reports.
- A concept for a data base which can house incident alerts as well as post-incident reports.
Eric R. Dawicki
Jakob Paaske Larsen
Capt. Kuba Szymanski
Looking to get involved in this Working Group? Please fill out the following form to request participation in the Working Group.