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Contracted maritime security - are current models accountable, safe, and sustainable?

7 November, 2022



This paper describes the climate at sea that has created an expanding market for contracted security services and some of the main challenges of providing proper regulation and oversight of these services ranging from contested jurisdiction, rapidly evolving business models, a lack of transparency in Flag and Coastal State policies and the practical challenges of exercising oversight at sea.

It also suggests several policy recommendations that could help address these issues.

Concerned about the growing violence at sea, many shipowners and operators have resorted to hiring armed protection services to ensure the safety of vessels and seafarers. While this practice was initially discouraged by most maritime stakeholders, it has now become an accepted part of the commercial shipping industry. Because of the security successes attributed to these contracted guards in the waters off Somalia, their use has grown over time to incorporate larger geographic areas, and several different business models. Some Coastal States have also been keen to cash in on this lucrative market and have developed a menu of armed protection services that are offered to commercial shipping companies.

However, due to the rapidly changing dynamics at sea, and then challenges associated with its complex governance environment, regulatory oversight has lagged behind the employment of these armed security services and remains largely reactionary.