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Note: Coast Guard should adopt rules governing private contractors who defend ships from pirates

Piracy has reemerged with a vengeance in the twenty-first century. Although it is confined primarily to the horn of Africa, piracy poses a significant problem to commercial shipping companies that need to traverse the Gulf of Aden for business. In response to modern-day piracy, ship owners have begun to employ privately armed contractors for protection. Countries and international organizations have recently developed regulations to address this growth in private maritime security. This Note analyzes both international and domestic regulatory regimes for privately armed contractors with a specific focus on the United States and Norway. This Note concludes that current U.S. regulations are inadequate and do not sufficiently restrain private contractors’ use of force when combating pirates at sea. Consequently, this Note recommends that the United States Coast Guard use its administrative authority to publish binding rules of engagement for private contractors defending U.S.-flagged vessels.

By Sean Mahard, Editor in Chief

Sean’s article will appear in the journal’s January issue. Keep an eye on our website for updates, and subscribe to the journal here.


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