part 1 of a 2-part series

Immediately following this week’s DOD Bloggers Roundtable on the Coast Guard’s global anti-piracy efforts, I submitted a question to CAPT Chuck Michel, USCG, Chief, Office of Maritime and International Law, about the CG’s role in building legal capacity. My sincere appreciation to him for a thorough and informative response.

Readers of this blog know that law enforcement is one of our nation’s instruments of power. It is the “L” in DIMEFIL. CAPT Michel’s response is well worth reading since it outlines several USCG initiatives in support of the law enforcement instrument of power.

So here is my question and the response I received from CAPT Chuck Michel:

Q: What is the USCG’s role in building legal capacity of nations impacted by piracy?

Michel: The Coast Guard is working with our interagency partners to assist East and West African regional states and victim states in building the necessary capacity to deliver consequences to pirates. Counter-piracy operations are primarily a maritime law enforcement activity that the Coast Guard is trained and equipped to support. We are the competent authority for the U.S. government on more than 30 bilateral agreements with foreign partners that are key components in a wide range of Coast Guard operations including counter-drug, migrant interdiction, fisheries enforcement, and the Proliferation Security Initiative operations. The Coast Guard understands the domestic and international legal frameworks and the associated boarding and enforcement requirements necessary to ensure the successful negotiation and implementation of agreements to facilitate counter-piracy operations on the water and the delivery of legal consequences to the pirates ashore. A number of initiatives are underway:

1. Coast Guard attorneys were actively involved in the negotiation of the US/Kenya MOU on the transfer and prosecution of pirates that was signed on 16 January 2009. Discussions are ongoing for the development of implementing arrangements to ensure that the agreement functions properly. This will include a package of training and assistance for Kenyan prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, as well as for U.S. Navy and Coast Guard personnel.

2. In late January 2009, the Coast Guard led the U.S. delegation for final negotiations in Djibouti on regional cooperation to combat piracy. This agreement called the Djibouti Code of Conduct, signed by 9 regional nations so far, provides a legal framework for the interdiction and prosecution of pirates. It contains such practical measures as a shiprider program and the development of information sharing and operational coordination mechanisms.

3. The Coast Guard provides the Head of U.S. Delegation to International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings and activities. IMO activities to combat the threat have included an IMO Assembly Resolution establishing a framework for international cooperation, work throughout the region to develop a cooperation agreement between stakeholder countries to create the legal and operational framework for regional States to combat the threat (resulting in the adoption of the Djibouti Code of Conduct), updated counter-piracy guidance to industry, and, perhaps most importantly, IMO provided technical cooperation to promote judicial consequence delivery mechanisms so that pirates, once caught, face meaningful and just punishment under the rule of law.

To be continued……

Initiatives 4-6 will be detailed in tomorrow’s post so be sure to check back.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Coast Guard, Foreign Policy, Maritime Security

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