Author: Prakash Panneerselvam and K.G. Ramkumar,for The Diplomat

The region needs to address the growing incidence of piracy and armed robbery before it becomes a serious security concern.

Are incidents of piracy and armed robbery resurfacing in the waterways of Southeast Asia? According to the First Quarter Report from the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP)’s Information Sharing Center, 25 armed robbery incidents against ships were reported in Asia, with the majority occurring in Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS). According to the First Quarter Report, no piracy incidents were reported during this period.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines piracy as any illegal act committed against a ship “in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State.” Therefore, any illegal action against the ships “within a State’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea” is considered an armed robbery, according to the International Maritime Organization’s Code of Practice. The distinction is important because many of the incidents in Southeast Asian waters fall under the category of armed robberies, given the narrow straits that run through the territorial waters or archipelagic waters of the region’s nations.

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Prakash Panneerselvam

Prakash Panneerselvam, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bengaluru.

K.G. Ramkumar, is Adjunct Faculty at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in Bengaluru.

Feature image: The RHFB deployed from the MMEA STAR team members after the anti-piracy demonstration / via Wikimedia Commons