The 2005 Protocols to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, abbreviated as “SUA 2005”, has now undergone two major ratifications.
The 2005 protocol, as such was evolved from the 1971 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft.
The convention, broadly aims to take appropriate action on people committing unlawful acts against ships. The convention laid the following broad outlines as criminal offenses.
- Seizing control of a ship by force or threat of force;
- Committing an act of violence against a person on ship if it is likely to endanger the safety of the ship;
- Destroying or damaging a ship or its cargo in such a way that endangers the safe navigation of the ship;
- Placing or causing to be placed on a ship a device or substance which is likely to destroy or cause damage to the ship or its cargo;
- Destroying or damaging a ship’s navigation facilities or interfering with their operation if it is likely to endanger the safety of the ship;
- Communicating information which is known to be false, thereby endangering the safety of the navigation of a ship;
- Injuring or killing anyone while committing 1–6;
- Attempting, being an accomplice to or compelling another through threats to commit any of 1–7.
This is the first international instrument that addresses certain types of terrorism at sea and the illicit transportation of weapons of mass destructions via ships. When the IMO’s legal committee considered bringing in certain amendments in the year 2002, it was the United States who originally came up with the necessary points for the amendments in the SUA convention.
The U.S. Embassy Counselor for Environment, Science & Technology and Health Mr. Edward P. Heartney, submitted the instruments of ratification with the IMO’s director for Legal Affairs and External Relations Mr. Frederick Kenney.