On 23 June, an article on Lawfare considered if the US could interdict vessels carrying oil etc from Iran to Venezuela. It considers customary international law and the law of the sea in the form of 2 international treaties, one of which (the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS) the US has not ratified. It is said that both treaty and customary international law proscribe state interference with foreign-flagged vessels outside exceptional circumstances. It warns that eroding flag-state sovereignty on the high seas would be of immense value to less scrupulous state actors or those seeking to radically reshape the world order, and the potentially dangerous effects of abridging traditional freedoms on the high seas must outweigh short-term foreign policy benefits.
[from a personal view, having been involved in such questions – and drafting an arrangement to authorise boardings – that proved to work in practice only days later, I can testify that it is not as clear and easy to tackle vessels in international waters as one might presume…]
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