Maritime Enforcement and Rule of Law

Addressing Maritime Threats: Maritime Enforcement and the Rule of Law

Release Date: June 1, 2018
Chuck Ridgway
Publication Type: Discussion Paper


This issue paper explores the critical relationship between maritime enforcement capability and the rule of law in improving and sustaining a state’s maritime security picture. Maritime enforcement capability -  the ability of a state to patrol and enforce laws in its waters - and the rule of law – the state’s ability to put policy into practice - together illustrate the degree to which a state can patrol, police, and govern its maritime space. These two concepts are so closely linked that both are necessarily employed together; one but not the other is largely ineffective in ultimately securing the maritime space.

Key Findings

  • Without both strong maritime enforcement capacity and established maritime rule of law, maritime security is largely impossible – a large number of naval assets, but a corrupt or underdeveloped legal justice system; or well-developed legal frameworks but no enforcement mechanism will be equally ineffective in combatting maritime threats.
  • Marine governance and security are essential in order for states to capitalize on the potential of its Blue Economy.
  • Strong Maritime Domain Awareness, which relies equally on technology and human understanding of the security picture, as well as cooperation – both among government agencies and within a region – are essential in establishing maritime governance.
  • Traditionally, trainings focused on either maritime enforcement or rule of law, but as understanding of these linkages grows, the two are increasingly being presented together.