Security law

Guidelines for Grey Zone Naval Incidents: Distinguishing between the Rules of Armed Conflict and Law Enforcement

By: Alexander Lott

PDF Version: Alexander Lott_Guidelines for Grey Zone Naval Incidents_NCLOSblog_290422

Matter commented on: Hybrid naval warfare; Distinction between naval warfare and maritime law enforcement

1. Introduction

This short blog post aims to provide guidance for parties to hybrid naval warfare for determining whether the rules of armed conflict or law enforcement are applicable to various situations where force has been used against ships. The guidelines are based on the relevant case law and systemized into three scenarios: first, a commercial ship vs. government ship/warship (State vessel) scenario; second, a State vessel vs. commercial ship scenario; third, a State vs. State scenario. The analysis focuses on the use of force against ships, but the rules apply mutatis mutandis also in relation to aircraft and installations and structures at sea.