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CIAO Focus, June 2012: Maritme and Port Security in the 21st Century

Globalization, the information age, and rapidly expanding coastal population centers have increased both the importance and the vulnerability of the maritime commons. Rapid demographic growth in coastal regions increasingly strains maritime infrastructure and countries' ability to govern their maritime spaces. As more people migrate to coastal areas, the increased demand for food, energy, and hard goods requires greater dependence on the maritime commons for legitimate commerce and access to offshore resources.

Organizations engaged in illicit commerce seek to create and exploit gaps in maritime governance by attacking law enforcement or bribing government officials. These gaps result in seaborne security threats and the disruption of legitimate commerce and often lead to internal instability, particularly for fragile states threatened by violent conflict. The inability to effectively govern maritime spaces tends to undermine public confidence and can lead to a breakdown in public order. A diminished rule of law stifles economic development and increases vulnerability to environmental damage.

Poorly governed littorals also present problems for the United States and its trading partners. The safety and security of the littorals are prerequisites for global economic trade. More than 90 percent of the world's trade moves on the oceans. Effective maritime governance and a smoothly functioning infrastructure ensure the viability of the global commons, whereas gaps in maritime security can enable the proliferation of security threats, including support for insurgent organizations and terrorist groups, and seaborne transport of weapons of mass destruction.

Poorly governed or ungoverned maritime spaces also invite undue influence from predatory states seeking to exploit a country's offshore fisheries, energy, or natural resources. Illegal fishing off the coast of Africa not only places a hardship on local populations who depend on fish as their main source of protein, but also creates broader instability in the region. For these and other reasons, MSSR is of growing importance.

--U.S. Institute of Peace

From the CIAO Database:

Maritime Security Sector Reform

Dealing with Maritime Security in the Mediterranean Basin: The EU as a Multilateral Actor

Investing in Science and Technology to Meet Africa's Maritime Security Challenges

Is Port Security Spending Making Us Safer?

Container Security Report


Outside Sources: *

Container Security Initiative (Department of Homeland Security)

The Maritime Security Council

U.S. Public Port Facts (AAPA)

* Outside links are not maintained. For broken outside links, CIAO recommends the Way Back Machine.