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Maritime Security: Challenges and Opportunities for EU-GCC Cooperation


The GCC is fully aware of the potential threats to maritime security harbouring off the coasts of its members. In fact, recent developments in maritime security concern the Gulf region in a specific manner, most notably due to piracy and drug trafficking. Alongside these non-state actor threats, there are risks associated with state issues, in particular regarding the Strait of Hormuz and the UAE-Iran controversy over Abu Musa and other islands. Legal issues are the necessary point of departure for a sound assessment of maritime security. For this reason, the paper focuses on legal problems involved in sea use and management. After having assessed the regulatory framework of maritime security, it concentrates on issues of particular relevance for the Gulf, taking into account piracy, including the establishment of ad hoc tribunals for the punishment of pirates/terrorists, the maritime relevance of the proposed WMD Free Zone in the Middle East for the GCC, the settlement of current maritime controversies and other soft security threats such as drug trafficking and trafficking in persons. Given the narrow limits of the Gulf and the fragile ecosystem, marine pollution is another source of concern for the Gulf states. At the end, some concrete lines of policy action for GCC-EU cooperation are suggested, taking the GCC-EU Joint Action programme as the starting-point.

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