In the Journal — January 15, 2013 at 8:31 am

Preventing Terrorist Attacks on Offshore Platforms: Do States Have Sufficient Legal Tools?

By Assaf Harel* –

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4 Harv. Nat’l Sec. J. 131 (2012)

This Article examines what authority coastal states have under international law to protect their offshore platforms from the dire consequences of such attacks. It argues that while states have sufficient legal authority to take measures for protecting offshore platforms located in their territorial sea, they lack such authority outside that area. In particular, this Article addresses the authority given to states in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) to restrict navigation within 500-meter-wide safety zones around offshore platforms located in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the continental shelf. In this regard, this Article argues that not only are such safety zones insufficient for protecting platforms from deliberate attacks, but they also seem to be insufficient for protecting those platforms from safety hazards.

* Major, Israel Defense Forces. Presently serving as a legal advisor in the Military Advocate General’s Corps. L.L.M., 2012, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia; M.B.A., 2011, Tel-Aviv University; L.L.B., 2006, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

One Comment

  1. Very interesting article. There is a second concern that applies to the same situation and that would be the ability or desire of the coastal state authority to get involved in protecting offshore facilities (privately owned) such as mobile offshore drilling units (MODUs) that are on location for temporary or short-term tasking in the exclusive econonomic zone or in coastal international waters. Certainly the 500 meter buffer zone is a very good idea but most often difficult if not impossible to enforce without the assistance of a coastal state authority.
    Clearly this vulnerability will be of high interest in the future

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