By Sabrina Matteucci
Legal principles guiding response in port protection. Arsenault, N.D. NURC-SP-2008-001. January 2008.
This report summarizes the legal principles that govern the use of force against underwater intruders in port protection. The scenario assumed is a ship, operating as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), docked or at anchor in the inner harbour of a commercial port of an obliging country to refuel, restock, or make repairs. This report provides an introductory top-down awareness of legal principles that bound response when providing protection to ships in ports, which necessarily shapes the technology that supports response action. The cornerstone principle of the UN Charter is that force is prohibited except as self-defense under the principles of necessity and proportionality. The prohibition is reiterated in domestic law which governs ship and crew. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea defines the legal responsibilities and limitations imposed on visiting ships in foreign ports regarding innocent passage, sovereignty of coastal state versus flag state, and the general duties imposed upon warships. A review of the Law of Armed Conflict is included since the technologies developed as a response to an attack must adhere to its guidelines. The report does not serve as Rules of Engagement or as a guide to personnel during operations. Neither does it consider particular technologies or responses.