Journal Title

Boston University International Law Journal





First Page


Document Type


Publication Information

Spring 2020


Collective efforts among governments and regional organizations is a vital part of the fight against piracy that represents a security threat to all nation states with respect to freedom to navigate the high seas. This paper provides a concise overview of piracy, contemporary maritime drug laws, and cases among the circuit courts to illustrate the procedural concerns that affect fundamental constitutional principles of jurisdiction. A possible solution to existing substantive and procedural due process issues is establishment of a regional judicial institution with broad powers to preside over criminal prosecutions that include maritime crimes. The suggestion may be a viable means to resolve some concerns with respect to jurisdictional principles, regional stability, and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response within the Western Hemisphere. Establishing a tribunal to.preside over enforcement practices alleviates dependency on the existing legal framework that may not fully resolve jurisdictional issues associated with maritime drug trafficking. In addition, a regional tribunal minimizes the need for the United States to function as the only viable, sovereign nation-state in the Americas to ensure that pirates engaged in illicit trades are not roaming the high seas with impunity.

Recommended Citation

Marshall B. Lloyd & Robert L. Summers, Pirates on the High Seas: An Institutional Response to Expanding U.S. Jurisdiction in Troubled Waters, 38 B.U. Int'l L. J. 75 (2020).