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A Desired Marriage: The Crucial Interface for Effective Law Enforcement at Sea

The true implementation of the SDGs in ocean environment
must come with full regard of legal standards and justice principles.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 global objectives, established by the United Nations in 2015, that seek to address the pressing challenges facing our world, from poverty to climate change. Each goal has its own set of targets and indicators, but they are all interrelated. Among them, SDG14 and SDG16 particularly stand out for their relevance to law enforcement. SDG14 focuses on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources, while SDG16 promotes peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels. An effective approach to law enforcement necessitates the integration of these two goals, revealing a comprehensive strategy that addresses the interconnected nature of peace, justice, and the health of our oceans.

1. The Direct Link Between Marine Resources and Peaceful Societies:

Illegal fishing, marine trafficking, and other maritime crimes are significant threats to the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans. These unlawful activities not only undermine the health of marine ecosystems, but also pose a threat to security by contributing to the instability of coastal communities and nations. In remote and confined marine areas, recognition of legal norms is compromised and compliance with the law does not enjoy the desired relevance at sea as it does on land. By ensuring peace and strong institutional frameworks (as highlighted in SDG16), we can address the root causes of these illegal activities and thus promote the goals of SDG14.

2. Access to Justice and Marine Conservation:

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a primary example of the need to integrate justice (a pillar of SDG16) with marine conservation. IUU fishing practices harm the marine environment, deplete fish stocks, and threaten the livelihoods of millions who depend on the ocean’s resources. Strengthening judicial systems, ensuring fair legal frameworks, and holding violators accountable is essential to combat these challenges. Only when there is justice can we ensure that marine resources are used sustainably and responsibly.

3. Accountability in Marine Management:

Effective law enforcement on the high seas requires the presence of strong and accountable institutions. SDG16’s focus on establishing responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels is crucial to ensure that marine regulations are not only implemented but also adhered to. Strengthened accountability will deter malpractices and ensure a harmonious balance between human needs and marine conservation.

4. Enhancing Cooperation for Comprehensive Solutions:

Maritime challenges often transcend national borders. For effective enforcement, international collaboration is paramount. SDG16 promotes building partnerships at the regional, national, and international levels. By integrating this cooperative spirit with the objectives of SDG14, nations can share best practices, intelligence, and resources, enhancing the effectiveness of law enforcement activities in the marine domain and encouraging the private sector to implement the same legal standards at sea as on land.

The Conclusion

The integration of SDG16 with SDG14 is not just an option but a necessity for creating a holistic approach to marine conservation. Law enforcement on the high seas and coastal areas requires a synergy of peace, justice, and strong institutions. By recognizing the intersectionality of these goals, we pave the way for a world where our oceans thrive and societies benefit from their bounty in a just, peaceful, and sustainable manner.

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