Pakistan: ICRC conducts first-ever training for Pakistan Maritime Security Agency

Pakistan: ICRC conducts first-ever training for Pakistan Maritime Security Agency

With escalating risks of armed conflicts and clashes at sea, which are vital trade routes for many countries in the Asia-Pacific, the need for effective law enforcement at sea has become paramount.
Article 11 March 2024 Pakistan

Recognizing this, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized a comprehensive five-day training entitled "Law of Armed Conflict at Sea" for 23 officers of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) from February 12–16, 2023.

The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is a branch of the Pakistan Navy whose mission is to provide protection to the country's maritime interests and enforce domestic and international laws in the maritime zones.

Officers tasked with safeguarding Pakistan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) resources, protecting fishermen, conducting search and rescue operations (SAR), combating marine pollution, smuggling and human trafficking were the focus of the training, with an objective to equip them with essential knowledge and skills in maritime law enforcement. Additionally, considering the dual role of PMSA officers, transitioning between maritime law enforcement during peacetime and combat roles during armed conflict, the training also included elements of international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the law of armed conflict.

PMSA Training Session

The workshop comprised sessions aimed at fostering respect for humanitarian law and enhancing the protection of civilians during conflicts. Participants engaged in discussions on integrating humanitarian norms into their training, planning and operational decision-making processes. For the first time, discussions on aligning domestic laws with international treaties and obligations were introduced, along with insights into IHL and international human rights law (IHRL). Case studies and exercises on maritime law enforcement facilitated practical learning experiences.

On the side-lines of the training, the ICRC leadership in Pakistan and senior representatives of the PMSA discussed on the protection of fishermen at sea as well as the significance of training and partnership between ICRC and PMSA.

This dialogue with PMSA underscores the importance of enhancing maritime law enforcement capabilities to address multifaceted challenges such as piracy, smuggling and the protection of civilians at sea. By equipping PMSA officers with comprehensive knowledge and skills, this training contributes to promoting security, stability and respect for humanitarian principles in maritime operations. Such collaborative efforts can help in strengthening the safety and well-being of seafarers and safeguarding the marine environment.