Maritime crime poses a serious threat to the safety of seafarers, international trade and regional stability. As over 90%* of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling.

Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances. These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Due to the unique nature of the high seas - falling outside the jurisdiction of any single State, but within the collective responsibility of all - a coordinated and comprehensive approach must be taken to tackle crimes both occurring at sea and being carried out through use of the maritime domain. This includes interrupting criminal activities at sea, strengthening domestic maritime law-enforcement capacity, and addressing the root causes of maritime crime on land.


The sub-programm provides legal reform support, MLE capacity building, and regional cooperation and ... [Read more]
The sub-programme assists Somalia to address maritime crime. It delivers support to the maritime law ... [Read more]



The GMCP IO team works with coastal states of the Indian Ocean to enhance and coordinate their efforts ... [Read more]
The Detention and Transfer Programme within the Global Maritime Crime Programme provides specialist ... [Read more]

The Evolution of the Global Maritime Crime Programme

The UNODC Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP) assists states to strengthen their capacity to combat maritime crime. The GMCP grew out of the UNODC "Counter Piracy Programme" (CPP), which was established in 2009 response to Security Council resolutions calling for a concerted international response to address piracy off the Horn of Africa. The CPP played a central role in the establishment of a regional 'piracy prosecution model'. This involved delivering comprehensive criminal justice support to States in the Indian Ocean region, which received suspected pirates for prosecution. This work continues under the GMCP Indian & Pacific Oceans Programme which delivers support to Indian Ocean littoral states to tackle wider maritime crime.

As part of the criminal justice response to piracy, the GMCP established its Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme, now the Detention and Transfer Programme, which has facilitated the transfer of consenting sentenced detainees from prosecuting States back to their home country. This has enabled detainees to serve their sentences closer to their families and in their own cultural environments. As part of this programme UNODC GMCP built prison facilities in Somalia in order to ensure that detainees were held in humane and secure conditions which continue to be monitored as part of the Programme. Training and mentoring is, furthermore, provided to custodial staff and education, vocational training and rehabilitation programmes are offered to detainees. The Detention and Transfer Programme also delivers a substantive programme to prevent violent extremism in prisons in Somalia and Kenya.

Recognizing that a truly sustainable solution to combating piracy requires addressing its root causes, the GMCP launched a programme to support Somali Maritime Law Enforcement (MLE) authorities in 2014. The GMCP - Horn of Africa Programme continues to deliver technical, material, and infrastructural support to MLE units along the Somali coast with the aim of building domestic capacity for management of maritime zones.

Also in 2014, GMCP established a new programme to address the then emerging threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The GMCP Atlantic Ocean Programme is active in 11 countries in West Africa with focus on legislative reform to create stronger foundations for prosecution of maritime crime and support to MLE authorities.

The GMCP prides itself on its ability to deliver results effectively, efficiently and sustainably. An overarching respect for human rights and the rule of law informs all of its activities. As such, the GMCP will continue to search for novel approaches to combating a wide range of maritime crimes.