All countries, regardless of their location, depend on the safety of the oceans and waters. As confirmed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
, freedom of navigation is considered a vital principle of international law. Whether coastal or landlocked, states can be affected by the impact of threats posed at sea or international waters such as piracy and armed robbery, terrorism, drug trafficking and trafficking in nuclear materials and firearms, human trafficking and migrant smuggling, waste trafficking and illegal activities in the fisheries sector.
As commercial air travel decreased and land border controls increased in 2020 due to COVID-19, illicit drug trafficking on maritime and waterway routes accelerated in Europe, Latin America, North Africa, and South-East Asia. According to UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report
, record shipments of cocaine were seized in European ports during the pandemic. Preliminary data from 12 countries indicate that quantities seized in seaports were up 18 per cent last year.