Piracy in International Waters...Taking a Stand!

Published: Fri 26 Jul 2019 11:15 AM
In a 24 July Press release, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has condemned the seizure of 2 oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, describing the seizure as “ an inexcusable violation of international law, including the freedom of navigation.” Furthermore, Mr Peters has called on Iran, whose regime argues that it is just copying a recent British action off Gibraltar, to release the two vessels, “Iran’s recent actions risk escalating a dangerous situation in the Gulf region. We call on Iran to release the detained vessels and to engage with the international community in steps that help reduce tensions and the prospect of conflict.”
In other words, the NZ Government has declared the seizure of the two ships by the Iranians, to be a violation of international law, and implied that there is exists an 'international community' which agrees.
What does 'international law' really mean? Does it apply to the actions of all countries, or are there 'exceptions'?
That is, if there are other instances when vessels are seized in international waters, does the 'international law' still apply and does NZ condemn the actions and demand that the ships be released?
In 2016, the Womens Boat to Gaza, the Zaytouna-Oliva, attempted to sail into Gaza as a show of solidarity with the men, women and children held in isolation from the rest of the world, even from the rest of historic Palestine where they have family ties. The crew and passenges were all women, including a NZ MP.
The Zaytouna-Oliva was seized, pirated ,in international waters by the Israeli miliary and is still never been returned to its owner.
Mr Peters should be consistent and condemn Israel for this “inexcusable violation of international law.”
Just last year, the Freedom Flotilla 2018 ship, Awda, was seized in international waters. Another act of piracy! The crew and passengers were civilians, humanitarian activists, including a New Zealand union leader, trying to break the extremely harsh blockade of Gaza. The boat was not only seized. The passengers and crew were very roughly handled.
The ship was carrying medical supplies , very badly needed medical supplies, for Gazan hospitals which are at a breaking point. The Awda has not been released. The medical supplies have not been released.
What kind of a regime withholds stolen, desperately needed, medical supplies? How inhuman can a regime be without being condemned by the 'international community' including New Zealand?
Could we please have some comments from political leaders of all parties and also from international lawyers.

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