Intelligence collection in naval armed conflicts

Vicki McConachie, Stacey Henderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on the law relating to neutral ships1 engaged in intelligence collection2 activities during naval armed conflict. It notes that the practice of states has been to conduct military activities routinely, including surveillance and reconnaissance operations and other intelligence gathering activities, in the Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ) of other states, without giving notice to the coastal state or seeking coastal stateconsent.3 Further, it considers whether state practice has been affected by the adoption of the Convention on the Law of the Sea (LoSC):1 It concludes that the LoSC has not changed or removed the right of states to conduct intelligence collection operations seaward of the territorial sea. It should be noted at the outset that state practice is difficult to ascertain in relation to intelligence collection by neutral ships, noting the inherent requirement for collection activities to be conducted in secret. This means that the international law in relation to intelligence collection forms part of the secret life of international law,5 rather than the overt practice of states.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Law of Naval Warfare
EditorsDale Stephens, Matthew Stubbs
Place of PublicationChatswood, N.S.W
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780409350821
ISBN (Print)9780409350814
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Law
  • military
  • Naval
  • Law of the Sea
  • LoSC
  • neutral ships


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