Maritime Security and the Role of Coast Guards: The Case of Finland and the Åland Islands’ Demilitarisation

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Abstract

The measures and policies states adopt and apply related to law enforcement at sea in peacetime, such as setting up and legislating about Coast Guards and their role, increasingly take maritime security into account. A grey area between military and civilian rules, actors, and activities, can be discerned in relation to maritime security. The article explores the issue of security concerns as a basis for the on-going widening of powers of the Finnish Border Guard, which includes the Coast Guard – in particular how such a widening of the powers relates to the Åland Islands’ demilitarised status. The main question here is whether there is a conflict between possible military aspects of the Coast Guard vis-à-vis the demilitarised status of the Åland Islands. The article identifies aspects of a military nature regarding how the Finnish Coast Guard functions; these are not assessed as being decisive: the Border Guard is not part of the armed forces in peacetime. The article highlights the need for a comprehensive exploration and analysis – including both Finnish authorities and Ålandic authorities – of the Åland Islands’ status in relation to possible future assistance by the Defence Forces on the Åland Islands.

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