In a recent article published in Africa Insight, Lisa Otto puts forward the findings from her analysis of a five-year dataset for maritime crime that she collected and collated for the period 2009 to 2013. Analysis of this data, which was collected by cross-referencing reports from the International Maritime Bureau and the International Maritime Organisation, supplemented by information from other sources where possible, has allowed her to determine the contours of maritime criminal activities in Nigeria, and the Gulf of Guinea beyond. Read more →
2016 marks the beginning of the transition of the counter-piracy response in the Horn of Africa. Many states have already significantly reduced their involvement in counter-piracy. Recently, the High Risk Area has been revised, which documents that international stakeholders are altering the approach they take to contain piracy. While the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have announced in July 2015 to continue their operation, the mandates of the two other missions, NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield and the EU’s EUNAVFOR Atalanta, are under review. There are clear expectations that the EU will continue the mission in one form or another and maintain the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa, important for situational awareness in the area. These developments need to be seen against the backdrop of the assessment that no large scale piracy attack was successful since 2012. Notwithstanding, the threat of piracy in the region persists. This is clearly highlighted by the 2015 threat assessment of the military missions and further evidenced by recent reports of low scale hijackings and hostage taking attempts.
The revisions of the counter-piracy architecture raise the question of what the future holds for the main coordination body, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). The CGPCS is a major cornerstone of the response. It ensures that the activities of the diverse stakeholders are in sync and gaps are spotted and filled. The CGPCS is a flexible, informal, and multi-lateral mechanism, and over the evolution of the fight against piracy it has been frequently reformed and redesigned. The CGPCS stakeholder community, however, so far lacks a clear strategic vision, and the debate on the future of the group is in full swing. Indeed, the Government of the Seychelles, the 2016 chairman of the group, announced to make the question of how the legacy of the group can be secured one of the top priorities.
In February 2016, the CGPCS held a strategy meeting in Mumbai. At the meeting, the stakeholder community was in agreement that the group should be reformed. Yet, what direction this implies and how the legacy could be secured remains an open question. What are the options for reform? Three proposals were made by the stakeholder community: Firstly, a functional extension that implies to widen the mandate to include other maritime security issues while maintaining the current regional focus on the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean. Secondly, a regional extension in that the group starts to work on other piracy hot spots; and thirdly, a further streamlining of the work of the group with the perspective of transferring the plenary to another institution in the long run. Each of these options requires further scrutiny. The following provides a short analysis of each. Read more →
The rise of piracy has informed major transformations in Italian maritime security policies. In a recent article in Ocean Development & International Law, Stefano Ruzza and I analyse Italy’s approach to deploy armed vessel protection teams on board of ships. Here I draw attention to a recent shift in Italy’s maritime security policy that allows private security contractors to take on a greater role in protecting Italian flagged ships against pirate attacks.
Italian vessels repeatedly suffered from pirate attacks. Between 2009 and 2013, 35 ships were attacked. Five attacks, four of which occurred in 2011, resulted in the hijacking of the vessel. In some cases, such as the rescue of the Montecristo in October 2011, the crew was freed by a British Navy operation, while in others large ransoms were paid. The Savina Caylin, for example, was released in February 2011 after the payment of no less than 10 million USD. Besides threatening the Italian shipping industry, piracy has been conceptualized as a threat to the national interest at large, as the attacks could potentially result in a shift of maritime routes away from Suez and the Mediterranean, and therefore lead to a marginalization of Italian ports. Due to these reasons, Italy has played a prominent role in the major international initiatives launched to counter maitime piracy. In 2005, Italy was the first country to deploy a frigate off the Somali shores in an antipiracy mission called Mare Sicuro [Safe Sea]. Since then, Italy has participated in various other naval operations such as NATO’s Ocean Shield, EUNAVFOR Atalanta, EUCAP Nestor and the Combined Task Force 151.
Elena Sadovaya and Vinh Thai, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
To enhance maritime security in shipping companies, a number of compulsory and voluntary regulations have been introduced at the beginning of the 21st century. However, besides benefits expected from the implementation of these regulations, they have also had negative impacts. Nevertheless, industry participants had no other choice, but to comply with these regulations in order to participate in national and international trades. For some companies, additional cost related to security implementation resulted in bankruptcy while others managed to sustain under the burden of necessary financial investments, paper work, additional manpower and time requirements. Specifically, an effective management of maritime security in those companies helped them to achieve benefits beyond security improvements, such as improved competitive position, better data management and document processing, improved cooperation with partners and government, etc.
Jan Stockbruegger, Brown University, and Christian Bueger, Cardiff University
We have compiled a new Piracy Studies Bibliography, which you can access as PDF here.
The aim of this bibliography is to gather a comprehensive collection of academic works on contemporary (post WWII) maritime piracy, with a focus on academic books, journals and working paper. In addition the bibliography includes some titles on the history of piracy, and some general interest literature on piracy.
The present version includes almost 600 entries. It documents the extent to which piracy has become a serious issue of academic inquiry, and how investigations of piracy contribute to general discourse and debates in International Relations, Area Studies, Maritime Studies, International Law, Criminology, and other disciplines.
We hope that this bibliography helps you a little bit to find your way through the piracy studies literature.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the Horn of Africa became the global piracy hot spot, with headlines detailing multi-million dollar ransoms, rescue operations and violence. The international response to Somali-based piracy was organised into three domains: (i) maintaining order in international waters, (ii) reducing ships’ vulnerability, and (iii) development activities and institution building in Somalia. Since their introduction, pirate activity has dramatically reduced. The aim of our recent British Journal of Criminology paper How Super Controllers Prevent Crimes: Learning from Modern Maritime Piracy was to explore the suppression of Somali-based piracy from a criminological perspective. We adopted Routine Activity Theory to examine how the operating conditions of Somali-based piracy was altered.