Somalia Piracy Today Part III

Somalia Piracy Today Part III

Most cases of piracy are characterized by the former form. It is also the least serious – and the Norwegian ship in most cases has been exposed to. It too can pose more than just a threat of physical violence and thus pose a danger to the crew. But the danger is often greater in the other three, more serious forms of piracy, of which there are examples from most of the pirate-exposed waters. If the pirates are only interested in ships and cargo, for example, the crew may be in the way.

In 2007, 20 crew members were registered killed on ships that were subjected to pirate attacks. In 2000, the peak year of modern-day piracy, that number was as many as 72 crew members killed.

In most of the more recent cases of piracy outside Somalia, however, the latter three forms of piracy are merged into a partly new form: control of both ships, cargo and crew . Thereafter, such control is used as a means of pressure for demands for ransom, at the same time as the consideration for the safety of the crew serves as protection against possible attacks from outside to take back ships and cargo.

And all this is done under full media coverage. This only helps to direct the light more strongly towards the safety of the captured crew members and give it increased weight. In anticipation of ransom for crew and ships, nearly 300 crew members were detained by Somali pirates at the turn of the year.

This form of piracy is not entirely unique to recent cases outside Somalia, a country located in Africa according to But there it has been very lucrative for the pirates. Until now, ransom for several million dollars has been paid out . The large payments can tempt others to try the same thing in other pirate-exposed waters. But it is not certain that it will be as easy to get there. This is due to factors that have to do with the causes of piracy in our time.

5: Causes of piracy

Causes of piracy can vary from water to water. But the main motive of those who engage in piracy in general, is probably quite similar in all waters and the same as for organized violent crime on land: prospects for large revenues.

Pirate-prone waters often have some features in common:

  • heavy ship traffic
  • weak or partially corrupt exercise of authority in adjacent lands,
  • widespread and significant poverty among the population.

This affects the prospects for successful and lucrative piracy: Large ship activity can offer tempting prey for piracy, inadequate exercise of authority makes it easier to make the necessary preparations for piracy that must first be done on land, and also to take care of the prey from a successful pirate attack, and widespread poverty makes it easier to find helpers.

In Somalia and in the Niger Delta, another factor is contributing to providing pirates with helpers and goodwill locally. In both places, there is a feeling among many in the local population that outsiders come and deal with values ‚Äč‚Äčthat actually belong to themselves, such as fishing resources outside Somalia and petroleum resources in the Niger Delta. This is hardly an important motive for the pirates, but they can exploit such a feeling in others.

6: Measures against piracy

Combating piracy can take place both at sea where it is carried out and on land where it is being prepared. Ships in pirate-exposed waters can in various ways seek to protect themselves . But many sailors and shipowners refuse to have weapons on board. This can easily lead to pirate attacks becoming more brutal and bloody.

According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea , naval vessels from any country can arrest pirates they encounter in international waters, and judge them according to their own country’s laws. With the consent of the rather powerless Somali government, the UN Security Council has decided that naval vessels from other countries may for some time to do the same in Somali territorial waters. The increased international patrol in the Gulf of Aden, as pointed out, seems to have worked, in the same way as increased patrols of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia previously seem to have done in the Straits of Malacca.

But where piracy can be fought most effectively is on land where it is prepared – and partly also completed by the landing of hijacked ships. For example, the declining piracy activity in Southeast Asian waters may be due to a more effective exercise of authority on land in Indonesia and greater willingness on the political side there to combat piracy.

Somalia Piracy 3