Prospects for Cooperation
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by Robert Beckman and J. Ashley Roach
Over the past four years, attacks against vessels by Somali pirates have captured the world’s attention. The sheer audacity of the attacks, the number of attacks and the amount of ransom being paid to Somali pirates, have transformed Somali piracy into an unprecedented and extremely serious threat to the safety of seafarers and international shipping. In 2010, there were 219 attacks (actual and attempted) committed by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean and this increased to 237 (actual and attempted) attacks in 2011. Such attacks constitute the majority of attacks worldwide and Somali piracy continues to be a problem that confounds the international community. The ramifications of Somali piracy are wide- ranging. Not only does such piracy cause immediate risk to seafarers, cargo and vessels; it also ‘endangers sea lines of communication, interferes with freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and undermines regional stability’. Indeed, it has been estimated that in 2011, Somali piracy cost the world economy almost US$7 billion dollars, with the bulk of this consisting of the cost of protecting ships traversing the Horn of Africa.