Legal Challenges and Responses
Edited by Douglas Guilfoyle
Chapter 3: Piracy off Somalia and counter-piracy efforts
Somali piracy is a highly adaptive business activity that can only be understood in context. The present chapter aims to provide an analysis of the phenomenon and in particular its impact on international law-making and organization. The relevant developments have moved fast enough that there is already a significant history of international cooperation in response to Somali piracy. The contention of this chapter is that the most important impact of Somali pirates as agents of change has not been on the substantive law of piracy but through generating new models of cooperation and soft law. This has been evident in a range of shifts: the move from a military approach to law enforcement operations; from unilateral enforcement to international authorization and then to trans- national coordination; a shift from reliance on formal organizations to informal coordinating bodies; and from maritime operations in the Gulf of Aden to various land-based operations, most notably including law and prison reform. The use of soft law in particular is most evident in the shipping industry’s response to piracy. The present chapter thus proceeds by first offering an extended account of the history of Somali piracy and its context. This is important for two reasons: first, one must appreciate that Somali piracy is not a static phenomenon; and second, understanding how Somali piracy is shaped by its context cautions us against concluding that Somali-style piracy may ‘spread’ to other regions. The chapter then turns to the rise of inter- national counter-piracy operations and counter-piracy cooperation.
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