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Burcad Badeed: Somalia’s “Sea Bandits”. Power Vacuum or Alternative?. Piracy - a Definition.

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piracy a definition
Piracy - a Definition

“any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft and directed on the high seas against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft..”

-- UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

varieties of piracy
Varieties of Piracy
  • State-affiliated: co-optation (1600s China), rent-seeking (Barbary States), and privateering (Francis Drake)
  • Absence of political authority but also an alternative form of power
history of somalia
History of Somalia
  • Siad Barre dictatorship
  • rebellions in Puntland and Somaliland
  • Civil War and intervention (1992-1995)
  • Ethiopian invasion (2006-2008)
  • Civil War continues; failed state
  • Vacuum of formal state filled by others
  • “coast guards” with fishing licenses
  • 2003-2004: hijacking of large vessels
  • Today, only 6.5% against fishing vessels
  • Foreign fishing vessels protected by fees payment to pirate groups
networks of authority
Networks of Authority
  • Small-time fisherman model no longer viable
  • Consolidation into larger networks to mobilize skills and resources
  • Piracy is developed, predictable, business
  • Those who profit become new sources of political and economic power
afweyne network
Afweyne Network
  • South Central Somalia
  • Distributions of payments through local
  • patron-client relations of lineage groups/clans
  • Generate conflict with old elders/elites
puntland official collusion
Puntland - Official Collusion
  • Maxamed Faroole, President
  • Ilkajiir, Interior Minister
  • Government officials = intelligence source
structural causes
Structural Causes
  • Extreme poverty coupled with high unemployment
  • Illegal foreign fishing ($300 million a year) depleting tuna stocks
  • Toxic dumping off Somali Coast
rational choice
Rational Choice
  • Piracy is a rational response to a series of opportunities in the local setting
  • The opportunities are absent political authority, availability of inputs, good location
  • The risk-reward structure is in the pirate networks’ favor
business model
Business Model
  • Profit margins are substantial: revenue of $50-$130 million annually in ransom
  • Set dividends for all participants
  • Payoffs to local political leaders factored into costs
political authority
Political Authority
  • Weak and compliant state (TFG)
  • Collaboration from local authorities
  • Social acquiescence

LOCAL: Piracy based economy; undermining authority

REGIONAL: Increased weapon smuggling; increase in fishermen income (Kenya)

GLOBAL: Threat to international commerce; Increased costs

international response
International Response
  • Lack of authority; coordination
  • Naval response ignores root causes
  • Merchant shipping adopt low-cost solutions
  • Slow response to shift in pirate strategy
legal authority
Legal Authority
  • Legal limitations
  • Less than 50% of captured pirates prosecuted
  • “We discharged out international obligation. Others shied away form doing so and we cannot bear the burden of the international responsibility.” - Kenya 2010
  • Unintended consequences: private security
  • Somali piracy results from authority vacuum, but also creates new power structures
  • International neglect - nation-building unrealistic
  • Raising risks/costs for pirate backers
  • Time for a new UN Resolution?
  • Long-term: build local capacity