A horn of troubles



Publication Details

Schofield, C. H. & Warner, R. M. (2013). A horn of troubles: understanding and addressing the Somali “piracy” phenomenon. In J. Garofano & A. J. Dew (Eds.), Deep Currents and Rising Tides: The Indian Ocean and International Security (pp. 49-80). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9781589019676


Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented surge in piratical attacks off the Horn of Africa. While attacks against shipping in the northwestern Indian Ocean are by no means a new phenomenon, the scale and scope of recent attacks, predominantly attributed to Somali "pirates," has made these waters comfortably the most dangerous in the world and has imperiled key sea-lanes vital to global maritime commerce.1 Although these developments have spurred the international community to respond through a range of measures, including most saliently the deployment of warships to the region from a diverse array of navies in order to conduct counterpiracy patrols, piratical attacks have persisted and now pose a major threat to shipping across a broad swath of the Indian Ocean.

In this chapter we provide a critical assessment of recent developments off the Horn of Africa. We outline the rise in maritime insecurity off the Horn of Africa and assess a number of the key drivers associated with the rise of Somali piracy. We then examine international responses to the problem, including relevant UN Security Council resolutions and military responses as well as preventative measures on the part of the shipping industry. In the latter part of the chapter we provide an analysis of the international legal framework for dealing with piracy and criminal justice cooperation issues arising from Somali piracy as well as some of the emerging legal developments designed to address deficiencies in bringing the pirates to justice and tackling the problem of maritime insecurity off the Horn of Africa. Finally, we offer concluding thoughts and suggest that without addressing fundamental root causes on land in Somalia, piracy off the Horn of Africa is likely to prove an enduring concern.

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