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Piracy - Criminality on the High Seas

NCJ Number
.SIAK - International Edition Volume: 2 Dated: 2012 Pages: 30-40
Nikolaus Rottenberger
Date Published
11 pages
After reviewing the latest developments in piracy on the high seas throughout the world, this article discusses its causes, the methods and tactics used by pirate syndicates, and the nature and effectiveness of international responses.
As defined in Article 101 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, "piracy" is a criminal act, but not a terrorist act, although terrorist organizations may use piracy for their ends, such as blackmail and raising funds for their operations. This article analyzes the regions where piracy is the most prevalent, as well as the regional and international responses in each of the regions. The regions are the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa. The article advises that the causes of the surge in piracy should be viewed in both a global and regional context. Globally, the increase in piracy is related to changes due to the end of the Cold War, when the military presence of the superpowers and their allies in international waters declined. As the global economy became increasingly interconnected and trade barriers were lowered, the size of merchant fleets increased; yet coastal inhabitants of impoverished regions did not benefit from their commercial success. In the regional context, the most prominent cause of piracy is the decline or elimination of state systems of law and order. The reduction or termination of effective coastguard services in high-risk regions has also been conducive to the spread of piracy. Pirates either hunt for suitable prey near the coast using small boats or remain for up to 2 weeks on the open sea with a mother ship that carries two or three small boats. Regarding the international response to piracy, the development of effective state security services, especially coastguards, is the most effective long-term response to piracy. 1 table, 1 figure, 41 notes and 41 references