Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea

Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea

Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea

Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea

Synopsis

In the past decade, the incidence of maritime piracy has exploded. The first three months of 2011 were the worst ever, with 18 ships hijacked, 344 crew taken hostage, and 7 crew members murdered. The four Americans on board the sailing vessel Quest were shot at point-blank range. The economic costs are also staggering, reaching $7 to $12 billion per year, as insurance costs skyrocket, ransoms double and then quadruple, and ships are forced to hire armed security for protection. Pirates operating off the Horn of Africa disrupt shipping traffic through the strategic Suez Canal, siphoning transit fees from an unstable Egypt, while the seizure of supertankers in the Indian Ocean underscores the vulnerability of the world's oil supply.

Governments, private industry, and international organizations have mobilized to address the threat. This is the first volume to examine their work in developing naval strategy, international law and diplomacy, and industry guidelines to suppress contemporary maritime piracy.

Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea comprises three sections, the first of which contains chapters on historical and contemporary piracy, international law and diplomacy, and coalition strategies for combating future piracy. The second and third parts provide collections of historic profiles and relevant documents.

Excerpt

At any given time, more than a dozen ships and their crews are under the control of pirates, being held for ransom. Most of the victims will be released, but some will suffer torture and all will be emotionally scarred by the experience. The devastating impact of piracy on mariners and their families has, unfortunately, been a hallmark of this timeless and quite resilient crime. For more than 2,000 years, piracy has existed wherever there is maritime commerce and a lack of security, ranging from mere nuisance to destabilizing threats.

With two decades of maritime security experience, Commander Kraska is uniquely qualified to examine piracy. I had the pleasure of working with him in the Pentagon from 2004 through 2008, when U.S. government piracy policy was being developed, along with maritime security initiatives (in multinational venues) that sought to increase legal authorities and partnering capabilities. As the oceans policy advisor for the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff, Commander Kraska had a leading role in efforts that improved the ability of the U.S. armed forces to more effectively respond to illicit maritime activity.

Piracy directly affects only a small percentage of international shipping, but indirectly the crime impacts thousands of vessels through increased insurance premiums and changed trade routes. Satisfying the demands of pirates has historically resulted in payment of billions of dollars in tribute and ransom, and this money provides support to illicit organized crime syndicates. Ransoms have been paid, in part, because doing so has been expeditious and appears to be cost beneficial. This shortsighted approach, however, has enabled piracy to continue, and at times thrive, for generations.

The methods of pirates and the responses from states date to the Greek and Roman Empires, as well as to the early United States, and they have relevance today. For three centuries, the Barbary corsairs pillaged the North . . .

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