Piracy in the Horn of Africa Waters: Definitions, History, and Modern Causes
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Throughout history, ocean piracy was common in different parts of the world, but it was rare in the Horn of Africa waters. Although international law clearly defines piracy, the term is often carelessly used interchangeably with different crimes (armed robbery, atrocities against the victims of shipwrecks, maritime terrorism, insurgent attacks, on sea intercommunal conflicts, and at times illegal fishing). In the first section, this article critically examines the link between the multiple definitions of the concept of piracy and how these can explain the various incidents that occurred historically on the coast of Somalia. In the second part, we explain different types of maritime attacks and criminalities that took place in the Horn of Africa waters prior to the upsurge of piracy in late the 1990s. We argue that all attacks and criminal incidents at sea cannot be classified as piracy. We explain why incidents of piracy were rare before the Somali state was established. Finally, utilizing Collier and Hoeffler’s greed and grievance theory, we seek to explain the factors that led to the emergence and spread of piracy. We contend that crime of opportunity explains in large part the motives of the pirates and their ringleaders while statelessness, poverty, illegal fishing, and toxic-waste dumping explain the initial emergence of piracy and tolerance for it among the coastal communities.
- International Affairs [21 items ]