The competition between Somali fishermen (Anderson, 2010, pp.

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Last updated: June 9, 2019

Thefirst major modern international initiative which sought to bring furtherstability to the seas was the implementation of the United National Conventionon the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1994. Amongst a host of legal precedence setby this resolution, this resolution also considered acts of piracy bydetermining that, legally, “piracy is a universal crime, and subjects piratesto arrest and prosecution by any nation.” (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 6).However, there is an interesting caveat to this stability-seeking resolutionpresented by Anderson.

UNCLOS, passed roughly three years following thecollapse of the Somali government in 1991, restricted Somali fisherman to aclearly, and legally, defined area influencing increased competition betweenSomali fishermen (Anderson, 2010, pp. 326-327). Anderson points to a majordeficiency in the language, and thus legal issues, of UNCLOS. The language employedin UNCLOS Article 220 supposes that there are operational and legitimategovernment institutions with the capability of combating, enforcing, andprosecuting pirates under international law which are mechanisms Somalia doesnot possess (Anderson, 2010, pp. 328). Due to the nonexistence of aninternational enforcing agency (i.e. a world police), Anderson argues that the”international community is failing to self-regulate by ignoring evidencesuggesting that its members are taking advantage of a collapsed state that hasno ability to enforce international law” which thus “forces the localcommunities to take matters into their own hands” (Anderson, 2010, pp.

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328).  Around2008 the international community began a more aggressive approach to combatpiracy, which grew ever more expansive and proactive in the years following.According to The World Bank, in 2008 the UN Security Council passed 13Resolutions to support anti-piracy operations aimed at the Horn of Africa (TheWorld Bank, 2013, pp. xi). One of the most significant resolutions was the 2008United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 (from here on UNRES 1851).  UNRES1851 was a significant resolution aiming to counter piracy in and aroundSomalia.

The resolution itself expanded upon previous resolutions concerningpiracy in Somalia (Resolutions 1814, 1816, 1838, 1844, and 1846) as well asresponding to TFG requests for international support in combating piracy(United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851, 2009, pp. 140). UNRES 1851,according to Alessi and Hanson, “authorized states with navies deployed in theGulf of Aden to, with the permission of Somalia’s Transitional FederalGovernment, take action against pirates and armed robbers within Somalia”(Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 5).

The language of the UNRES 1851 is veryspecific in that a State must receive explicit permission from the Somaligovernment (TFG) in order to operate (United Nations Security CouncilResolution 1851, 2009, pp. 141) and which is granted for a period of 12 months(Daxecker and Paris, 2013, pp. 941). UNRES 1851 also authorizes internationalactors, with the permission and capacity to do so and providing operationsremain in accordance with international law, employ naval forces and militaryaircraft in order to combat piracy off the Somali coast (United NationsSecurity Council Resolution 1851, 2009, pp.

141). Additionally, UNRES 1851created the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) in January2009 with mandate to “address military and operational coordination, capacitybuilding, judicial issues, shipping self-awareness and public information relatedto piracy” (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 5) in addition to “facilitatecoordination of the 60 countries and 20 international organizations working toprevent piracy (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xii). Another international, althoughAfrican led, initiative was the 2009 Djibouti Code of Conduct which was taskedwith the implementation of initiatives demanded by UNRES 1851 (Alessi and Hanson,2012, pp.

5) and (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xii). Further internationalprograms have included, “the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions IntelligenceCo-ordination Center, and the Indian Ocean Commission Anti-Piracy partnershipprogram” (The World Bank, 2013, pp.

xii).  Internationalnaval operations have also been affected by UNRES 1851. Following thisresolution, North American Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU),United States of America (U.S.), missions have been deployed to the Gulf ofAden. The EU mission to Somalia is conducted under the European Union NavalForce Somalia via Operation Atalanta, NATO via Operation Ocean Shield, andCombined Task Force 151 (CTF151) (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xi) and (Nelson andFitch, 2012, pp. 1).

According to the NATO website, in 2008 NATO reacted to UN overturesfor assistance in combating pirates with Operation Allied Provider (2008), AlliedProtector (2009), Operation Ocean Shield (2009-2016) and NATO support for theU.S.-led CTF151 (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2016). Other individualState initiatives have included states such as India, China, Russia, Australia(Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 6), and as we will see later, Japan.

The WorldBank reports that over 40 States are involved in some capacity throughoperations listed above in order to counter piracy (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xi).In 2011, Nelson and Fitch report approximately 30 States as having maritime missionsconducted in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). Nevertheless,I surmise that 2011, witnessing the peak of pirate attacks, was especiallydifficult for maritime forces. Nelson and Fitch assert that, because thepirates operated much further than traditionally was the case, “the high-riskarea includes more than 1.1 million square nautical miles of ocean.

Given thatthis vast area is patrolled by approximately 25 naval vessels, each vessel isfaced with the daunting task of patrolling, on average, 44,000 square nauticalmiles” (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). From this we can envision the dauntingtask faced by international navies.  Onemay ask, since pirate operations, “begin and end on land” (Daxecker and Prins,2013, pp. 943), what has Somalia, or the international community done in termsof ground-based operations? Indeed, one reason for the success of the RomanGeneral Pompey in his operations against the Mediterranean pirates was hisutilization of both maritime and terrestrial (Army) forces (Caleb Klinger, 2008).Nelson and Fitch propose that the Western nations have been reluctant toinvolve ground forces due to their experiences in Somalia in 1993.

Moreover,they state that Somali citizens themselves are rather averse to foreignmilitary boots on the ground (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2). The EuropeanUnion’s Operation Atalanta was tasked with onshore operations however limitedthese missions to helicopter operations and have avoided deploying ground forces.Furthermore, Nelson and Fitch averred that although African Union Mission inSomalia (AMISOM) could technically combat pirates, AMISOM has primarily focusedon Al-Shabab (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2).

Internally, both Puntland andSomaliland created domestic forces tasked with combating the pirates; however,despite some success and desire to rid themselves of the pirates, they lack theresources to do so (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2). Undeniably, in order tofight the pirates there must be resources, something which Somalia clearlylacks. However, in the case of Somalia there is a catch to sending kineticweapons or providing training in order to combat piracy – “the United NationsArms Embargo on Somalia, Resolution 733 (1992) and 1844 (2008), prohibits notonly the delivery of weapons to Somalia, but the provision of technicalassistance or training of a military nature without UN approval” (Nelson andFitch, 2012, pp. 3). Therefore, while the UN wants to combat piracy and supportthe TFG in this regard, these two Resolutions (733 and 1844) are an unintendedhindrance to this goal. Internationalaction has, as we have seen, included a number of individual States andcollective organizations.

Interestingly, all of the literature reviewed in theabove two sections did not mention Japanese actions once or Japaneseparticipation in international efforts. This is surprising as Japan has takenupon a greater role in many counter-piracy operations. Because Japanese tradevolume is so maritime dependent, the activities of Somali pirates in thesewaters required Japan’s intervention to ensure the vitality and safety of theseshipping lanes and preserve the Japanese economy.

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