News / Africa

Deterring Somali Piracy Through Development

In this U.S. Navy photo, pirates leave the Ukrainian merchant vessel MV Faina for Somalia's shore Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 while under observation by a U.S. Navy ship. The MV Faina, which was carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related military eq
In this U.S. Navy photo, pirates leave the Ukrainian merchant vessel MV Faina for Somalia's shore Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008 while under observation by a U.S. Navy ship. The MV Faina, which was carrying a cargo of Ukrainian T-72 tanks and related military eq
Joe DeCapua

The U.N. Security Council recently adopted a resolution calling for tougher anti-piracy measures off the Somali coast. One expert says deterring piracy requires a land-based solution with grassroots support.

Assistant U.N. Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun recently described international efforts to stop Somali pirates as “unprecedented.” Nevertheless, he said those efforts are “insufficient” and called for greater emphasis on deterrence, security, rule of law and development.

Action, not just words

“Excellent statements. Question is, what’s going to be delivered to make those things happen? And he’s right. I mean in many ways he occupies a bully pulpit, doesn’t he. He’s the sort of person who tries to exhort states to do something. He hasn’t got any assets of his own and he needs to draw states into this problem to try and find a solution,” said Dr. Martin Murphy, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council of the United States Ansari Africa Center.

“I think the international community, the international navies, are holding things at the moment. In fact, I’m slightly surprised that the number of attacks hasn’t increased dramatically now that the current monsoon season is over. And therefore, one suspects they’re doing something right or something’s changing on the land in Somalia. And to be honest I don’t know what that might be,” he said.

What works, what doesn’t

Murphy expects attempted ship hijackings in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean to increase as European countries withdraw their patrol vessels.

“They’ve got so many other claims on their time. Libya has drawn off a lot of assets and European nations are under fiscal pressure now and they’re cutting their fleets. They’re cutting their government budgets, which is obviously going to happen here, as well. It’s going to affect the United States Navy. It’s happening with the European navies earlier and frankly those assets are not being sent back to the Indian Ocean,” he said.

But while international patrols certainly have deterred some attacks, other methods have proven more effective.

“To be honest, I think the most powerful deterrent has not been the navies. It has been the protected [sic] measures that the ships are taking and the rapid increase in the number of armed guards. The latest figure that’s been suggested to me is that maybe up to 35 percent of ships transiting the Indian Ocean Basin are now carrying armed detachments. You know, that is the thing that’s keeping successful hijacks down, although it won’t obviously particularly affect the number of attacks that take place,” he said.

However, Murphy said use of armed guards, although successful, is not popular among sailors or maritime industry officials.

“The sailors don’t want it because they didn’t go to sea to be fired upon, to have to cower in a fire fight. And the ship owners didn’t go to sea to have to carry this additional financial burden,” he said.

Comprehensive approach

A land-based solution, he says, is what’s needed. He proposes a development policy that bypasses government officials and goes directly to community and clan levels. This includes women and business groups and local mosques.

“It’s very important to look at the whole area that piracy is affecting and say those are the stable or semi-stable areas. Those are the areas where we can do development work. Those are the areas where we can get bottom-up projects going. Bottom-up, stress that. It’s not going to be top down through the government where we’ve tried so many times before and they’ve failed or been corrupted or led to disputes. We need to get down into that bottom level,” he said.

In addition, he said, well-known piracy kingpins need to be targeted at their regional bases. Murphy says arresting or even killing pirates at sea won’t solve the problem.

“We’re picking up, frankly, the expendable, and they are expandable, because apparently lots of young men in Somalia are actually dying. They go out at sea and the boat sinks and they don’t get anywhere. We must stop thinking that we can stop piracy by picking up these expendable foot soldiers. There [are] just too many of them. We don’t have the capacity to keep them. It’s the kingpins that are driving this and the economic circumstances that are driving it that we really need to tackle,” he said.

Most nations now view piracy as a criminal act and prefer to address it through the rule of law, not by sinking ships.

Murphy said Somalia is a weak and failed state, and not addressing its security and development issues will only allow problems to fester. He said one example of this is the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. He recommends looking at the problems faced by the entire Horn of Africa.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs