How Should the International Community Respond to Piracy at Sea?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 10, 2009
Merchant vessel Al Marjan Following Release From Pirates Off Somali Coast

Piracy is a growing problem for the international community. UN Security Council resolution 1851 expanded the range of actions the international community could take to stem piracy near Somalia and urged for greater coordination between countries and international organizations on the issue.

Regarding the recent attack involving the Maersk ship, Secretary Clinton said, “These people are nothing more than criminals. ...Piracy may be a centuries-old crime, but we are working to bring an appropriate 21st century response.”

How should the international community respond to piracy at sea?

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
April 10, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Our federal government is negligent in failing to require all merchant ships carry sufficient arms to repel a pirate attack. Several people already posted that advice on this blog. The steps necessary to repel pirate attacks are obvious. It is astounding that this government simply will not do it.

Our ships are unarmed victims, sitting ducks, for any thugs with guns.

Now we have whole fleets of pirates running around stealing ships because we are totally disarmed. Gun control works -- in the criminal's favor.

What the world's merchant marine needs is:
1. Allow armed ship crews trained to repel pirate attacks;
2. Heavily armed decoy ships sent at random into pirate waters for the sole purpose of killing pirate attackers;
3. A coastal blocade across Somali ports to seize weapons aboard Somali vessels.

Just do what Merchant Marine captains suggest -- arm the ships with the kind of weapons that put fear into the minds of Somali pirates.

As private yachts face the same problem, all private yachts should be advised to carry firearms and any gun laws restricting transport and concealment of weapons should never be enforced against private yachts at sea.

If our government can ever get its priorities straight and allow Americans to defend themselves, this pirate problem would quickly end. We should be raiding pirate ships, rather than them raiding us.

Anthony
|
Florida, USA
April 10, 2009

Anthony in Florida writes:

Arm the ships so they can blow the pirates out of the water!!!!

Elizabeth
|
Massachusetts, USA
April 10, 2009

Elizabeth in Massachusetts writes:

Who is funding these piracy operations? To what degree can the U.S. trace and eliminate their funding streams?

Mary L.
|
New York, USA
April 10, 2009

Mary Lou in New York writes:

Our brightest need to take charge here and prepare a resolution that sets forth exactly the punishment that we expect to deliver to the pirates and/or their affiliates post haste. We need to deliver as we can and not dally trying to be the good guy. Good guys finish last!!

Bill N.
April 10, 2009

Bill N. writes:

It is time for the privateers to make some money. Blackwater, Triple Canopy, Aegis International and Dyna Corp. have the necessary experience, investment of people and equipment to tackle this type of protection detail.

Throughout history, maritime law has been quite specific on how it dealt with piracy. I believe that after several "Harsh' examples have been set the cost may become to high for these "Thugs" to continue their business. Please notice I said "Thugs" and not Somali's. Piracy in this region is too lucrative at this point to give up. No negotiations with one entity will be possible in attempting to stop this type of action. The groups involved are to fragmented to be dealt with. The only recourse at this time is to make the act of piracy so unpalatable and so unprofitable that these groups will reconsider their action.This will not be a short term action and may take some time to take hold.

As an additional comment to the question, from my long term experience in the region and the relationships we have cultivated in Somaliland and Puntaland we can set an example by recognizing peaceful regional governments for their efforts to stabilize their regions and securing the safety of their people. I have seen that through very careful diplomatic efforts and the help of surrounding countries such as Djibouti that the way to stabilizing that area is possible, I am convinced that the US and the rest of the nations that have interest in this region would be wise to recognize the governments of Somalland and Puntaland.

Amy
|
Pennsylvania, USA
April 10, 2009

Amy in Pennsylvania writes:

Sorry, Jason, but modern day privateers will only breed an Al-Qaedaesque speed-boat gang. A real solution will require united international action. Nations with superior naval capabilities will need to step up patrols. I like the reaction the U.S. warships got as they closed in...add some Blue Angel razzle-dazzle, they will pee their pants!

Joe
|
California, USA
April 10, 2009

Joe in California writes:

Maybe Afri-com, should have a Air Carrier just of the coast of the Pirates lands, and operate a number of air flights, really pushing the pirates back to port. and go from there.

Rosemary
|
New Jersey, USA
April 10, 2009

Rosemary in New Jersey writes:

I'll agree with the folks calling for arming the merchant marine and training them (of course) in the use of weapons.

Slightly O/T but related, we need to continue and expand the program that provides the same kind of training for airline pilots.

This is a dangerous time. It is not the moment to unilaterally disarm in any way at any level! I think our Secretary of State knows that. I trust her to know the right thing to do.

joe
April 10, 2009

Joe writes:

It's a rubber dingy for god sake! Blow a hole in it, save the captain and let the scum pirates become fish food.

Chris
|
California, USA
April 10, 2009

Chris in California writes:

The U.S. government should stop putting the countries of which these pirates are citizens into debt, so that they can develop, and prosper. Too many countries in Africa are under the heavy financial hand of the IMF or World Bank's ridiculous and restrictive economic policies (influenced mainly by U.S. policies), known as structural adjustment lending. These global banking institutions are applying a blanket solution to varying forms of economies, and are ineffective at creating global economic growth. If these poor people had stability and peace through prosperity, they wouldn't turn to piracy.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
April 10, 2009

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Well said. I may not agree with you on NATO and Russia, but I agree with you on this. Why are we even hesitating to use force against these thugs/criminals? What am I missing here? Are there not laws of the oceans that address these issues? The ransoms they receive are most probably being used to advance terrorism. But even if the money wasn't being used for that purpose, piracy is a CRIME. All nations with ships at sea are at risk. We need to agree to end this now.

Ron
|
New York, USA
April 11, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Get Real.....

Place decoy Ships; and use airstikes to sink approaching Pirate vessels.

Locate Pirate enclaves at Somalia; Destroy them.

Hold Somali government responsible for Piracy.

CONNIE
|
United States
June 25, 2009

Connie in U.S.A. writes:

The US needs to be agressive and arm the crew members -- until then our government needs to send in what ever resources (Navy Seals, etc) to disable the pirates -- use force, no pussyfooting around. These people are terrorists!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 11, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Article 105 of the International Law of the Sea Convention permits the capture of a pirate vessel, but article 110 only allows a warship to identify a ship as being a "pirate" vessel.

Like mariners on cargo ships can't tell the difference...

And then get this folks...the warship must send a launch over to it and ask for its "papers".

I would really like to know the name of the brilliant beaurocrat that came up with this cuckolded idea, so Dipnote can make the idiot famous!

Now it seems to me that with regard to American flagged vessels, crewed by Americans, that the Second Amendment of the Constitution applies to the high seas as it does on land.

Which means that no shipping company owning an American flagged vessel, and hiring Americans to crew it may deny by company policy, an American's right to bear arms in defense of his home or person.

And that the very fact American mariners live aboard an American flagged ship for extended duration gives them the right to defend it against all enemies that may threaten it.

With deadly force if need be.

Now the last time we armed merchant vessels was back in ww2 I believe, and only after we were in a declared state of war.

Given that we are in a declared state of war with al quaida, and al-quaida has been active in Somalia for some time, perhaps we arn't dealing with simple pirates looking to make a fast buck, but are dealing with "Bin Laden's navy".

Unlike McHale's navy, they arn't exactly incompetent, and asd to the question asked here of "who's funding them?"

Well, the shipping lines are doing a real good job of that by paying out huge ransoms.

The Somali president is not the problem, he's publicly invited the international community to put boots on the ground to deal with not only our problem, but his as well.

I suggest we do so, and call it a "Marshall plan for Somalia" after we kick butt, take names, and "walk 'em off the plank".

Unilaterally if no one else is willing. And if we have to do this ourselves, then let's bill every nation that hasn't the guts to join us so this won't be done totally on the backs of the American taxpayer. I think we can at least count on the French this time around, given their recent action.

Wendy
|
California, USA
April 11, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

As our first hope is to get the noble captain -- who offered up himself in lieu of his crew -- out alive, some of the more John Wayne suggestions are moot.

Some kind of Navy Seals punching an underwater hole in the boat (*not* blowing a hole in the boat) might work.

glenn
|
Malaysia
April 11, 2009

Glenn in Malaysia writes:

for a start, stop dumping toxic waste off the coast of somalia so the fisherman can go back to earning a livelihood

Edite
|
Canada
April 11, 2009

Edite in Canada writes:

At the risk of recommending violence or targeted strafing, a good choice would be to blow them out of the water. Do that a couple of times and perhaps the pirates will get the message, hopefully. How can the international community just stand by, play a watchful, waiting game, commiserate amongst themselves, agree woe is me, use wasteful chit chat and let these criminals do their thing. The UN should have their members' heads banged together to wake them up and demand that they issue a resolution, now, to end this lunacy. Just do it! The international community is relying on 21st century-type baby talk and playing nice-nice hoping the pirates will back off and retreat. They are showing more guts and gumption than we are. In fact, we look downright weak, distressed,in disarray, foolish, overwhelmed,and with virtually no plan of action to end this piracy for good. Wake up, world, and smell the coffee.

Stan
|
Illinois, USA
June 23, 2009

Stan in Illinois writes:

I firmly believe that our President is a wimp. If our ships are attached in international waters, we should destroy the attackers. We need to send a strong message to the world, that if you screw with the United States you meet your maker.

nancy
|
California, USA
April 11, 2009

Nancy in California writes:

I agree with Edite from Canada. Blow them out of the water a couple times and I would bet the piracy stops or at least decreases. This may be harsh, but another alternative is to fire upon them -- get close enough to scare them perhaps without killing them. The problem, once they take a hostage, is that it escalates to a whole different level. If you negotiate with them, then this will give them a sign that they should do this more often -- if you don't, you run the risk of having the hostage die. It would seem to me, then, they have to be stopped before this happens and that requires stiff, and probably violent, action.

Zharkov
|
United States
April 11, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Somali pirates just took another ship today, an unarmed tugboat with a crew of 16. While this hits the news, private yachts are also seized by Mexican pirates right off our own coast and this rarely is publicized. I think with each ship taken, we should repeat our advice, so I will.

Our government should get busy requiring loaded firearms aboard U.S.-owned ships and private yachts so our people can stop being humiliated and held for the world as the weak, defenseless victims we appear to be.

The U.S. Navy cannot possibly protect every ship in every part of the world, and by the time they arrive, hostages have been taken and civilian ships are lost.

The reason why home-invasion robberies are rare in Texas but a daily event in California, is because Texans shoot back.

When one guy with an AK-47 can seize an oil tanker because our public officials are more afraid of their own sailors being armed than they are about criminals being armed, the problem is the government.

The ship Captains are not afraid of their own crews and don't object to arming them. In the past, ships had armory rooms where weapons were stored until needed in hostile waters, and it is time to bring back that custom.

My view is that each ship is a sovereign vessel entitled to self-defense, the same as every nation, and it is ridiculous to continue paying millions to pirates when a dozen semiautomatic weapons can be purchased for under $10,000.

We trust the Boy Scouts with rifles, we trust recent high school graduates with military weapons when they enlist in our military, we trust our Olympic shooting team with guns, and we even trust high school dropout security guards with guns, so why not trust our highly trained Merchant Marine officers and yacht owners with guns?

It wouldn't cost the U.S. government a penny for combat operations when a U.S. vessel successfully repels a pirate attack using small arms fire.

Lou
|
United States
April 11, 2009

Lou in U.S.A. writes:

It may be a centuries old criminal act but it requires an 21st century response. Uphold any martime and international laws and prosecute the culprits. A message must be sent that this type of blatant act will not go without having consequesnces. For no action, sends the wrong message.

Kevin
|
Iraq
April 11, 2009

Kevin in Iraq writes:

First of all we all need to pray and hope that this standoff is ended with no casualties! They need some Jesus in them, DOS needs to be in the middle because that is what you do? That is why you are state Dept, you ensure that we americans are safe and well informed. Thank you for your hard work! I say let the military get involve if there is a threat towards the americans but they need to be very tactiful in trying to rescue the ship. The ships were warned of this route, so I put them to blame on their part. People need to listen and stop trying to be hard headed and to listen to what they are saying. We are not the world police. To end this please keep GOD in the middle of evrything we do! I say blow them up out of the water but we need no deaths!!!!

Joanne
|
Illinois, USA
April 11, 2009

Joanne in Illinois writes:

What is the purpose of having a US Navy warship sit and stare at a bunch of pirates and do nothing to save the hostage? Why do we have a Navy? Why are Secretary of Sate Hillary Clinton and President Obama not taking action on resolving this incident?

Henry M.
June 25, 2009

Henry M. writes:

The Somali pirates and the terrorists running rampant in Somalia do not understand diplomacy and only understand force and domination. The Somali will disrespect and ridicule peaceful overtures and they only understand the code of the warrior.

The only solution is to kill the pirates, kill their leaders, and destroy their boats and harbors. Secretaries Clinton and Gates should realize this and take this under consideration.

We are not at war with the Somali but we will not appease these criminals or allow them to intimidate us on the high seas.

Brian
|
Colorado, USA
June 25, 2009

Brian in Colorado writes:

The Fates are smiling on this new President and his new Secretary of State. For a number of different challenges have swirled together to form a daunting challenge that this team, and this Department, can solve through smart Diplomacy.

Oh, Blessings!
In one fell swoop, President Obama can show his detractors (and the rest of the World) how to deal with failing states, Islamist "terrorist" groups, and piracy.
Oh, Happy Day!
This can even be timed to coincide with the annual celebration of Christ's rising from the dead.
On second thought, considering the Muslim position on that claim, let's not play up that aspect.

What Would Grownups Do?
For starters, there is a marginally functioning local government in the Northeast corner of Somalia, the Puntland autonomous region. The new President elected in January 2009, General "Faroole," just told the BBC that he encourages the US Navy to liberate not only Captain Phillips but all 200+ seafarers being held hostage. Do it by force and pay no ransom!

That sounds like someone we ought to support.
In fact, working through this local government is the key to success. The US ought to help build up this local government so that they can handle the pirates. Help them build a Coast Guards force, a local police force, improve their judicial and penitentiary systems.

Consider the collateral benefits.
A stronger local government will facilitate the distribution of urgently needed food aid. But it will also stabilize the area so that commerce can flourish, reducing and eventually eliminating the need for outside aid.
A stronger local government, and the security and stability it entails, will inoculate Puntland against the contagion of al-Shabaab.
And a stronger local government will patrol sovereign waters, nabbing both foreign poachers and domestic brigands.

Oh, wouldn't it be loverly?

Keith
|
Florida, USA
April 11, 2009

Keith in Florida writes:

With the recent events surrounding the Maersk container vessel and the hostage situation that is currently going on, I believe that the U.S. Government needs to go IMMEDIATELY to the UN Security Council and get authorization to use military force to go into Somalia and capture (and if necessary, kill) these Somali Pirates, and/or bring them to justice. The pirates should be then tried by an international tribunal to bring them to justice and throw them into Prison!!! This could even be a coalition effort involving several countries. Look what France did, kudos to them for using force to not tolerate the Somali pirates.

palgye
|
South Korea
April 11, 2009

Palgye in South Korea writes:

We support ours supports inside and thinks solving one method. The civilizational ratio is very low, is a country where the adverse sentiment is big about external influence and the above the citizens support the pirate regular warfare or the access method which is official thinks that the possibility of the terror which is indiscriminate to be high is a qualitative possibility about many time and effort and outside world. Of course, activity of the regular army which is official and open to the public in parallel and does thinks that. Attaches and missionary work and thinks ngo that must execute the education which lowers a support and an illiterate ratio about the people which leads. The existence base of the pirates thinks that they become object of envy support receiving because from poorly the escape is possible. - Thinks that the regiment sensitivity which is tribal is operating. And, the small end is and Oh selects some and thinks that the method to send studying abroad is. Military affairs, agriculture and trade, administrative etc.(if, if China and Russia only conceives comes and goes and capital which will not be problem which is any thinks that is,) Until here secret intention is the thought which lacks a little.

Ron
|
New York, USA
April 11, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Piracy is Terrorism

What are we waiting for?

John
|
Virginia, USA
April 12, 2009

John in Virginia writes:

International law is pretty clear -- UNSCR 1851 calls upon member states to take action under article VII; the Somali government (such as it is) has specifically requested action. Sounds like Korea.
The Convention on Law of the Sea specifically names piracy as a crime with universal jurisdiction; U.S. Code also defines it as a crime punishable by life in prison. Under UNCLOS, while only warships can inspect suspected vessels, any vessel can resist attack. If the vessel is captured anyway, the captured ship is now a pirate, and any warship may take action.

The only question is whether we 1) arm the merchants (deterrence works), 2) take land-based action (the pirates are feeding their ransom money to terrorists, so it's in every nation's interest), or 3) issue letters of marque (the U.S. isn't a party to the Treaty of Paris, it's in the U.S. Constitution, and guidelines are in U.S. law). An interesting twist is that the U.S. President can specifically authorize U.S. flagged ships--not just warships--to take action against pirates. Title 33 USC (the navigation laws).

Janet
|
North Carolina, USA
April 12, 2009

Janet in North Carolina writes:

The international community should respond by continuing to intimidate with naval forces. Hopefully the captain will be released unharmed. Negotiations need to continue in order to put these criminals, the so called pirates, in prison.

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