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

Lenora
|
Virginia, USA
April 12, 2009

Lenora in Virginia writes:

International community must put a stop to piracy at sea. It's out of control.

Judith F.
|
New York, USA
April 12, 2009

Judith F. in New York writes:

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I am trying to follow how the hostage situation is being resolved. It's hard for me to believe that, as reported, the U.S. "broke off negotiations" with the group of Somali elders who were being helpful. In my view -- we should have accepted their offer to free the hostage in exchange for freedom for the pirates. Plus pay the ransom if necessary! What's the difference if another 4 pirates are running around there? This is not a time to enforce our rigid notions of justice, especially if it has no effect.

We should do all that's necessary to free the captain, and THEN begin an intelligent international strategy to deal with the piracy situation. This should BEGIN WITH a plan to develop other economic opportunities for desperate Somalis -- and perhaps other scenarios that will satisfy their appetite for dramatic and bold action. Hot competition for scholarships in the U.S. perhaps?

Thank you.

Harry
|
Virginia, USA
April 12, 2009

Harry in Virginia writes:

Piracy deserves the same response it did in the 19th Century. Do what Thomas Jefferson did and wipe them off the face of the Earth.

Alan
|
Ohio, USA
April 12, 2009

Alan in Ohio writes:

21st century response? What is that? Pirates need to be dealt some Jeffersonian Diplomacy. No Ransom, They Surrender Unconditionally, Attach a line to the life boat and keep it in International Waters for as long as it takes. If the American Captain is harmed they should be tried then executed. No Exceptions.

TINA
|
Vermont, USA
June 25, 2009

Tina in Vermont writes:

Hello and thanks for this opportunity,

My comment is an appeal for our government's response to this piracy situation to come from a recognition of it as a symptom of an ever-present social disease that has gone unchecked in any real and substantial way. For the last decade the unregulated business ventures into Africa have been conducted without much if any social conscience, global responsibility or accountability. These are the original criminals in this situation. Any time I heard former Pres. Bush speak about Africa I was reminded of our own recent history in North America, namely the frontier days. He is a bully who occasionally did something positive to keep the balance. Smarter than we think. So when toxic waste was and is dumped and left for the locals to deal with and we turn a deaf ear, blind eye and some kind of dissociative indifference to the very real devastation of communities we lose our credibility in a widespread way. I wonder what any of us would do had we been born in east Africa in the early '80s. Are they just crazy or are they desperately holding onto what self respect they have left if any, and taking matters into their own hands? This is human compassion 101. As an American citizen I do not take the piracy personally. It didn't have to go this far. I know in my heart that Sec. Clinton has a grasp of the larger social picture and encourage her to share her true insights with the world. Some may be criminals, however, most are probably average people playing the cards dealt them. I am from VT and strongly suspect their is a great wisdom at work with the hostage Navy Captain who is being held. We must live up to the principles we promote. Our demonstration of strength via principled behavior is the key to effective solution. Thus far, since the 20th of Jan. '09 the foreign policy has improved tremendously, you are changing some of the foundation and that is positive. Many of us average citizens, thanks to broadband mostly, are becoming better informed and like myself shall actively support standing up to the hate mongers and political spinmasters. Rise to your principles, stop letting war mongers and gangsters dictate the context in which you speak. Africa has been massively wounded in many ways. That is the ultimate disrespect via dishonesty and violence. The U.S. must show strength via humility. Suck it up and tell the truth. True amends are LIVING amends. There is a huge difference between admitting harms done in pursuit of solution and groveling in one's own mess while pointing fingers. The U.S. can do this, I shall do more on my grassroots level while you do globally.

Thanks again for this chance to connect,

Tina in VT

Leonard
|
Florida, USA
April 12, 2009

Leonard in Florida writes:

"Can Somalia be used to solve the root issues in the Middle East conflict?" Somalia is haven to these pirates in large part due to the lack of an effective government. Therefore, the pirates rule within the territories under their influence. Bottom line, Somalia has abdicated its governence of much of its north-eastern coast, the pirates must be denied safe haven, the Palestinian peoples core issues can be traced back to the siezure of their homes and land in the establishment of Israel, and here is an opportunity to set the Middle East on a new course totally different from the recent past by establishing a Palestinian state in the north-eastern areas of the former Somalia.

ron
|
New York, USA
April 12, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Post-Release statement on CNN:

When a top-ranking US Maritime Academy Official calls Shipping ...a losing lottery ticket".. and Piracy a "...winning business plan...." we are all in deep trouble. Where on earth does this kind of complacency come from? Have we really disconnected the hijack of Private Maritime Shipping Industry from the enforcement of International Law? Pirates are wet-terrorists. They are organized crime agents in international waters, they would seize nuclear materials and sell them to AQ in a hot second. Next time they strike, pay them immediately with bio-infected cash.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 12, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hat's off to the US navy SEAL team that rescued the captain, who swam for it a second time.

Hoo-ahh!

Score 1 for the good guys.

Diane
|
Connecticut, USA
April 12, 2009

Diane in Connecticut writes:

I believe something should be done about piracy. Piracy has been illegal since its inception. There is no reason for the modern world to put up with it. Teach pirates that piracy does not pay and it will end. I know this is probably not an easy task but it is one that most of the world can agree upon and that should help.

john
|
Alaska, USA
April 13, 2009

John in Alaska writes:

I agree with Zharkov in USA. Limited arms should be allowed on cargo ships to protect their cargo and themselves. This makes more sense than curing the problem with mega amounts of money, diplomacy, and military intervention after the fact.

palgye
|
South Korea
April 13, 2009

Palgye in South Korea writes:

i see this article,

In Rescue of Captain, Navy Kills 3 Pirates

it`s good.................................................

kasperus
|
Poland
April 13, 2009

Kasperus in Poland writes:

To control piracy in Somalia diplomatically will take years. Since pirates are bandits, no matter how organized, the international community should take a firm stand with the pirates and stop paying ransom. We don't pay ransom to organized crime cartels, why should we do it here. Firm, pugnacious or military action like that of France and U.S. hopefully multilateral, will be a deterrent even though in the absence of agreement, unilateral punitive action may provoke terrorist activity.

Edite
|
Canada
April 13, 2009

Edite in Canada writes:

Bravo, WELL DONE, kudos, plaudits and THANKS to those wonderful U.S. NAVY SEALS. Can't thank you enough for your courageous, professional, sharp and great rescue. You are amazingly well-trained men and deserve medals for your bravery and expertise. Saying thank you just doesn't seem quite like enough. Now, DOS, strategies need to be put in place now, not to placate the pirates, but to convince them that criminal acts of piracy will not be tolerated by the international community. We all recognize that actions always speak louder than words and more action will be coming their way if piracy continues. Piracy is a distinct provocation and requires a very strong actionable response, one they will all understand.

Tad
|
Ohio, USA
April 13, 2009

Tad in Ohio writes:

Piracy on the high seas is a real and continuing threat to international commerce. Seafaring nations must not tolerate this type of crime. What people need to realise is the real victims of piracy are innocent seamen who are only trying to make a living for themselves and their families. Something MUST be done to protect them.

Navies can patrol waters where pirates operate, but they cannot be everywhere at once. Shipping companies need to put armed security officers on their ships that travel through places like The Gulf Of Aden and The Indian Ocean. But armed officers aboard ships is not enough. Governments need to enact legislation that allows those armed officers to properly protect themselves and the crews they serve with. Too often, laws are used against the innocent people who are legitimately defending themselves from attack by criminals bent on committing violent acts.

Secretary Clinton talks of "working to bring an appropriate 21st century response." So far the only response she has given is to laugh about how Morocco worked with us to end the priacy threat in North Africa during The Jefferson Administration. According to my research, Morocco got out of the piracy business against American ships after a Navy task force under the command of Commodore Edward Preble forced them too. If Secretary Clinton cannot even be bothered to research the history of the piracy problem, how is she supposed to come up with an appropriate response?

So while Secretary Clinton laughs and President Obama apologises to the world for America because apparently he believes everything wrong in the world is America's fault. Innocent merchant seamen from America and other seafaring nations continue to go in harm's way. Because navies aren't big enough to protect them all and no seems to want to let them protect themselves when navies can't be there to do it. The first step to solution is for Secreatry Clinton to stop laughing and President Obama to stop apologising and to stand up for the innocent victims of this abhorrent crime.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Alaska -- You can step on ants, but until you deal with the ant hill, you'll still have an ant problem.

Liban H.
|
United Kingdom
April 13, 2009

Liban H. in the United Kingdom writes:

To be honest the only way to deal with this problem of piracy is to deal witht the root cause of the problem and as we can see the root problem is Somalia itself. What the International Community in particular the United states can do is to empower the current somali government headed by Sheikh Sharif, in order to establish law and order in somalia. After that the Pirate will no longer have a safe haven in somalia as well other bandits and terrorist, who are causing a major problem to the security of the world.

As Lord Palmerston once said 'taking the wasps nest is more effective then catching the wasps one by one.' When somalia has a function government then we shall see and to the piracy. Does anyone agree?

John
|
Greece
April 13, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Great balls of fire!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bB5xL577r4 -- dedicated to the Seals and Mr. Gates.

Rebels indeed took the first message...

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
April 13, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

QUOTE: "BRAVO ZULU TO THE U.S. NAVY SEALS AND US SAILORS ALONG WITH THE U.S. MARINES. PRESIDENT OBAMA MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE AND MR. GATES EXECUTED IT VERY WELL. PROUD DAY FOR ALL U.S. NAVAL VETERANS AND ACTIVE DUTY. GLAD TO SEE THE CAPTAIN RELEASED AND SAFE." UNQUOTE.

Godbless and Great Job!!!

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 13, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece, Back in 2003 or so, my brother showed me an 8.5" x 11" photo given to him by a friend who had just become a SEAL. It was a "graduation" photo of his teammates dressed impeccably in their dress whites, some standing, some kneeling, a completely traditionally posed, "team photo"....not a bubble rising....18 feet under water.

You'd have to become like a Buddhist monk to achieve that kind of grinding dicipline and exhaustive routine of investigating one's potential.

A HALO jump onto a U.S. destroyer? All in a day's work.

Thing is, there's three dead pirates that didn't give folks any other choice but to shoot them.

If pirates "walk the plank" into a courtroom and a prison cell, so be it. That would be a testiment to civilization. However, each one of us chooses their own destiny, and pirates might ought to consider other options, like not putting themselves in harm's way by being pirates.

Life is hard, but it's harder when you're being stupid.

Live and learn I guess. Or not.

Jon
|
Texas, USA
April 13, 2009

Jon in Texas writes:

Congratulations to the SEALs and the decisionmakers who allowed the resolution of the Maersk hostage situation.

Why can't the flag nations of the merchant vessels, or a centralized organization such as NATO or the UN, station Marines on each merchant vessel that enters the waters surrounding Somalia. Well-defined rules of engagement should allow the Marines to protect the vessels and would discourage the pirates. Is it the shipping companies themselves that prevent this from happening?

Failing that, why not organize convoys of ships to traverse waters surrounding Somalia? Each convoy would be protected by one or more naval vessels that could have interdiction authority. Rules of engagement should be flexible enough to allow the commander on the scene to respond as necessary to any piracy threat.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
April 14, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

SOLVING THE PIRACY ISSUE CONSIDERATION

1. I believe the U.S. Navy should implement a line of force, bring in enough AEGIS Destroyers to create a barrier between the cargo ships passing through the area. A great wall of force that the pirates cannot enter! Blockaid all small vessels trying to make it out to the open seas.

2. The Navy might also want to consider the Silent Service to provide assistance rooting out the pirates.

3. Bait and Catch method -- Bait the cargo ships and have Destoyers go around to pickup those pirates.

4. A great wall of force 20 miles away from the coast should be ideal with plenty of U.S. Warships having Gun Sights and surviellience on the pirate ships.

Countries around the world should be working with the United States to prevent piracy from happening. Especially, if they are shipping goods. We all should be working together to root out piracy!

Georgiann
|
California, USA
April 14, 2009

Georgiann in California writes:

Hmmm. Bio-infected cash...now that's a thought. Two points --

Love the Jeffersonian idea, however zero tolerance with immediate action seems to be the safest course. Vessels must take up arms and be prepared to defend themselves. A "Take no prisoners" attitude in self-defense will require that pirates attempting to board a vessel be killed. No questions asked.

To alleviate culpability on behalf of the shipowners, a program of specially trained internationally recognized ship-marshals could be hired to ride along on randomly selected vessels.

Marco
|
United States
April 14, 2009

Marco in U.S.A. writes:

Give the opportunity to all to negotiate, but don't expect the answer yes all the time. Sometimes saying yes to something can actually be a bad thing, and saying no can have just as much the same affect with no regards to whom the individual be. Approach the community by this standard, yet conserve your words, but take with action. Large nations must unite to stop such groups, but we must see past our own personal interests and come into what is common amongst all. The international community can respond by taking control of themselves, of their own lives, and by living right amongst all man, woman, and child. Bring no wrong and you will see a major positive change.

mandy
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 14, 2009

Mandy in Washington writes:

I completely agree that the best solution is to arm ships; however, if the government cannot stand having armed vessels then they need to take initiative. Now.

An alternative is to target the motherships. Pirates can operate in small lifeboats hundreds of miles off the coast only because they use a mothership. Naval ships, regardless of what country, should start picking up these "bases" and bring them back to shore. Here we can disarm them and continue to deal with them as we please.

Action needs to be taken. This last episode with the Maersk has really hit home with Americans. Hopefully people will finally get their heads out of the clouds and realize that this is an on-going issue that has to be taken seriously. Someone needs to step up to the plate and just take charge.

Kenny
|
California, USA
April 14, 2009

Kenny in California writes:

Given my rather simplistic understanding of the situation, and without the knowing of all details the U.S. needs to head things off in the U.N. With its veto power it could force other countries to hopefully push towards greater restrictions. The ability to sell black market parts of ships is how the entity exists, therefore if countries which have looser legislation to unload the goods were put under pressure (perhaps economically to begin negotiations) it might force the entire community to help police itself and take on international pirates. After all these countries can not sustain themselves without trade, and by closing off markets they base country would be forced to police itself in order to sustain itself with free trade in the international community. Shortly after the U.N. could then vote to end "international waters" or create a governing board of the 22 industrialized nations with a world power oversight committee that must sign off as actions which could include The European Union, Russia, China, and the U.S.

Toni
|
Minnesota, USA
April 14, 2009

Toni in Minnesota writes:

Could satellite technology assist in the patroling of these areas? Isn't there some way to coordinate satellite technology with shipping schedules to help keep an eye on possible targets?

Toni
|
Minnesota, USA
April 14, 2009

Toni in Minnesota writes:

Maybe the ships could be equipped with sonic protection. Irritating and incapacitating sound to deter the pirates.

Mike
|
Virginia, USA
April 14, 2009

Mike in Virginia writes:

Use private companies like Blackwater to guard the ships -- a lot cheaper than paying a huge ransom like the Saudi's did. The international community needs to step up its presence in Somalia to resolve the political issues which necessitate people making a living out of piracy and attack land bases associated with these criminal organizations. China where you at?

Marsha
|
Ohio, USA
April 14, 2009

Marsha in Ohio writes:

Secretary Clinton is correct about Morocco's stance on pirates (then called corsairs) vis-a-vis the United States. According to U.S. Naval Records, Morocco was the first nation to recognize the sovereign United States and gave letters of introduction to other Barbary Coast leaders to give preference to the United States over Great Britain.

That said, one must also recall that at one point piracy was so common that even the Pope maintained his own fleet of corsairs.

Piracy in the past was a means of generating federal revenue to avoid taxing a nation's impoverished citizens.

Piracy now may be a symptom of the failed unified Somali state. The fracturing of Somalia prevents a national government from regulating oil exploration by Canada, Mexico, China and perhaps other countries.

Piracy may be a dis-ease caused by the political insecurity fomented by a lack of international recognition and support of a federal government in Somalia.

Whatever happened to FDR's Atlantic Charter and the right to self-determination?

Sorry, Tad. This Buckeye does not see eye-to-eye with you.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
April 14, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Only one: Pass new International Treaties that allow armed private contractors. A five or six man Professional Security Team would be more than sufficient and are available at a cost to all countries Taxpaying citizens for much less than deployment and artificial political promenades, which only empower these terrorist. Arrangements can be made for the locking of weapons for defense at port of any foreign port. There is no legitimate excuse for all this rhetoric and press.

I was under the impression that piracy was an act of war in International waters and do not understand the difficulty of hiring professional guards/soldiers.

There is no real manner to treat this beyond what it is. It would be excusable to some extent if those involved were trying to develop a democracy within Somalia; however, that is not the case and all argumentation of any political reference is irreverent.

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