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Fordham International Law Journal


piracy, Somali pirates, international law


This Article argues that pirates should be treated as terrorists and that piracy-fighting countries should rely on a variety of antiterrorist conventions to justify the capture and prosecution of pirates. Piracy resembles terrorism in many aspects, on both a theoretical and practical level, and reliance on antiterrorist conventions by piracy-fighting countries will provide these countries with greater legal tools to battle pirates within an established international legal framework. To provide a comprehensive outlook on piracy, Part I of this Article describes the history of piracy and its reappearance in the modern world. Part II briefly describes the resurgence of modern-day piracy, first in Southeast Asia and then in Somalia. Part III provides the current international legal framework for battling piracy, by focusing first on the definition of piracy in international law, and then on the existing international legal authority to apprehend and prosecute pirates. Part IV describes the existing options and solutions for fighting pirates, including domestic prosecutions, prosecutions in ad hoc tribunals, regional partnerships, and the aid of international maritime organizations. Part V advocates the need to fight piracy more aggressively, explaining the similarity between pirates and terrorists, and argues that pirates should be apprehended and prosecuted like terrorists. Finally, Part V also advocates for the need to rebuild Somalia and its institutions, as this is the only permanent solution to eradicate piracy in this region of the world. Before concluding, this Article briefly addresses a potential criticism: that the fight against piracy may be entirely illusory because maritime powers may not have any true incentive to combat pirates, for a variety of financial, geopolitical, or strategic reasons. This Article recognizes such criticism, but advances the argument that pirates (at least theoretically or normatively) need to be fought with full force. Thus, this Article concludes that serious efforts by piracy-fighting countries will be needed to resolve the piracy issue, and that, above all, piracy-fighting countries may need to focus on rebuilding war-torn regions to prevent lawlessness, including piracy, from thriving in other parts of the world.


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