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Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law


Somalia, piracy, international law, maritime policy


The rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia over the last five years has been spectacular, amounting to a true crisis in international law. During the first six months of 2011, Somali pirates attacked 163 ships and took 361 sailors hostage. As of June 30, 2011, Somali pirates were holding 20 ships and 420 crew members, demanding millions of dollars in ransom for their release. Moreover, pirates have been attacking larger ships, such as oil tankers, and using more potent weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Pirates have also been attacking during monsoon season, an otherwise risky endeavor. According to the International Maritime Bureau Director, Pottengal Mukundan, "[i]n the last six months, Somali pirates attacked more vessels than ever before and they're taking higher risks." In sum, piracy has increased shipping expenses, costing an estimated $10 billion per year in global trade. What has sparked this international law crisis off the coast of Somalia? Moreover, what can the international community do in order to alleviate the crisis and prevent piracy from spreading to other regions of the world? What should be the way forward? This paper will briefly address these issues by focusing first on the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia, before turning to an examination of international law on maritime piracy, and by finally suggesting some solutions for the future in the global fight against piracy.




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