US Navy/Eric L. Beauregard/Wikimedia

One of international law’s oldest crimes, piracy surged in the Gulf of Aden in the early 2000s as a result of chaos and civil war in Somalia. A decade later, a similar spate of attacks plagued the Gulf of Guinea, targeting oil tankers and cargo ships. As pirates improve their ability to strike further out to sea, and as merchant vessels struggle with issues of security, insurance, and ransom payments, the international community has to protect shipping lanes and decide where to detain and prosecute pirates once they are captured.

Latest in Piracy


Piracy and the Political Question Doctrine in Non-Conflict Uses of Force

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea issued a provisional order in the Enrica Lexie case on August 24th. This epic legal battle between India and Italy concern's the latter’s efforts to prosecute Italian marines who accidentally killed Indian fishermen that they had mistaken them for pirates. In June, Italy submitted the dispute for arbitration to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which on Aug.

Relationship between LOAC and IHRL

Readings: "Using Force on Land to Suppress Piracy at Sea," by Steven R. Obert

Although piracy in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates is sharply down in the last year or two, threats remain and an increase in attacks is far from impossible.  After all, little has been done to disrupt the land-based organizational, logistical, and financial structures of  Somali piracy.  Nearly all anti-piracy use-of-force actions have taken place at sea, without direct repercussions for the pirates ashore.


Giving David Cole the Final Word

Over at Just Security, David Cole rounds out our exchange on global international privacy rights. I'm going to let him have the final word here and merely link to his post as a reader service. As I think our two views are amply spelled out in the exchange, I'm going to resist the urge to respond further. Many thanks to Cole---and to Orin Kerr---for an illuminating discussion.

International Law

Piracy Convictions Affirmed by Fourth Circuit in Unnited States v. Dire

A Fourth Circuit panel has affirmed the convictions of the Somali pirates who in 2010 attacked the USS Nicholas, rejecting their contention that their failure to actually board (let alone seize) the ship during the attack precluded a piracy charge.  The key passage:

At bottom, then, the defendants’ position is irreconcilable with the noncontroversial notion that Congress intended in § 1651 to define piracy as a universal jurisdiction crime.

Jus ad Bellum/UN Charter/Sovereignty

Yes, the EU has a navy, sort of...

As Raffaela noted in today's news summary, it is being reported today that EU naval forces attacked pirate bases on the Somali mainland.  Several people have asked: "The EU has a navy?"

The background here is legally, operationally, and diplomatically interesting.  These anti-piracy operations are conducted as part of a multilateral coalition, acting pursuant to several UN Security Council Resolutions, including UNSCR 1816 and 1851.  That latter resolution authorizes states cooperating with the Somali Transitional Federal Governmen

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