Somali Piracy: Jurisdictional Issues, Enforcement Problems and Potential Solutions


Sociology and Criminal Justice

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2010


With the dramatic surge of attacks in 2007-08, the Somali piracy crisis has attained a new sense of urgency in the international community. Somalia has been in the international spotlight for some time due to its status as a failed state. Since the overthrow of its leader Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has been without any effective internal political structure or national government. This political vacuum led, in turn, to the dramatic escalation in incidents of piracy off the Somali coast in 2007 and 2008, with many pirate attacks occurring initially against foreign vessels in the high seas off the Somali coast and then extending into the territorial waters of Somalia itself as the pirates transport the captured vessels to the coast. These acts of piracy have continued unabated into 2009. A resurgence of Somali piracy is particularly troublesome in light of the nation’s geographical location and topography: Somalia boasts Africa’s longest coastline, spanning 3,025 miles, and is located in close proximity to key shipping routes connecting the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. This resurgence of piracy and the very real danger it poses to seafarers and seafaring trade near Somalia’s coastline demands the attention of the international community.

Journal Title

Georgetown Journal of International Law

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