The Business of Piracy in Somalia

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46 Citations (Scopus)


This article argues that understanding why Somali piracy has resisted control efforts requires understanding that it is a criminal business rather than a conventional international security problem. We statistically model Somali piracy and draw two conclusions: first, piracy increases with economic stability, and second, naval interdiction efforts are stabilising but not significantly reducing piracy. We argue that these conclusions are not surprising if piracy is understood as an organised crime. Our argument has four components. First, Somali piracy is a land-based problem, and naval control mechanisms are not deterring pirates. Second, improving Somalia's anarchic political situation will not necessarily stop piracy: our statistical analysis demonstrates that piracy is a business which improves with a more stable operating environment. Third, piracy is organised criminal activity, and like other organised crime groups, will be difficult to control, especially if it becomes embedded in state structures. Finally, we argue that few of the relevant players have any real incentives to alter their behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-578
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Strategic Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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