The
first major modern international initiative which sought to bring further
stability to the seas was the implementation of the United National Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1994. Amongst a host of legal precedence set
by this resolution, this resolution also considered acts of piracy by
determining that, legally, “piracy is a universal crime, and subjects pirates
to arrest and prosecution by any nation.” (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 6).
However, there is an interesting caveat to this stability-seeking resolution
presented by Anderson. UNCLOS, passed roughly three years following the
collapse of the Somali government in 1991, restricted Somali fisherman to a
clearly, and legally, defined area influencing increased competition between
Somali fishermen (Anderson, 2010, pp. 326-327). Anderson points to a major
deficiency in the language, and thus legal issues, of UNCLOS. The language employed
in UNCLOS Article 220 supposes that there are operational and legitimate
government institutions with the capability of combating, enforcing, and
prosecuting pirates under international law which are mechanisms Somalia does
not possess (Anderson, 2010, pp. 328). Due to the nonexistence of an
international enforcing agency (i.e. a world police), Anderson argues that the
“international community is failing to self-regulate by ignoring evidence
suggesting that its members are taking advantage of a collapsed state that has
no ability to enforce international law” which thus “forces the local
communities to take matters into their own hands” (Anderson, 2010, pp. 328).

 

Around
2008 the international community began a more aggressive approach to combat
piracy, which grew ever more expansive and proactive in the years following.
According to The World Bank, in 2008 the UN Security Council passed 13
Resolutions to support anti-piracy operations aimed at the Horn of Africa (The
World Bank, 2013, pp. xi). One of the most significant resolutions was the 2008
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 (from here on UNRES 1851).

 

UNRES
1851 was a significant resolution aiming to counter piracy in and around
Somalia. The resolution itself expanded upon previous resolutions concerning
piracy in Somalia (Resolutions 1814, 1816, 1838, 1844, and 1846) as well as
responding to TFG requests for international support in combating piracy
(United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851, 2009, pp. 140). UNRES 1851,
according to Alessi and Hanson, “authorized states with navies deployed in the
Gulf of Aden to, with the permission of Somalia’s Transitional Federal
Government, take action against pirates and armed robbers within Somalia”
(Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 5). The language of the UNRES 1851 is very
specific in that a State must receive explicit permission from the Somali
government (TFG) in order to operate (United Nations Security Council
Resolution 1851, 2009, pp. 141) and which is granted for a period of 12 months
(Daxecker and Paris, 2013, pp. 941). UNRES 1851 also authorizes international
actors, with the permission and capacity to do so and providing operations
remain in accordance with international law, employ naval forces and military
aircraft in order to combat piracy off the Somali coast (United Nations
Security Council Resolution 1851, 2009, pp. 141). Additionally, UNRES 1851
created the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) in January
2009 with mandate to “address military and operational coordination, capacity
building, judicial issues, shipping self-awareness and public information related
to piracy” (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 5) in addition to “facilitate
coordination of the 60 countries and 20 international organizations working to
prevent piracy (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xii). Another international, although
African led, initiative was the 2009 Djibouti Code of Conduct which was tasked
with the implementation of initiatives demanded by UNRES 1851 (Alessi and Hanson,
2012, pp. 5) and (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xii). Further international
programs have included, “the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence
Co-ordination Center, and the Indian Ocean Commission Anti-Piracy partnership
program” (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xii).

 

International
naval operations have also been affected by UNRES 1851. Following this
resolution, North American Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU),
United States of America (U.S.), missions have been deployed to the Gulf of
Aden. The EU mission to Somalia is conducted under the European Union Naval
Force Somalia via Operation Atalanta, NATO via Operation Ocean Shield, and
Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151) (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xi) and (Nelson and
Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). According to the NATO website, in 2008 NATO reacted to UN overtures
for assistance in combating pirates with Operation Allied Provider (2008), Allied
Protector (2009), Operation Ocean Shield (2009-2016) and NATO support for the
U.S.-led CTF151 (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 2016). Other individual
State initiatives have included states such as India, China, Russia, Australia
(Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 6), and as we will see later, Japan. The World
Bank reports that over 40 States are involved in some capacity through
operations listed above in order to counter piracy (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xi).
In 2011, Nelson and Fitch report approximately 30 States as having maritime missions
conducted in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). Nevertheless,
I surmise that 2011, witnessing the peak of pirate attacks, was especially
difficult for maritime forces. Nelson and Fitch assert that, because the
pirates operated much further than traditionally was the case, “the high-risk
area includes more than 1.1 million square nautical miles of ocean. Given that
this vast area is patrolled by approximately 25 naval vessels, each vessel is
faced with the daunting task of patrolling, on average, 44,000 square nautical
miles” (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). From this we can envision the daunting
task faced by international navies.

 

One
may ask, since pirate operations, “begin and end on land” (Daxecker and Prins,
2013, pp. 943), what has Somalia, or the international community done in terms
of ground-based operations? Indeed, one reason for the success of the Roman
General Pompey in his operations against the Mediterranean pirates was his
utilization of both maritime and terrestrial (Army) forces (Caleb Klinger, 2008).
Nelson and Fitch propose that the Western nations have been reluctant to
involve ground forces due to their experiences in Somalia in 1993. Moreover,
they state that Somali citizens themselves are rather averse to foreign
military boots on the ground (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2). The European
Union’s Operation Atalanta was tasked with onshore operations however limited
these missions to helicopter operations and have avoided deploying ground forces.
Furthermore, Nelson and Fitch averred that although African Union Mission in
Somalia (AMISOM) could technically combat pirates, AMISOM has primarily focused
on Al-Shabab (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2). Internally, both Puntland and
Somaliland created domestic forces tasked with combating the pirates; however,
despite some success and desire to rid themselves of the pirates, they lack the
resources to do so (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 2). Undeniably, in order to
fight the pirates there must be resources, something which Somalia clearly
lacks. However, in the case of Somalia there is a catch to sending kinetic
weapons or providing training in order to combat piracy – “the United Nations
Arms Embargo on Somalia, Resolution 733 (1992) and 1844 (2008), prohibits not
only the delivery of weapons to Somalia, but the provision of technical
assistance or training of a military nature without UN approval” (Nelson and
Fitch, 2012, pp. 3). Therefore, while the UN wants to combat piracy and support
the TFG in this regard, these two Resolutions (733 and 1844) are an unintended
hindrance to this goal.

 

International
action has, as we have seen, included a number of individual States and
collective organizations. Interestingly, all of the literature reviewed in the
above two sections did not mention Japanese actions once or Japanese
participation in international efforts. This is surprising as Japan has taken
upon a greater role in many counter-piracy operations. Because Japanese trade
volume is so maritime dependent, the activities of Somali pirates in these
waters required Japan’s intervention to ensure the vitality and safety of these
shipping lanes and preserve the Japanese economy.