Recent years have witnessed an unprecedented surge in piratical attacks off the
Horn of Africa. While attacks against shipping in the northwestern Indian Ocean
are by no means a new phenomenon, the scale and scope of recent attacks, predominantly
attributed to Somali "pirates," has made these waters comfortably the
most dangerous in the world and has imperiled key sea-lanes vital to global maritime
commerce.1 Although these developments have spurred the international
community to respond through a range of measures, including most saliently the
deployment of warships to the region from a diverse array of navies in order to
conduct counterpiracy patrols, piratical attacks have persisted and now pose a
major threat to shipping across a broad swath of the Indian Ocean.
In this chapter we provide a critical assessment of recent developments off the
Horn of Africa. We outline the rise in maritime insecurity off the Horn of Africa
and assess a number of the key drivers associated with the rise of Somali piracy.
We then examine international responses to the problem, including relevant UN
Security Council resolutions and military responses as well as preventative measures
on the part of the shipping industry. In the latter part of the chapter we provide
an analysis of the international legal framework for dealing with piracy and
criminal justice cooperation issues arising from Somali piracy as well as some of
the emerging legal developments designed to address deficiencies in bringing the
pirates to justice and tackling the problem of maritime insecurity off the Horn of
Africa. Finally, we offer concluding thoughts and suggest that without addressing
fundamental root causes on land in Somalia, piracy off the Horn of Africa is likely
to prove an enduring concern.