Modern Piracy: Legal Challenges and Responses.

Author:Brown, Donald L.
Position:Book review

Modern Piracy: Legal Challenges and Responses. Edited by Douglas Guilfoyle. Cheltenham UK, Northampton MA: Edward Elgar, 2013. Pp. xvi, 354. Index. $145, 93 [pounds sterling].

Douglas Guilfoyle's collection of scholarly essays charts a course for a comprehensive understanding of the nature of modern piracy and navigates the evolving challenges for state governance and private commercial interests across Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, and the Gulf of Guinea. Guilfoyle, an international law scholar from University College London and a distinguished authority on piracy, has assembled new and updated articles by a veteran crew of authors from academia, government, and the private sector who report on the work of the 2011 Modern Laws of High Seas Piracy Project. Not surprisingly, these high-caliber writers present an exceptional across-the-board view of the law related to maritime violence and its impacts. The insightful manner in which Guilfoyle presents the material has produced an authoritative primer for state officials, practitioners, and scholars alike.

Guilfoyle employs a four-part approach to deliver a holistic view of modern piracy. First, he examines the context of regional forms of maritime violence and the evolving nature of the threat. Next, he explores the legal framework for state action to counter piracy, the need for interagency and intrastate coordination mechanisms, and the expanded efforts to effect timely law-enforcement prosecutions. He then addresses the impacts of piracy on the commercial sector, including the viability of private armed security as deterrence as well as maritime insurance, ransom payments, and other market measures to mitigate risk. Guilfoyle concludes by skillfully connecting the works of contributing authors to produce an indispensable resource on this topic.

To put piracy into context, Guilfoyle starts part I with Robert Beckman's chapter comparing maritime violence in the littorals of Southeast Asia with the Somali piracy problem set off of the Horn of Africa. The former, prevalent in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is best characterized as armed robbery within the jurisdiction of coastal states that effectively countered the threat through cooperating measures, including the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (1) (ReCAAP). While effective regional counter-piracy agreements continue to be a necessary component of any regional response, they are not always sufficient. Beckman distinguishes the relative effectiveness of the Southeast Asia response from the Somali model where shoreside criminal syndicates organize the hijacking of large ships and demand ransoms--activity that is more widely recognized as piracy under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (2) (UNCLOS) and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (3) (SUA). Combating Somali piracy requires reliance on international law consistent with UNCLOS and SUA, among other international treaties, and implementation of domestic law by nations seeking to punish pirates. However, these legal measures are merely a starting point for overcoming the challenges of the Somali model...

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