Violent pirates continue to plague merchant shipping in regions all over the world. As the crimes become more lethal, how can the seas be made safer?
The international crime of piracy is an ancient one. It has had an impact on maritime commerce for almost as long as the world's seas and oceans have been used for trade. Why does this problem persist today, and how might it be stopped?
The definition of piracy codified under article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) is unfortunately very narrow. Piracy is described as "illegal acts of violence and detention... for private ends ... on the high seas ... outside the jurisdiction of any state." Unfortunately, these laws have had only a marginal impact on the frequent acts of piracy that occur in the territorial waters of states. Over the past ten years, 80% of the world's reported piracy attacks have occurred within territorial waters, harbors, and anchorages of countries rather than on the high seas, leaving the United Nations and other international law institutions powerless to intervene.