Roger Middleton: If we want to stop the Somali pirates, we must look to the shore

Share
Related Topics

International navies are patrolling Somali waters looking for pirates. This action, while welcome, is only addressing the symptoms of Somalia’s collapse. It is not a solution to piracy and nor will it resolve Somalia’s instability. If we want to secure the sea and contribute to peace in Somalia we need imaginative approaches. What Somalia needs more than a naval force is an international coastguard. Sending navies to fight piracy in Somalia is a way of being seen to take the “right” kind of action but with minimal risk to life or equipment.

However, it does not alter the fundamental factors driving people into piracy; the ability to make thousands of dollars per operation, in a country with a GDP per head of $600 is far greater than the disincentive of arrest.

Piracy cannot be defeated by navies. That can only happen when law is established and alternatives are presented to the pirates. Navies can certainly help to contain piracy and do perform an indispensable role protecting the delivery of food aid, but they cannot end this problem from the sea. A coastguard, however, is better designed for what is a law and order issue, and as part of a comprehensive approach to Somalia’s instability offers a real prospect for progress.

Why are so many nations then sending their ships and sailors to the eastern Indian Ocean? Some say they are attempting to protect fishing fleets trawling for tuna – pirates have often used illegal fishing as an excuse – but they are drawn by the money and not a desire to protect coastal fishermen.

Somalia’s problems are greater than piracy. It is chronically unstable and dangerous and millions of its citizens need humanitarian aid. The naval presence off Somalia’s coast is a good thing for sailors and shipping companies; it makes them less likely to be attacked and means that someone will be on hand during any period in captivity. The fundamental causes of piracy are not being addressed however: there must be a political settlement on land. A coastguard that combats piracy and protects Somali fishing could be the waterborne element of a wider diplomatic strategy to bring peace and stability to Somalia.

Roger Middleton was speaking last night at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, where he is consultant researcher for the Africa programme

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Iraqi soldiers trained by the US were routed by IS’s smaller force  

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

Patrick Cockburn
Christmas Day cinema-goers seem to have mistaken the complexities of the right to free speech  

There's a time to speak and a time to keep quiet

Paul Vallely
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015