The State of the Private Ends Debate

Sea Shepherd

It has been both interesting and informative to watch the debate over the meaning of piracy’s “private ends” requirement unfold between Kevin Jon Heller and Eugene Kontorovich at Opinio Juris and The Volokh Conspiracy, respectively. Over a series of successive posts (here, here, here, here, and here), they began to home in on the real … Read more

Putting political convenience aside, pirates are rarely also terrorists

A few months ago, I wrote a post entitled Putting political convenience aside, pirates are simply not terrorists.  The piece argues that calls to treat all pirates as terrorists are totally unfounded, at least from a legal perspective. This is because, under international law, terrorism and piracy are accompanied by explicitly-defined, mutually exclusive motives. Although I … Read more

After a Brief Hiatus, Kenya Once Again Has Universal Jurisdiction Over Pirates

On October 18, the Kenyan Court of Appeal in Nairobi handed down a pivotal decision in In re Mohamud Mohammed Hashi, et al. It held that Kenya has jurisdiction to try piracy suspects whose alleged acts occurred beyond the country’s territorial waters. Due to Kenya’s central role in the emerging global network of piracy prosecutions, the … Read more

On Pirates, PMSCs, and Signature Strikes

The media’s coverage of maritime piracy has changed markedly as of late. In 2010, stories characterized piracy as a ballooning problem with pirates’ changing tactics outpacing those of international navies. The result was a marked increase in attacks and hijackings. Today, however, stories are more likely to focus on diminished profits in the insurance industry, … Read more

Kiobel Oral Argument: Piracy May Spell Trouble for Shell

The Supreme Court opened up its October term with a healthy dose of international law in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell. The petitioner, Esther Kiobel, is bringing suit against Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) alleging that the oil company aided and abetted the Nigerian government in committing gross human rights violations in the oil rich Ogoni … Read more

Putting political convenience aside, pirates are simply not terrorists

While running through my piracy news roundup yesterday morning, I came across this piece by Robert Young Pelton of Somalia Report. In it, Pelton criticizes a report by Australia’s Lowy Institute that deals with the use of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP). I took particular interest in a small tangent within Pelton’s piece that reflects an incorrect sentiment that … Read more

An Interesting Role Reversal in the United Nations

There are several forces that deserve credit for the recently reported worldwide decline in pirate attacks – including international naval patrols, industry best practices, and the monsoon season – but no single force has done more to repel pirates that the use of privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP). With no successful pirate attacks on PCASP-protected vessels … Read more

The Tragedy of Universal Jurisdiction

Picture a medieval town, 110 acres in size and populated entirely by 10 cattle ranchers. Each rancher lives on a 1 acre parcel of land that together surround a 100 acre open space used for grazing cattle. If the 100 acre open space is shared by all 10 ranchers in common, each herder has a … Read more

A Second Avenue to Assert Universal Jurisdiction Over Pirate Negotiators

In my previous post, I argued that the two pirate negotiators prosecuted by the United States – Mohammad Saaili Shibin and Ali Mohamed Ali – must have incited or intentionally facilitated piracy while on the high seas in order to have exposed themselves to prosecution by a court whose only basis for taking the case … Read more

A High Seas Requirement for Pirate Facilitators Under UNCLOS?

The economic conditions in Somalia are such that there is no shortage of men willing to hijack a ship, risking their lives in hopes of earning of the equivalent of 20 years of income – $5,000 in Somalia – out of a single $1.5 million ransom. That basic reality is the driving force of modern … Read more