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Whether a surge in an illicit domestic industry represents a turn in the international power structure that is engendered by globalization is a formidable question. one issue that may arise in an international conflict is the ideological polarization between developed and underdeveloped nations that stems from the desire for basic needs satisfaction. As nations either develop, or remain developmentally stagnant, those who reside within them have interests tied to-among other things--fulfilling their particular basic needs such as food and shelter. In nations in which people are better able to satisfy their basic needs, individuals may identify secondary interests, such as industry and trade, the pursuance of which may conflict with the enduring concerns of those in lesser developed nations whose goal remains limited to receiving what they need to survive.
This clash between those satisfying their society's secondary interests and those simply trying to survive by fulfilling their basic needs can polarize an international community whose members pursue self-serving ends through almost any means. Developmentally challenged nations that find themselves in this situation run the risk of falling prey to their more self-sufficient and accomplished international neighbors. For the sake of self-preservation, citizens in the weaker nation will sometimes act out of desperation, resorting to illegal activities to obtain basic necessities while disregarding the international response to their actions.
Domestic degradation is not always the result of mere internal political or economic strife, nor social dissatisfaction. Maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia is evidence that a combination of domestic factors coupled with the negligence of the international community can actually exacerbate domestic incapability to the extent that it becomes an international criminal incident with serious global significance.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines piracy as "any illegal acts of violence or detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship," and is limited to the high seas and places "outside the jurisdiction of any State." (1) Because piracy is considered to be a violation of the law of nations, any nation's public vessel has the authority to seize a pirate ship and try those responsible for the crime. (2) This thriving but illegal industry implicates both domestic and international efforts at national building. The rise of piracy exhibits the importance of the international effort to assist in nation building and therefore to help create domestic stability, so as to avoid such industries taking hold in underdeveloped regions. Maritime piracy represents a real danger that nations face through increasing globalization. The purpose of this Note is to discuss how piracy can be a reflective microcosm of the exploitation of an unfair global power dynamic that helps encourage criminal behavior through a failure to self-regulate from a legal perspective. over the last decade, the number of maritime piracy attacks has increased steadily, and more recently, that number has skyrocketed. (3) During 2008, a worldwide total of 293 reported incidents of piracy occurred against ships, an increase of eleven percent from 2007. (4) In 2009, 406 incidents were reported, marking the third successive year this number has increased and the largest percent increase on record. (5) incidents of piracy include attacks, robberies, and hijacks on vessels that are either out at sea or in port. (6) Prior to 1992, statistics that suggested trends in attack frequency were difficult to accumulate because no standard method for incident reporting was in place. (7) But, in 1992, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), one of the international Chamber of Commerce's Commercial Crime Services, established the Piracy Reporting Centre, which enabled shipmasters to report actual or attempted attacks against vessels. (8) The development of this system helped to raise awareness of areas that were particularly risky to the shipping industry. (9) Recently, a glance at the IMB's live piracy map displays a very clear area of exceptionally high risk to the industry. (10)
The region on the eastern coast of Africa, home to Somalia, is known as the Horn of Africa. Somalia runs east along the Gulf of Aden, where four percent of the world's oil is moved each day, and then southward along the coast, jutting out into the Indian Ocean in a domestic region known as Puntland. Finally, its border falls south past the war-torn lands surrounding the latent capital Mogadishu. (11) Somalia is a country known for both its bitter internal struggle between moderates and extremists and its lack of external validity. Somalia's failure on the international stage results from the country's inability to maintain neither an operative central government since 1991, nor a central bank, meaning there is no functioning economy. (12) Inflation is impossible to calculate because businesses print money, and there are vast disparities in regional economies. (13) According to recent estimates, the life expectancy rate for Somalis is under fifty years, and the gross domestic product per capita sits around US$600. (14)
Statistics such as these are important for understanding the motivations of those committing the attacks identified by the IMB. In working to recognize the consequences of piracy and the industry's influence on both the domestic and global economies, it is necessary to first examine the political and economic status of the country contributing to piracy. As with most international or domestic developments, a proper understanding of the potential catalysts of a particular situation allows one to understand the logical implications that may result. In other words, a meta-analysis of recent events that prove this trend in maritime piracy may create a method for forecasting future events and for determining options that may potentially curb this growing, illicit industry.
Part One of this Note will examine the contemporary trends in maritime piracy. Part Two will discuss an analysis of the political and economic factors that may contribute to these trends. Part Three moves further into a conversation about the motivations for piracy based on international pressure, an unbalanced power structure, and unaccommodating maritime law. Part Four finishes with a look into the global implications and foreseeable difficulties the world may be facing, largely as a result of international irresponsibility.
I. CONTEMPORARY TRENDS IN MARITIME PIRACY
As previously noted, 2009 marked the contemporary pinnacle in maritime piracy. The figures for 2009 are higher than all other figures for hijacked vessels since the inception of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. (15) Of the 406 reported incidents of piracy against ships, 153 vessels were boarded, forty-nine were hijacked, and 120 were fired upon, compared to only forty-six fired upon in 2008. (16) The significance of this increase is that it suggests pirates have greater access to weapons, enabling more violent attacks.
The considerable growth in the attacks reported by the IMB is attributable to the Gulf of Aden region, where in 2009, 217 attacks were reported either within the Gulf or off the coast of Somalia, compared to 111 in 2008. (17) In 2008, Nigeria ranked second, with forty attacks reported, and the IMB estimates that there are approximately one hundred more unconfirmed incidents that have occurred in the area, where under-reporting remains a major concern. (18) This trend continued in Nigeria during 2009, with twenty-eight confirmed attacks and another thirty estimated unreported. (19) These drastic increases around Africa have come at a time when other areas already known for incidents of piracy have experienced significant declines. (20) For …