International laws may be part of maritime piracy problem

March 23, 2011

International piracy costs the shipping industry billions of dollars a year and leads to high-profile murders that make global headlines. Longstanding concerns over piracy have led to numerous international laws and conventions designed to keep pirates in check – but research from North Carolina State University shows that the tangled network of laws may actually be helping pirates escape justice.

"We wanted to know why the international community is not working together and taking advantage of existing laws to address , even as piracy is on the rise in places like the horn of Africa," says Dr. Mark Nance, assistant professor of political science at NC State and co-author of a paper on the issue.

The researchers found that the existing framework of international laws creates uncertainty in how countries will respond to piracy, depending on which international convention a nation chooses to apply. "For example," Nance says, "a nation that captures pirates may choose to let them go, bring them home for prosecution in national courts, or take them to a third country for prosecution." This uncertainty leaves different countries with different expectations as to how they could – or should – cooperate to address piracy.

"We found that the lack of international coordination exists because there are so many international laws that apply, not because there are none," says Dr. Michael Struett, assistant professor of political science at NC State and a co-author of the paper. "If the international community really wants to crack down on piracy, countries need to give a governing body – such as the International Maritime Organization or the United Nations – the responsibility to build international consensus around the best approach to combating piracy."

Explore further: U.S. seeks WTO crackdown on China piracy

More information: The paper, "Maritime Piracy and Regime Complexes: Explaining Low Levels of Coordination," was presented March 16 at the International Studies Association annual meeting in Montreal.

Related Stories

An-arrgh-chy! What Blackbeard can teach us about politics

February 21, 2008

Pirates, like gangsters, highwayman, and other colorful outlaws, have always carried a certain romantic appeal with them upon the high seas. Thanks to a certain movie trilogy, they are the most appealing of the outlaws at ...

Anti-piracy pup sniffs out 35,000 illegal DVDs

June 3, 2009

A DVD-sniffing anti-piracy dog named Paddy has uncovered a huge cache of 35,000 discs in Malaysian warehouses, many destined for export to Singapore, industry officials said on Wednesday.

France launches warnings to web pirates

October 4, 2010

French Internet providers have begun sending email warnings to users caught illegally dowloading films and music under a new anti-piracy law, authorities said on Monday.

Price 'drives global media piracy'

March 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Fines and tougher laws are likely to have little impact on the worldwide growth in piracy of movies, music, books and software, copyright experts have warned.

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.