Countering Piracy in the Modern Era

Notes from a RAND Workshop to Discuss the Best Approaches for Dealing with Piracy in the 21st Century

by Peter Chalk, Laurence Smallman, Nicholas Burger

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Abstract

In March 2009, the RAND Corporation convened a small group of experts from the U.S. government, allied partner nations, the maritime industry, and academic organizations to reconsider the underlying factors that drive maritime piracy in the 21st century. This conference proceedings highlights the six major themes that animated much of the discussion: (1) the relevance of the current legal framework for countering piracy, (2) the economic burden imposed by piracy, (3) the opportunities for international collaboration that have been afforded by the joint maritime patrols off the Horn of Africa, (4) the question of using private security contractors to protect shipping transiting dangerous waters, (5) the extent to which industry talks with a “single voice” in terms of addressing maritime security, and (6) means of confronting the unique nature of piracy off the Horn of Africa. Perhaps the most important conclusion that can be drawn from the workshop is that mitigating the complex nature of maritime crime requires the input of all relevant stakeholders — state, national, private, and nongovernmental — and must necessarily embrace measures that go well beyond the simple and expedient reactive deployment of naval assets.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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