The threat of Maritime piracy along the coast of Africa
Material posted: Publication date: 28-04-2020

Despite the success of the international community to ensure peace and security in the world, the problem of Maritime terrorism and piracy remains relevant in the modern world. When it is considered that piracy creates the preconditions for the development of Maritime terrorism.

According to the definition presented in the UN Convention on the law of the sea 1982, under the piracy is "any illegal act of violence, detention or any robbery, committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of any privately owned vessel or a privately owned aircraft" [1]. Currently, the most unstable and dangerous regions in the world against the threat of Maritime piracy are located near the coast of the African continent:

  1. The horn of Africa, particularly Somalia. In the twenty-first it the Somali pirates are the main threat to marine vessels that travel on sea routes passing through the Suez canal into the Mediterranean. Piracy is particularly prevalent after the outbreak of the civil war that continues up to the present. The consequence of internal discord had become serious economic and social crisis that led to the emergence of organized pirate groups. Their members are often young people under the age of 30 are former sailors and fishermen, well-versed in Maritime space, or military and police with the weapon skills. The purpose of the Somali pirates, as a rule, is to capture marine vessels for ransom. The victims of pirates are most often oil tankers.
  2. The Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic ocean near the West African countries: Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, côte d'ivoire, Benin. In the area of pirate attacks occur in territorial waters, where the high level of criminal activity, but also of social protests. For this reason, the conflict situations with the application of international norms in the area of the Gulf of Guinea is almost impossible. Most often the Guinea pirates are well-armed. Their attack on a naval vessel occurs during the dark time of the day. The type of vessel does not matter: under threat are as small fishing vessels and huge container ships.

It is no secret that Maritime piracy has a long history, but in the XXI century it became an organized business, the lesions of which it is reduced, then flare up with renewed vigor. So, in January-February of the current 2020 in the above areas there were 15 piracy attacks on sea vessels. In order to assess the real threat from Maritime piracy, we present data for the previous year.

Only 2019 were recorded 162 cases of attacks by pirates. Thanks to the joint efforts of the world community the figure is significantly lower than in 2018, when 201 was committed the attack. Of them Africa accounts for 69 cases of piracy. The absolute world leader for several years is Nigeria, where for 2019 pirates seized at least 35 vessels [2].

To counter Maritime piracy the international community has developed a set of measures against these types of crimes. Was primarily composed of international instruments reflecting rights and effective measures to protect crews, ships and cargoes in transit through potentially dangerous areas. Fundamental among them are the Geneva Convention on the high seas 1958, United Nations Convention on the law of the sea 1982, international code for the security of ships and port facilities, 2004. In addition, the naval forces of the countries currently patrolling the most dangerous Maritime areas. Active in this field carry out Interpol, Europol, various regional international organizations, PMC. However, despite the fact that their efforts have managed to reduce the number of pirate attacks globally, the question of how to solve the problem of Maritime piracy, remains open.

In conclusion, we note that Maritime piracy is a crime of international nature, which jeopardizes the safety of transcontinental shipping and leads to significant economic losses for many countries. The use of the naval forces of individual States and organisations may reduce the level of piracy and Maritime terrorism in General, however, effective resistance is impossible without an operational joint activities of the international community and application of organizational and legal measures.

Zerizer Catherine


The list of sources

  1. Convention United Nations law of the sea. Mode of access:
  2. ICC IMB Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships – 2019 Annual Report. Reimposta:

Tags: Africa , assessment