Pirates of the Arabian XI

How the UN can deal with the Somali pirates.

Everybody has sent warships to fight the Somali pirates: the United States, India, Russia, Malaysia and (now under the NATO and/or EU flags – I’m confused) France, Britain, Greece, and Germany, plus Italian planes.

Why has this high-tech armada failed to deal with a handful of low-rent thugs armed with Kalashnikovs and RPGs? The problem isn’t firepower: it’s command and control, and rules of engagement. The warships aren’t even allowed to board suspected pirates.

NATO has finally asked the UN Security Council to clarify this. My suggestions:

1. Set up a single ad hoc naval task force with a proper operational HQ in Mombasa. The commander should be American, his deputies European and Indian. Ideally the UN Military Committee should be activated, but this won’t happen, at least before January 20.

2. Create a security zone in which the task force can stop and search any ship whatever. The pirates store their speedboats on innocent-looking mother ships. There’s no legitimate reason for a cargo ship to carry a speedboat, so any ship that does can be seized as a presumptive pirate and impounded. If the pirates stopped using speedboats and reverted to slower vessels, the targets would have time to call for naval helicopters.

3. Impound all shore-based speedboats in the zone for the duration. Water-skiing playboys in Lamu can stuff it.

3. Set up an ad hoc maritime court to adjudge piracy-related civil and criminal claims as a fallback to national courts. The outcry from the owners of impounded ships would speed this up.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web