Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Bradley Hays




piracy, somali, somalia, pirates, maritime


Since the reign of James I in the sixteenth century, African corsairs have been considered “the common enemy of mankind.”1 In the past two years, the waters off the coast of Somalia have become the maritime piracy capital of the world and have challenged the fundamentals of the international political and economic communities. The increasing frequency and severity of piracy off the Horn of Africa is unrivaled by any period in modern maritime history. In fact, piracy has in the last year become one of the most profitable and booming industries in the failed state of Somalia; employing thousands domestically and internationally. By the end of 2008, 111 pirate attacks were reported off the eastern coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. In that same time, Somali pirates successfully hijacked 42 vessels and had taken 815 crewmembers hostage. In the first quarter of 2009, Somali pirates committed 61 acts of piracy, hijacked nine vessels, and 157 crewmembers were taken hostage. As of March 31, 2009, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) suspected that Somali pirates were holding 10 vessels for ransom and 160 crewmembers as hostages.2 The economic impact of maritime piracy off Somalia is estimated in the tens of millions affecting individuals, multinational corporations, and governments of over twenty nations. The fundamental inefficiencies and inadequacies of the international political community will allow Somali piracy to thrive unless major multilateral policy actions are taken to address this nontraditional global security threat.