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The Business of Pirate Protection

  • Anja Shortland
  • Federico Varese

Somali piracy is often described as a form of organized crime, with pirates providing their own security. Such an approach fails to distinguish between different actors within modern piracy and leads to policies focusing on deterring pirate recruits. Drawing on Protection Theory developed for the study of Mafias, a detailed analysis of Bloomberg maps of hijacked vessels' routes, field interviews and Somali press reports, we show that there is instead a clear distinction between protectors of piracy and pirates. Clan elders and their militias facilitate piracy, because they protect hijacked ships in their anchorages and have well-established channels for coordinating actions where business interests cut across clan lines. This explains the relative stability and order within the piracy business, such as the lack of re-hijacking. The paper concludes by arguing that the solution to piracy needs to focus on the enablers rather than the executors of the crime, and should be at the sub-state, clan level.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.408691.de/diw_econsec0075.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Economics of Security Working Paper Series with number 75.

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Length: 27 p.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diweos:diweos75
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  1. Olaf J. de Groot & Matthew D. Rablen & Anja Shortland, 2011. "Gov-aargh-nance - "even criminals need law and order"," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 11-01, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  2. Anja Shortland & Sarah Percy, 2011. "The Business of Piracy in Somalia," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 11-08, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  3. Leeson, Peter T., 2007. "Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 689-710, December.
  4. Tim Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2012. "One Kind of Lawlessness: Estimating the Welfare Cost of Somali Piracy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 898.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  5. Lane, Frederic C., 1958. "Economic Consequences of Organized Violence," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(04), pages 401-417, December.
  6. Alexander, Barbara J, 1997. "The Rational Racketeer: Pasta Protection in Depression Era Chicago," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(1), pages 175-202, April.
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