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The Business of Pirate Protection

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  • Anja Shortland
  • Federico Varese

Abstract

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. - No fulltext available

Suggested Citation

  • Anja Shortland & Federico Varese, 2012. "The Business of Pirate Protection," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 75, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diweos:diweos75
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Timothy Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2012. "One Kind of Lawlessness: Estimating the Welfare Cost of Somali Piracy," Working Papers 626, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Anja Shortland, 2010. "The Business of Piracy in Somalia," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 6(23), pages 182-186.
    4. 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.
    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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    Cited by:

    1. Olaf J. de Groot & Matthew D. Rablen & Anja Shortland, 2012. "Barrgh-gaining with Somali Pirates," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 74, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Singh Currun & Bedi Arjun Singh, 2013. "Regional Dimensions of Somali Piracy and Militant Islamism: Anthropological and Econometric Evidence," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 19(3), pages 369-380, December.

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