The Business of Pirate Protection
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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CEDI Discussion Paper Series
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UFAE and IAE Working Papers
898.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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