From fishing to piracy – Solving piracy in Somalia

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, 

Context: The Civil War of 1980 came to an end with the plans of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the development of maritime that wanted to exploit the fish fund of marine waters in which there was a potential for the development of the economy of this very poor country today. The Somalian Navy protected the coast of Somalia and established order. The civil war has led to an institutional and even more economic collapse of the country that has been going on till today. Unprotected coastal areas, lack of institutions as well as resources for the preservation of the sea territory have turned into a suitable ground for the development of piracy. The piracy lasts for almost four decades and inflicts enormous material damage on the world economy.

Although the UN imposed sanctions on the import of weapons to Somalia, the problem of armed piracy does not end. There are also penalties for pirates that produce poor results. The international community, NATO, the UN, and the European Union give a huge sum of money annually to stop piracy in Somalia without positive results. Mediation attempts exist but do not yield significant results because they are reduced to solving the problem of abducted ships.

On the basis of previous experiences, we will present several solutions with mediation to stop piracy in Somalia. The potential solution presents an external and internal mediation in combination with the elements of the Advocacy that solves the problem systemically rather than on a case-by-case basis.

The Strategy of all stakeholders and its application is the key to the long-term solution to the problem of Somali piracy. Although the starting point of the work someone would say is ambitious, on the other hand, it is optimistic and with the belief that this multiannual problem can be solved to the satisfaction of all parties in the process of mediation. This process is not easy. It requires a lot of effort, work, persistence, faith that it is possible to establish a long-term peace in this part of the world. Knowing the territory where the focus is one of the largest piracy in the world.

Population: According to the latest population census from 1975, Somalia had 3 million inhabitants. At present, the number of inhabitants is unknown. It is interesting that Somalis are organized into family tribes, of which Digil and Rahanwayn are the largest settlers south of the river Jubba and Shebelle. The clans with the greatest reputation are 4 tribes of Darod, Dir, Hawaye and Isaac. The Darod tribe lives in the north of Somalia. Interestingly with the tribe, Isaac lives in the Somaliland territory, which is practically run as an independent area.

Religion: The dominant religion in Somalia is Islam. The Muslims are Sunni. The largest number of Somalis belongs to Shafi Islamic school. Only 1% of the population are Christians. According to the Constitution of 2012, all religions have equal rights. We present the details of religious orientation as it is important in terms of making a successful Mediation Strategy. Let’s highlight the important fact about Shafi Islamic school. Namely, it allows the principle of self-defense.

In practice, this means that followers of this Islamic religious orientation have the right, in the period when they feel threatened for life or existential right, to act contrary to religious beliefs adapting to a difficult situation in order to instinctively self-sustain (Freud). Western civilization among modern philosophical disciplines has eclecticism that means adapting to the given situation. Thus, self-defense from the point of view of the Islamic sect Shafi is a legitimate means of defending the right to self-protection.

Economics: Although Somalia has no effective government and organized institutions a relatively efficient shape of the informal economy based on cattle breeding, money transfer and telecommunications companies have been recorded. One of the informal sources of income is piracy. The most important agricultural branch is cattle breeding, while Somalia has 13 percentage of fertile soil only 2 percent is exploited.

The history of mediation shows modest results in achieving peace in Somalia. The practice has shown that mediation is effective in the case of the purchase of ships, which is currently the solution of individual problems of the piracy. An interesting fact is that Ethiopians had several mediator missions that gave positive results. One of the wisdom questions is why this is so?

The answer is very simple. Ethiopia is territorially very close to Somalia, so culture and customs are well-known. It is important to point out that in situations like the pirate crisis in Somalia, there is considerable knowledge of methods of intercultural communication. Western models of mediation do not produce results because it is adapted to other conditions of cultures and traditions.

Understanding culture, tradition, religion, social and political order of Somalia is crucial for creating a successful mediation model. The complexity of the problem requires solving conflicts at several different levels. We therefore propose models of internal and external mediation.

Internal mediation within the country itself would be with representatives of the authorities, as well as the leaders of the most influential tribes. Knowing the religious customs of Somalia is also of great importance in this part of the mediation.

The next wisdom question is why it is important to take into account the religious orientation in Somalia? It is because culture, tradition, social, political, and legislative arrangements are organized according to religion and religious customs. In the introductory part of the text we stated that the majority of the population belongs to the Islamic school Shafi (Sunni) who organize their everyday life with the faith in Allah and love in his heart. Faith and everyday life are arranged according to Quran.

Understanding and respecting the faith in this case is, in my opinion, crucial for solving the problem of Somali piracy. In the context of religion, piracy in Somalia is the so-called self-help or self-protection that Islam permits. The next wisdom question is why Somali citizens need the self-help we are talking about? It is because the land of the Civil War has been almost 4 decades in the economic and political crisis. Somalia is a poor country that provides survival with an alternative economy we have already written about. I believe that the difficult economic situation and poverty have led to the fact that citizens from the coastal part of Somalia turn fishing boats and ships into pirated ones in order to ensure above all elementary existence.

In the context of Islam, which like any other religions, needs to be understood and respected, there is a principle of self-defense or self-defense. In the event that there is any danger in this case, it is a matter of existential danger, Islam allows this self-help-self-defense which allows an Islamic believer to protect herself from danger.

Internal and external mediation is interconnected: External refers to mediation between Somalia officials and the international community. The fact is that the EU, NATO, as well as the UN are making efforts to establish peace and reduce the piracy in Somalia are activities that are conducted every year but do not produce results. Direct confrontation with pirates and individual rescue of captured ships is not a solution.

Knowing that there is goodwill of the international community to solve the problem the proposal is that interventions are not implemented individually but jointly through the United Nations Security Council.

The strategy provides:Peace in the coastal part of Somalia. To great sadness it is necessary to provide a military area where the abduction of ships is most often happening.

Creating a strategy for the economic and institutional strengthening of Somalia as a country. In case the country economically stabilizes the application of self-help is unnecessary, and therefore the piracy would gradually decrease. Every Islamic believer is aware of his sins and tries to have them as little as possible on Judgment Day. That’s why they say “it does not matter what I am saying is (the same as doing – Michel Foucault) is important what is on my mind” and in their heart is their faith in Allah and the goal of being as good as believers.

During 2009, the BBC reported on the case of a pirate abduction of a ship involving 200 pirates led by Abshir Abdullah. The case raised public attention because the pirates asked the government and the international community to release prison sentences in exchange for the ship. The deal was reached after which Abdullah declared, “I see myself as someone who is saved from doing bad deeds,” said Abdullah. I understand that the things I did were bad and I am aware that they are not in line with Islamic learning.

This case shows how the pirates for the sake of faith wanted to redeem themselves for sins in front of Allah and the law.

In this work, inputs are given to solve the problem of piracy in the long run. Somalia is a small and poor country with the assistance of the international community over needed. Creating a strategy that would systematically solve the problem of piracy is the key to solving the problem. The economic and institutional empowerment of the state teachings would be Shafe good believers who, in good and bad carry Allah, in their hearts and who would not have the need to apply the principle of self-protection.

In addition to the economic strengthening of the country, it is important to drastically tighten the laws for the priory that would greatly contribute to resolving the problem in the long run.


Report, Mediation efforts in Somalia, Menkhaus, Davidson, 2006

Report on the Land of Asylum Seekers The Federal Republic of Somalia, Asylum Protection Center, 2012

Newspaper article about a group of pirates who renounced piracy in exchange for amnesty the text was published in 2009 by the BBC and broadcast daily newspaper Blic in Serbia, a site visited 19/02/2019

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One Response

  1. An Informative article that places my theoretical analysis of International law and piracy in a practical light. My article has been published by WMO on a previous occasion. One issue that required greater emphasis is how punishment is to be determined and the process to be employed in addressing piracy.

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