Friday, 17 April 2009

Pirates and international law


Piracy is the oldest international crime. It had been little more than a footnote for international scholars until a few weeks ago. Now there are proposals to set up some kind of international justice mechanisms, possibly in Kenya. There is a pretty thorough discussion of some of the issues in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0415/p06s07-wogn.html .
In a sense, piracy is of the same genus as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Yet it is profoundly different too. It is really much more like an 'ordinary crime' that requires internationalisation essentially so that jurisdictional issues can be resolved. Children dress up as pirates for Halloween. They generally don't dress up as génocidaires (although I seem to recall one of the English princes thinking it was a joke to disguise himself as a Nazi).

2 comments:

小云 said...

One of the underlying causes of piracy has to do with the illegal dumping of toxic waste and illegal overfishing along the coast of Somalia. These activities (which governments have profited and are still profiting from) have pushed many Somalis to look for other avenues of survival - piracy.

I have no doubt that the underlying causes/factors of piracy (specifically in the case of Somalia) are more complex, but first there needs to be a deeper understanding of why piracy even exists before a response is to be decided on by the US.

Christina Ottis said...

I came across your blog as I was searching for Human Rights programs on Google. If you don't mind helping me out, I'm trying to find a Human Rights PhD program that I can start with only a bachelors degree. I have a few friends that have done this in the psychology field. Do you know if this is available for a Human Rights Degree anywhere? Thanks! I look forward to reading your blog.