Differences and Similarities between Gulf of Guinea and Somalia Maritime Piracy: Lessons Gulf of Guinea Coastal States Should Learn from Somali Piracy

Devotha Edward Mandanda, GUO Ping


Maritime piracy in African waters started to flourish in 21st century when Pirates focus their activities in the two sides of the Continent. Between 2005 and 2012 piracy activities were rampant in the Horn of Africa and the East Africa Coastal waters. Thereafter, piracy activities prospered in West Africa Gulf of Guinea States. To date the same are still persisting in the Gulf of Guinea Coastal States. The impact brought by African piracy to the shipping industry and maritime transportation at large, have touched a range of nations from developed countries to the developing countries. Because of that, the International and Regional communities set up strategies to fight and repress piracy activities within the Continent. Maritime piracy is a crime and was firstly considered as crime by the customary international law even before codification of the same in 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and later the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has not set for the punishment of pirates but it has rest to the individual countries to prosecute and punish piracy offenders according to the laws of a particular country.  In defining what constitutes acts of piracy, the UNCLOS does not consider acts committed within the territorial waters of a State to be piracy, instead, it considers only those acts that are committed on the high seas for the private ends. The International law perception of what constitutes acts of piracy lead the governments of Gulf of Guinea coastal states to be solely responsible for maritime security of their countries as well as eliminating piracy acts happening in their area. Different from piracy off the coast of Somalia, a stateless country, Gulf of Guinea countries have stable governments and thus the principle of sovereignty applies. Despite the differences in nature for the acts of piracy that are happening in the two regions of the African continent, the same are still falling under the same umbrella of criminality of the acts of piracy. So whatever the differences there are still some similarities which basing on the same, the other part of the continent (West Africa) should draw the attention from, and copy the strategies of combating and eliminating acts of piracy in their region.This paper focuses on differences and similarities between Gulf of Guinea piracy and piracy off the coast of Somalia, what lessons Gulf of Guinea Coastal States should learn from Somali piracy for them to effectively combat and eliminate piracy activities within their area.

Keywords: Piracy, Crime, Gulf of Guinea, Somalia.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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