Piracy challenges global governance

About the authors

Daniele Archibugi is a director at the Italian National Research Council (CNR), and professor of innovation, governance and public policy at Birkbeck College.

Marina Chiarugi is  a research assistant at the Italian National Research Council in Rome. An international lawyer, she is currently working on the on the transformation of international criminal justice in the global age.

We may be certain that many Hollywood screenwriters are now taking notes on the rebirth of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Pirates were believed to have become anachronistic in a world in which nations had occupied every corner of the earth and even of the seas along their coasts, to the point of attributing legal value to the oxymoron "territorial waters''. It was believed that satellites and smart missiles would be a sufficient deterrent against large-scale piracy, allowing pirates to carry out only small raids. Satellite-based anti-theft devices allow us to locate our automobile with pinpoint accuracy, let alone an oil tanker. And yet, these are the roaring years of a new piracy which, using old-fashioned means, is successfully defeating the technological society of the 21st century.

What is sensational about the actions of the pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and which distinguishes them from all the others, is that they are able to seize huge vessels and to take and keep their crews hostage, even for extended periods. They are, in other words, not like the pirates swarming along the west coast of Africa and in the seas of Asia, who conduct short, incisive operations and then flee with what little booty they have been able to seize.

The Somali pirates can lay claim to having carried out the largest ship seizure in history, that of the Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star, of having captured a Ukrainian ship carrying a cargo of T-72 tanks, and of having dominated the front pages of the New York Times and the Guardian. They are only relatively anonymous: thanks to new information technology it is quite easy to photograph their assault craft, to know where the seized vessels are being held captive and even to identify individual pirates on the deck. However, these marvels of modern technology have so far failed to solve the problem. According to International Maritime Bureau estimates, in 2008, there were 111 pirate attacks off the Somali coast alone, a good 42 of which culminated in the seizure of the ship. This new and unexpected trend seems to be something out of a movie. Indeed we may be sure that someone is already preparing the casting for a film on this subject.

Casting for Hollywood

Let's take a closer look at the main characters of this new film, which still remains to be made: the media packages received from special reporters have already provided us with more information than we need. First and foremost, we have the captain courageous of the ship attacked, taken hostage after resisting and who is concerned with saving his cargo and, above all, his crew. We have seen the ship's owner, who suddenly loses a precious vessel and who protests vehemently to the minister of the merchant navy of his own country about the lack of security on the high seas. What may we say about the insurance company financier who must compensate his clients for the damage caused by acts of piracy rather than by storms and hurricanes?

And it is this financier who brings another character on stage, the mercenary, who is hired to guarantee the safety of the vessels and, just like the pirates he has to combat, has complete contempt for legality. He, he assures us, would be able defeat the pirates using old-fashioned methods: sinking their boats with one shot fired from a cannon. The mercenary is nostalgic for the days in which pirates were hanged at the dockside without a trial.

However, the most fascinating character is the adventurer whose job it is to negotiate on behalf of the ship owners and insurance companies: he is the one who has to board the seized ships and verify that the crew and the cargo are safe, but above all to pay the ransom. He is the only one of whom we know absolutely nothing as the negotiations must be conducted in absolute secrecy. However, proof of his secret existence comes from the fact that the ransoms are paid and the ships resume their voyage. One may wonder whether the pirates are content to be paid in cash or whether even today they do not demand to be paid in doubloons or gold nuggets. The way the ransom was paid for the release of the Sirius Star  was certainly sensational: as in an adventure film, the cash was dropped on to the ship's deck from a helicopter .

Lastly, the increase in piracy brings other characters into the picture: governments have been led to cast aside their typical maritime rivalries and to collaborate in the protection of the sea routes. In September 2008 a mission sailed under the NATO flag and, in December, the first joint naval mission of the Europe Union left port. Furthermore, it has already been announced that another multinational mission led by the United States is about to sail. Also China has sent several convoys towards the Gulf of Aden, thereby inaugurating the first expedition by its navy outside the Pacific area. These new pirates are actually stimulating quite considerable innovations in navy practice.

However, the time has come to describe the real hero of this singular film - the pirate himself. Some have managed to interview him and to trace out his portrait. This hero is darker-skinned and much younger than Long John Silver, the Treasure Island hero that no adolescent has ever forgotten and, like him, is a likeable fellow. In 1992 he was just a kid when he witnessed the arrival of the US soldiers participating in the "Restore Hope'' peace mission. Sixteen years have passed and the hopes raised by western troops have been dashed. He is almost certainly a young Somali coast fisherman who grew up while his family and his people were being worn out by an endless civil war. He saw fishing boats that had come from afar to catch the fish that was needed to feed his people in the total absence of any Somali navy capable of defending what should have been the zone of exclusive economic exploitation of his country. He saw ships from other countries dumping toxic waste, including nuclear residues, on the coasts where he lives.

On several occasions he himself has been robbed in his wretched little boat. Demonstrating greater business acumen than his peers, he first bought a rifle to defend himself from attack and then suddenly discovered he could do the same thing and so was transformed from fisherman to pirate. Perhaps the striking part of the film could be the transformation from harmless victim to criminal, putting together the tools needed for his new and dishonorable profession: a fibre-glass boat with a powerful outboard engine, a couple of hand grenades salvaged from the ever full civil war arsenals in the Horn of Africa, a few rudimentary electronic gadgets compared with the technology possessed by those who hunt him, and a lot of guts.

The act of piracy

The hijack victims describe the mechanism of the attack and the International Maritime Bureau reports the salient features of each episode. Generally speaking, a swarm of boats approaches the ship to be hijacked, fires a few rounds from a rocket launcher into the air for the purpose of intimidation and lastly boards the ship using wooden ladders. Once on board, the first thing the pirates do is to try and reassure the crew by gestures rather than by the few words they are able to proffer in a foreign language: they want their money and certainly not their life. The pirates take no more than a quarter of an hour to seize a ship. However, the action is risky and uncertain: only one attack out of three succeeds. Sometimes the vessels manage to escape, or to prevent the pirates from boarding them. One particularly combative Chinese crew succeeded in beating off their attackers by throwing tomatoes and bottles of beer at them.

However, the most significant fact so far is that only two crew members of attacked ships have reportedly been killed, while several pirates have been killed. No pirate deserves to be considered a gentleman, although those of the Gulf of Aden may not deserve to be called murderers.

The closing scene of this déjà-vu film could be set along the Somali coast, with the pirates distributing their ill-gotten gains among their people, stimulating commerce, providing new jobs and indeed becoming the only successful role model for children. Indeed, along the coast they are greeted as heroes for having brought back to this desolate corner of the earth some semblance of an economy that, however criminal it may be, is preferable to perennial famine. It is therefore not surprising that they are in no way perceived as criminals, but simply as replacement customs officials who exact tolls on behalf of a state which disintegrated a long time ago.

However, the pirates are not always in a position to celebrate. When they reach the shore, they often have to come to terms with other armed groups claiming their share of the booty. On other occasions they suffer the reprisals of the ship owners. And above all they have to cope with the elements of nature. A motor boat with eight of the pirates who participated in the seizure of the Sirius Star capsized for reasons still to be ascertained. Three of those on board succeeded in swimming to the shore, three were found drowned in the sea, one is still missing, while the last one was found dead on the beach with an envelope containing 153,000 dollars in his pocket.

But this is not a film; it is an episode of a real narrative. At this very moment more than one dozen ships are held prisoner in the Gulf of Aden and hundreds of hostages, and their families, live in fear for their lives. Ships are released after payment of a ransom and others are seized. The last cargo ship hijacked has an US flag and twenty-one US crewmen taken hostages. Like the Ukrainian ship, it is also probably transporting military equipment and it will also be very interesting to see if the United States will be prepared to pay a ransom.

It is the first time that a pirate attack involves a US ship and US nationals, and the whole world is waiting anxiously for the response of the Obama administration towards this difficult foreign policy challenge. The new year may well be much the same as the old one: on New Year's Eve a cargo vessel was seized with twenty-eight crew members on board, who have now swelled the ranks of those held hostage.

The acts of piracy that take place in other parts of the world, although numerous, have completely different characteristics. They are limited to brief raids on board ships to grab as much as possible before immediately returning to terra firma to hide. The rebirth of this form of piracy based instead on seizing the vessel can be explained in terms of three factors: the failure of the Somali state, the difficulty of coming up with an effective response, and the structural weakness of merchant vessels. Let us examine them.

The first and most oft-cited factor is the Somali state's incapacity to exercise the so-called "monopoly of force", on land and even less at sea. As we learned from the history of piracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, buccaneers need a land base where they can equip and resupply themselves; a lawless state in the grip of poverty and strife serves this purpose well.

The second consists of the difficulty encountered by the navies of other countries to attack and repress the pirates in their hinterland. Although Somalia is a state on the brink of collapse, it nevertheless remains a sovereign state and no naval vessel flying a different flag can venture into its territory or territorial waters without its permission. Today it is not clear who to apply to to get this permission. A no-man's-land, or rather a `no-man's-sea', is thus created which has been exploited by the pirates to "park'' the vessels they seize and to start negotiating the ransom.

The third point is related to the vulnerability of merchant shipping. Cargo ships can be lightly armed, but only with the authorization of the country where they are registered. Moreover, the weapons cannot be left in the hands of the crew as they would not know how to use them. The ship owners would have to rely on mercenaries and shoulder the relative costs. To enable merchant vessels to provide for their own defence would, in other words, entail huge costs and logistical problems.

The fight between merchant vessels and pirates is therefore one-sided as only the latter are armed. It is not surprising therefore that rather than foot the bill, many ship owners prefer to steer clear of the Gulf of Aden and to circumnavigate the whole of Africa. One ship owner told us that after doing the necessary sums he discovered it was more economical to pay the ransom than to hire mercenaries. The possible organization of a private system of collective self-defence has so far produced discouraging results. Indeed, in many cases the mercenary companies have trained guards who then turned into pirates: just as at the beginning of the 17th century, the corsairs who lost their jobs became the best pirates. And vice versa.

The fragility of global governance
Among openDemocracy's other articles about Somalia:

Harun Hassan, "Somalia: the way forward" (13 February 2007 )

Harun Hassan, "Somalia: Mogadishu's ghost days" (5 April 2007)

Edward Denison, "The Horn of Africa: a bitter anniversary" (12 April 2007)

Tom Porteous, "Somalia: a failing counter-terrorism strategy" (13 May 2007)

Anna Husarska, "Water problems in Somalia: a photo-essay" (9 October 2007

Georg-Sebastian Holzer, "Somalia: piracy and politics" (24 November 2008)

It is certainly peculiar that a few poorly armed pirates are enough to breach the system of global governance of commercial navigation. The Gulf of Aden is a maritime space almost as large as the Tyrrhenian Sea and the protection of merchant vessels is certainly not a simple river policing operation. However, the international community, an ambiguous term used to refer to governments and intergovernmental organizations, was caught unprepared at both the operational and juridical levels.

Operationally speaking, most countries have preferred prevention to the cure: for many months, various navies have dispatched war-ships to the spot for the purpose of escorting the merchant vessels flying their flag or in which they have a particular interest. So far, the system of defence has been more individual than collective. Today the Gulf is much more crowded with naval vessels, which has had positive repercussions also as far as collective security is concerned; in numerous cases, the attacks of pirates were foiled by the arrival of naval vessels flying a different flag from that of the merchant vessels.

Only the persistence of the attacks has led to the development of a collective security system. NATO has been given the task, with the Allied Provider Mission (12 October - 15 December 2008) of escorting convoys transporting the humanitarian aid of the World Food Programme towards Somalia itself. Once in the Gulf, the ships of the Mission also protected merchant vessels, keeping the raiders at bay.

NATO then handed the job over to Operation Atalanta (EU-NAVFOR Somalia), the first joint maritime mission by the European Union. It actually seems that the pirates have contributed to triggering this European military collaboration which might otherwise have had difficulty getting off the ground.

Naval vessels therefore have a deterrent and preventive effect; the pirates often flee at the sight of them and even more so when helicopters take off from the cruisers. However, it does not seem that these unilateral or multilateral actions fully recognise their mandate from the legal standpoint. Maritime law allows a naval vessel to stop and inspect the papers of any merchant vessel encountered on the open seas, but certainly not to sink it without warning. The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea also specifies that a naval vessel from any country can arrest persons suspected of piracy and deliver them for trial to the legal system of their own country. The crime of piracy is actually one of the few offences, indeed the first, for which a universal jurisdiction was invoked. And yet, in only a few cases have the pirates, even when caught red-handed, ended up in court.

A good example is that of the operation conducted by the Danish navy on 17 September 2008, which captured and detained on board their vessel a group of ten suspected pirates. In the end it simply accompanied them on shore. The problem lies not only in the opacity of the Danish language. When we asked the officers of the Italian navy in command of the NATO mission, "If you come across pirates at sea, what will you do?'', the answers given were uncertain.

Only France has decided to combat piracy directly. In this it has displayed a quite unusual vitality that has led it even to request the Security Council to extend the provisions regarding the repression of piracy in Somalia to take in also the West African coasts. The first episode, the seizing of the yacht Le Ponant in April 2008, was initially characterized by negotiations for the release of the thirty hostages (twenty-two of whom French nationals) and subsequently the capture of six pirates which actually took place in Somali territory without the explicit permission but the tacit acceptance of a government of such uncertain status as that of Puntland. The incident then took on a spectacular turn, with a live broadcast of the pirates being captured by heliborne French commandos and the freed hostages being personally welcomed by President Sarkozy. The second raid, in September 2008, to free the Delanne couple, was actually announced by President Sarkozy, renamed "national Indiana Jones'' for the occasion, in a press conference. The two actions each led to the arrest of six pirates (and the death of one of their number), who are now awaiting trial before a French court.

The United Kingdom which, during its history, more than any other country is known to have both favoured and repressed piracy, has perhaps found the most satisfactory way of treating the arrested pirates - washing its hands of the matter. It has actually negotiated a treaty with Kenya whereby those suspected of piracy are handed over to that country. Kenya's legal system is without doubt less sophisticated than that practised in the Old Bailey and its prisons are less comfortable that those of Her British Majesty's. In other words, it is a stronger deterrent. After a few months, the United States and the European Union followed the example of the United Kingdom, negotiating with Kenya very similar agreements. During the first days of March, sixteen pirates have been delivered to Kenyan authorities. At this stage, it seems very likely that the pirates kept by France will also be transferred for being judged on African territory.

The Security Council in the limelight

The laws to combat piracy on the high seas exist, but the states that would be entitled to apply them have either forgotten them or are reluctant to use them. It would certainly be easier to eradicate piracy along the coast but who is able to exert control over the territory? The state of Somalia has no chance of intervening as it is in the grip of a twenty-year-long civil war. The other states face serious problems in having to act without encroaching upon Somali sovereignty.

It is on these two aspects that the Security Council has acted, also under pressure from the business community. It has consequently displayed unprecedented vigour, approving numerous resolutions on Somalia in 2008 alone, the last one, no. 1851, on 16 December 2008, even going so far as to allow the states involved to engage in the hot pursuit of the pirates in Somali territory, although subject to the permission of the Somali Transitional Federal Government. The aim was to invite all the states operating in the area to follow the example of the French armed forces, thereby granting ex post approval of an action of somewhat dubious legality.

During the Security Council debate, numerous states eagerly pointed to the robust legislation existing on the matter: consuetudinary law, the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, the 1988 Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, which, although initially intended to provide an additional instrument for combating terrorism, can also be applied to the crime of piracy. As well as allowing a strong capacity for action, the Convention prescribes that the states should adopt the necessary measures to prosecute the individuals captured. Lastly, resolutions 1846 and 1851 extend the powers of the states and exhort them to act with greater determination and above all greater coordination.

Searching for jails

From the legal standpoint , the lack of coordination during the first phase of the fight against piracy made it materially impossible to bring the pirates before a court of justice. The uncertainty over the procedures to adopt in such circumstances led to the surreal episode involving the Danish navy. On the other hand, a definition of the mechanism to follow in the case of capture that was shared by the states operating in the area would also allow any problems of internal law similar to that of the Danish case to be overcome. Bilateral agreements such as those between Kenya and the United Kingdom are a mere palliative, a useful step but not one that eliminates the need for an integrated approach. If the first bilateral agreement between Kenya and United Kingdom was a rather modest palliative, the European and the American initiatives have certainly shown the willingness to lead the operations following a a more incisive and structured approach.

Nevertheless, can it be deemed opportune and dignified that the great democracies of the planet take advantage of the dissuasive capacity of the Kenyan prisons as an instrument for the fight against piracy? Is it acceptable to delegate the administration of justice to the institutions of a country that several reports of the most important international organizations have defined as extremely lacking in providing basic guarantees to the inmates?

The Kenyan prison system is in disastrous conditions. The penitentiary structures contain a number of inmates that is at least three times higher than the maximum allowed and inside there torture episodes and arbitrary executions by the penitentiary police are frequent. The judicial system has been harshly criticized by the majority of the external observers. First, the 1963 Constitution does not determine a system able to guarantee a separation of powers that goes beyond a mere formal declaration, assigning to the President very strong check powers over the judges operations. At the same time, the widespread corruption of public authorities doesnt help to guarantee the rule of law. The impressive congestion of prisons involves so strong delays in the call of trials to make it possible that an inmate could spend more than ten years in jail without being taken in front of a judge. Third, there are very limited guarantees regarding legal aid, with the obvious consequence that the defence into trials becomes an optional for the few people with the necessary resources. Fourth, Kenya is a country that maintains death penalty, even if it has applied a moratorium on executions. Finally, subtle perplexities comes also from the managements modalities of the crisis due to the riots successive to the 2007 elections, when thousands of people have been deliberately killed by the police. Following the missed institution of a Special Tribunal to judge the massacres responsibles, many external observers invoked the intervention of the International Criminal Court. Obviously, the ICC intervention is admissible only when the territorial state is unable or unwilling to administer justice. We are facing an evident paradox: states entitled to exert jurisdiction have decided to delegate it to a state that just in these days is showing its incapability to assure the course of a fair trial regarding acts of exceptional seriousness like crimes against humanity.

States bound to the most sophisticated instruments on human rights protection are now willing to send Somali citizens in their custody to a country that almost certainly will violate their most essential prerogatives. The case of the European Union, that has always been very careful as far as the protection of human rights is concerned and that, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, is preparing to become a member of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, is highly emblematic. In conjunction with the adoption of the treaty for trying the pirates, the Union promoted another agreement relating their treatment after the transfer in which all the main instruments on human rights protection are recalled. The conclusion of such agreements will certainly improve the capacity to avoid that the prisoners must wait for years before the start of the trials, it will assure more guarantees related to legal aid and maybe it will reduce also the probability of being subject to inhuman or degradating treatments, creating a sort of first class inmates, but obviously it cant change the conditions of Kenyan prisons. The Mombasa jail, where very probably the pirates will be imprisoned, contains more than 3,500 prisoners, most of them sleep on the floor of very humid and sweltering rooms, among rats and cockroaches, with salty drinking water and widespread malaria. As many NGOs have observed, agreements on prisoners treatment limit a risk that remains very considerable and they do not exclude a violation of the so-called principle of non-refoulment by states patrolling the gulf, that is the imperative norm that forbids to hand over individuals under their custody to states that could violate their fundamental rights.

The last element that deserves to be taken into account concerns the rules of the Convention on the Law of the Sea related to jurisdiction over pirates. Article 105 provides for the power of the flag state to try pirates on its own territory. From the drafting history we can assume that the aim of the norm was to preclude the possibility of a transfer to a third state. Therefore, the legitimacy of such an attitude isnt completely undoubted, even if states practice seems to be univocally oriented in this direction. During these days China as well is starting negotiations with Kenya. Unfortunately for the potential prisoners, in this case we can exclude any concern about the different treatment received in Africa rather than in the country entitled to exert justice.

However, the initial judicial deadlock and its disappointing solution, although it may and should arouse serious concern about the international community's capacity to act, is certainly not the main obstacle standing in the way of eliminating piracy in Somalia. Whenever the Security Council has had to debate the issue, a chorus of voices has arisen to point out how the roots of the Somali problem lie in the absolute insecurity of the territory due to the absence of any effective state authority and the distressing poverty of the population.

What can be done about piracy?

These states have finally made up their minds to shoulder responsibility for maritime security in the zone: this is an example of tardy global governance acting not only at the administrative level but also at the military level. The Gulf of Aden is beginning to be crowded with naval ships, often with the task of escorting the merchant shipping flying their same flag, although of course they are not loath to dissuade pirates from attacking other shipping. On 9 January 2009 the United States announced they would be taking command of the umpteenth international force in the area, the Combined Task Force 151 , with a naval contribution from another twenty countries and specifically designed to combat piracy.

The commitment of the international community is proving to be particularly massive and this is not surprising. The pressure from the business community has been reinforced by the concern that if piracy takes root it may ultimately become associated with terrorist groups or lead to more or less deliberately caused environmental disasters. The increased risks of transit through this area and the consequent increase in the insurance premiums paid by shipping threaten to make the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope a less costly option. We would thus see a substantial increase in the price of goods that currently pass through Suez, mainly oil and manufactured products from Asia. This would be a cost that, in view of the current international economic crisis, it would certainly be preferable to avoid.

One further element of concern lies in the risk that the ill-gotten gains of the pirates might be used to fund extremist groups potentially linked to international terrorism such as the Al-Shabab movement, the more intransigent wing of the Islamic militia occupying the South of the country. In fact, there is so far no evidence that the much feared links between Somali pirates and terrorist groups actually exist. There is actually a radical difference between the motives of these two groups of individuals. A reduction in the phenomenon actually occurred in the first half of the year 2006 when the Islamic troops succeeded in exerting a more stable control over the territory. However, once the vulnerability of merchant shipping becomes clearly apparent, there is no reason why it should not be targeted in future. The only apparently proved connection between pirates and the embryos of state apparatus present in Somalia, has been subject of the last report by the General Secretariat to the Security Council - concerns the Puntland territory, situated on the extremity of the Horn of Africa and completely extraneous to any Islamic influence.

There are clear signals that the various navies are no longer willing to use the kid gloves international law when dealing with pirates. The Indian and British navies have already fired shots in anger. The Indian navy's shots have probably caused the killing not only of the pirates but also of the 16 sailors kidnapped. The NATO mission and that of the EU shows that there is a will to act together. In Kenya and in other countries the prison doors are being opened. The pirates have been warned - in future it will be much harder to get off scot free.

However, the growing strength of the military response is in dramatic contrast with the catastrophic conditions in which the Somali population lives. They total nearly ten million people, with a life expectancy of less than fifty years living in a country where the average age is seventeen. The country lacks the most elementary health and welfare structures, where famine and perennial drought condemn them to live on less than two dollars a day and where the twenty-year-old civil war between the northern warlords and the Islamic militias of the South means it is impossible to live without fear.

At this point it is impossible to dodge the question of whether the best and most effective way to restore security along one of the most important sea lanes in the world consists of deterrence and repression. A huge imbalance actually exists between the amount of money that the Somali pirates have successfully extorted in the form of ransoms (estimated at no more than 60 million dollars in 2008) and the damage they have caused, calculated as being of several billion dollars. So far no one has taken the trouble to estimate the cost of the protection provided by the various navies, perhaps because this is shouldered by the taxpayer. It has been suggested the creation of an operative co-ordination among the regional states, on the example of the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA) that operates in the gulf of Guinea, to which delegate the burdens relates to the patrols. Its about a little reassuring expedient, aimed to save resources leaning the repressions expences against countries that, although advantaged under the geographical point of view, are all in a condition of extreme poverty.

If the states had invested the time and resources they now devote to combating piracy in reconstructing the Somali society and economy, they would probably not now have to cope with these problems. But today there are new opportunities that should not be wasted. The Djibouti accords, signed in June 2008, providing for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops, are raising some faint hopes of possible cooperation between the Federal Government and the more moderate fringes of the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia, a first step towards the making of a legitimate and effective central government. On the 31st of January 2009 Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the moderated Muslims leader, has been elected chief of the Transitional Federal Government, defeating the candidate supported by the international community and spreading all over the country a climate of renewed optimism. As we said before, in twenty years the only period of relative stability of the area has been observed during the phase in which the Islamic factions controlled the most of the territory. In his report to the Security Council, Ban Ki-Moon reaffirmed that peace and stability are a fundamental pre-condition for the solution of the piracys problem, in order to make possible that who today is finding himself in the bandits shoes, could come back to play the usual role of the fisherman.

In all likelihood, the financial resources the states intend to devote to protecting their own commercial interests will achieve better results if they are used in support of this difficult moment of transition. Above all if they are used to bring some relief to this people afflicted by perhaps one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises of all time, rather than being invested in the announced operations of deterrence and policing. The international community should have learnt that it is virtually impossible to come up with an effective deterrent against those who, in spite of themselves, have no longer anything to lose.