n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The developing jurisprudence to combat modern maritime piracy : a crime of the high seas?

Volume 43, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Piracy, a crime of antiquity has resurged in recent years in the Gulf of Aden and off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen reaching epidemic proportions and thriving in the socio-economic and political chaos of Somalia. This article will provide an overview of the legal framework embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) applicable to the international community to intervene in combating piracy in this context and it argues that this framework has certain shortcomings and has at its foundation certain concepts which are outdated. This article will then illustrate these shortcomings by briefly examining the trends in recent reported piracy incidents. In attempting to identify the reasons for these shortcomings, this article further explores the development UNCLOS and the jurisprudence of early Admiralty Courts and concludes that the scope and definition of piracy in UNCLOS has been the product of a long history of uncertainty and inconsistency in the doctrines of piracy law. This situation necessitated special contemporary measures such as United Nations Security Council Resolutions to deal with the piracy epidemic. This article accordingly suggests that a review of the ambit and scope of the piracy definition of UNCLOS is necessary to successfully combat piracy.

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