Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2009

Report of the Conference "Addressing the Resurgence of Sea Piracy: Legal, Political and Security Aspects"

Emiliano Alessandri

June 2009

Istituto Affari Internazionali


The resurgence of sea piracy has made headlines in recent months, becoming the object of intense debate, also among scholars and practitioners.  Attention has concentrated particularly on piracy off the Horn of Africa (especially in the Gulf of Aden), where the phenomenon has reached critical levels. Reports speak of over a hundred attacks in 2008 alone and rising figures in 2009. Some 18 merchant ships are currently detained by Somali pirates together with a growing number of hostages. Ransoms paid in 2008 are estimated to be in the range of over a hundred million US dollars. In view of the growing concern about the phenomenon, the Institute for International Affairs (IAI) of Rome and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL) of Sanremo organized a conference on ‘Addressing the Resurgence of Sea Piracy: Legal, Political and Security Aspects’, under the scientific supervision of Professor Natalino Ronzitti. The conference was held in Rome at the Centro Alti Studi per la Difesa (CASD) on June 16, 2009 and brought together over thirty experts, including: renowned International Law scholars and political analysts; officials from the EU, NATO, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO); government officials from Denmark, Italy, Somalia, and Kenya; as well as representatives of the private sector (shipping industry and insurance companies). The meeting was attended by over 200 people and featured a lively and fruitful debate. The discussion focused in particular on Somali piracy.