Securitizing Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia
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Issue 3:1

Bilyana Tsvetkova

Securitizing Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia

Piracy off the coast of the failed state of Somalia has been growing at an alarming rate. Last year (2008), over 120 attacks have been reported, resulting in the seizure of more than 40 ships and the kidnapping of more than 600 crew members, and about $30 million (USD) in ransom has been paid. Somali piracy disrupts international trade, funds the vicious war in Somalia, provides breeding ground for terrorists, a convenient route for illicit economies, and can lead to serious environmental damage.4 Regardless of the fact that most of these threats have been present for several years, international coordinated response to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia has emerged only in the last several months. This research analyses the reasons presented as justification for the current international response by using the framework of traditional security theory and securitization theory. The main argument of this research is that Somali piracy has recently gained the status of an international security issue primarily due to its direct effects on the oil supplies to Western states, and not due to any of the alternative reasons.


To prove this argument, this research commences by outlining the conceptual framework of the traditional security theory and the Copenhagen securitization theory, and continues by describing the modernized version of piracy that has emerged since the 1990s. After demonstrating that piracy has become a major security concern for the failed Somali state and the region, the paper explains two potential paths through which the issue of piracy along the Somali coast can be considered as an international security threat. First, it can be securitized by the potential dangers that the Somali failed state can present as a breeding ground for terrorism.

2020 - Volume 14 Issue 2