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Addressing the root cause of piracy
  Written By: Gulf News
  Article Date:
December 15, 2008


The world is finally advancing on several fronts to find a coordinated way to defeat the pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. Many of the proposals are useful and important, and the multi-lateral style of planning is essential for their long term success. But all these efforts do not address the underlying cause of Somali piracy, which is the complete collapse of the Somali government. No anti-piracy plan will succeed unless there is a parallel effort to restore the Somali government to normal working levels.

Late last week, the US proposed to the United Nations that armed forces fighting pirates off Somalia should have the right to follow and engage them on land, and it has put this idea into a draft UN Security Council resolution that it is preparing for a debate on Tuesday next week.

Also last week, a United Nations conference in Nairobi prepared an international strategy on how to handle the pirates. The conference asked Somalia's neighbouring countries to help in arresting, trans-ferring and prosecuting pirates. This is important since Somalia is incapable of doing it on its own. Last week also saw the European Union launch its first-ever naval mission which joined the US-led coalition in the Arabian Sea, helping to protect merchant shipping.

The United Nations should also look at how to rebuild the nation of Somalia. Somalia's neighbours, its fellow Arab states, and the world's larger and more generous powers, all need to combine to offer a long-term plan on how they can rebuild the authority of the government, defeat the warlords in charge of various separate areas in the country, and offer the people some hope, and an alternative to piracy.