April 14, 2009

HARRISONBURG—In an invited contribution to a forum on security issues related to piracy in the Horn of Africa sponsored by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. J. Peter Pham, director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, outlines the broad elements for a response to the challenge of Somali piracy.

The paper, written before last week’s attempted hijacking of the Norfolk, Virginia-based cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama, argues:

[T]he problem of Somali lawlessness at sea will only be definitively resolved when the international community summons up the political will to adequately address the underlying pathology of Somali statelessness onshore…[A]n adequate response to the challenged posed by Somali piracy will necessarily entail the embrace a variety of political, legal, diplomatic, and military instruments by a broad coalition of international actors. While the operational focus of this strategy will be on the oceans, it ultimate objective must be onshore, addressing the realities that have allowed piracy to flourish along Somalia’s long coastline.

Other papers in the weeklong series include on overview of the problem by Dr. André LeSage, chair for terrorism and counterterrorism at the Africa Center; a report on a roundtable moderated by the Africa Center’s director, Ambassador William M. Bellamy; and a report by the Kenya Ports Authority on port security in Africa.

Housed at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., the Africa Center for Strategic Studies supports the development of U.S. strategic policy towards Africa by providing high quality, relevant academic programs, fostering awareness of and dialogue on U.S. strategic priorities and African security issues, building networks of African, American, European and international military and civilian leaders, assisting U.S. policymakers in formulating effective African policy, and articulating African perspectives to U.S. policymakers.

To download the paper, “Responding to the Challenge of Somali Piracy,” click here.