Pham Shares Expertise on Somali Pirates


Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director
Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Associate Professor
Justice Studies, Political Science and Africana Studies
James Madison University

Ph.D., Gregorian University (Rome)
B.A., University of Chicago

J. Peter Pham joined James Madison University in August 2004 as one of the first faculty members in the university's justice studies program. A thoughtful and prolific commentator, both as a writer and as a television and radio analyst, he shares his in-depth knowledge of Africa to help decipher developments on the rapidly changing continent.

Pham on Somali pirates:

"As I made the round of media appearances and interviews in the wake of the Maersk Alabama, one of the most annoying canards which I repeatedly encountered was the line, propagated by pundits in the West who for the most part knew nothing about Somalia until the country's pirates began to lead the news cycle, that the marauders were modern-day Robin Hoods defending Somali waters from reported incidents of illegal commercial fishing and toxic waste disposal." ... "Aside from the fact that the pirate gangs are highly-organized criminal enterprises and not just spontaneous groups of unemployed fishermen, most of the attacks nowadays are taking place well beyond not just the limit of 12 nautical miles which the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea fixes for any country's territorial waters, but also the 200 nautical miles from shore which the treaty allows for a state's exclusive economic zone."

-- "Strategic Interests" column in World Defense Review, April 23, 2009

Pham on terrorism in Africa:

"Ultimately, the way to defeat terrorism in Africa lies in enhancing the capacity of states in the region, both in terms of the democracy and stability of their political institutions and in their ability to police their own territory." ... "A war on terror must be fought globally, whenever and wherever extremists try to find shelter. While some priorities must inevitably be set in the allocation of scarce resources, entire regions must not be ignored simply because they do not figure prominently in certain conventional worldviews. Otherwise, in this conflict, a forgotten front can quickly inflame into an Achilles' heel."

-- "Strategic Interests" column in World Defense Review, April 20, 2006

Pham on U.S. interests in Africa:

"... there are three potential challenges to key American interests in Africa which will need to be faced in the near-to-intermediate term: The first is, in the context of the ongoing global war on terrorism, the necessity of preventing of Africa's poorly governed spaces being exploited to provide facilitating environments, recruits, and eventual targets for Islamist terrorists." ... "The second is protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance and promoting the integration of African nations into the global economy." ... "The third, which arises out of both the calculus of national interest as well as the inherent moral strain in American foreign policy, is empowering Africans and other partners to cope with the myriad humanitarian challenges, both man-made and natural, which afflict the continent with seeming disproportion - not just the devastating toll which conflict, poverty, and disease, especially HIV/AIDS, exact on Africans, but the depredations of the continent's remaining rogue regimes."

-- "Strategic Interests" column in World Defense Review, Nov. 6, 2008

In addition to his hundreds of articles and commentaries, Pham is the author of the books "Africa: Mapping New Boundaries in International Law" (coauthor, Hart Publishing, 2007), "Child Soldiers, Adult Interests: Global Dimensions of the Sierra Leonean Tragedy" (Nova Publishers, 2005), "Liberia: Portrait of a Failed State" (Reed Press, 2004) and "Heirs of the Fisherman: Behind the Scenes of Papal Death and Succession" (Oxford University Press, 2004). 

Before coming to JMU, Pham held various diplomatic appointments through the Vatican Secretariat of State, including serving as the interim head of the diplomatic mission mediating the regional conflict in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2001-02. He was acting deputy chief of mission at the Vatican Embassy in the Philippines in 2000 after a five-year tenure as counselor to the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Vatican office in charge of human political, economic and social rights.

Pham in the News

"Cruise ship fends off pirate attack with gunfire" by Rukmini Callimachi and Nicole Winfield
Associated Press, April 26, 2009

"The Profitability Of Piracy"
NPR's "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon, April 25, 2009

"U.S. Mulls Striking Somali Terrorist Training Camps" by Dina Temple-Raston
NPR's "Morning Edition," April 20, 2009

"Lack of Effective Somali Government Root of Piracy Problem, Experts Say" by Andre de Nesnera
Voice of America, April 16, 2009

"Analysis: Pirates, gangs fuel Gulf of Guinea woes" by David Lewis
Reuters, April 15, 2009

"Somali Piracy—Causes and Consequences" by Joe DeCapua
Voice of America, April 10, 2009

"High Seas Hijacking"
Fox News Channel's "America's Newsroom" with Megyn Kelly, April 9, 2009

"Guinea junta agrees to hold vote in December" by Matt Purple
The Washington Times, April 9, 2009

"Opposition Leader Wins Presidency In Ghana" -
CBS News, Jan. 10, 2009

"A Challenge from Senegal," an op-ed by Peter Pham
The Washington Times, Jan. 4, 2009

"Opposition Leader to Be Ghana's President" by Francis Kokutse, Associated Press
The Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2009

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Published: Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Last Updated: Thursday, June 25, 2020

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