A Thesis On Modern Day Piracy
by Stuart W. Smead
E-mail: stusmead@msn.com

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This paper set out to determine what methods the governments of Southeast Asia will use to fight against the problem of modern maritime piracy. It defines the problem and impact on both global shipping and the region of Southeast Asia. The paper concludes with the following key judgments: ­­ASEAN will likely request international assistance after attempting a regional approach, the economic impacts of piracy on global trade will cause the United States to become involved, piracy incidents will most likely continue to increase in frequency and lethality, and there will likely be a severe environmental incident in the South China Sea because of piracy.

Maritime piracy is a clear and present threat to global trade. Reported attacks against commercial ships have tripled over the past decade, increasing last year alone by 40 percent. Nearly two-thirds of the attacks in 1999 occurred in Asia, with 113 of the 285 reported cases taking place in Indonesia’s waters and ports. The scope of this crime goes beyond just economic concerns. The impact of piracy has potential political, human, and environmental issues as well. These issues are accentuated when considering 90 percent of the world’s trade moves via maritime shipping and 45 percent of all shipping moves through Asia.

Although the United States patrols the seas in this region, resources are limited and have decreased dramatically in recent years. The chase and capture of pirates creates unique and complex problems involving politics and jurisdiction. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has taken steps toward a regional approach of patrolling these waters and impeding the movements of pirate ships. However, unless ASEAN nations take a more active, pronounced role in the defense of the region, this problem and the potential for conflict will not disappear.


This paper examines the threat of modern maritime piracy, specifically in Southeast Asia, where the problem has been endemic for hundreds of years. The region has led the world in the number of maritime piracy incidents for the last decade, accounting for 56% of in 1999. Statistics indicate piracy attacks are increasing rapidly both in the numbers of incidents and the violence with which they are executed. Numerous sources responsible for tracking reported attacks estimate there were approximately 1,600 actual or attempted incidents internationally in the 10 years with an average cost to the shipping industry of $1 billion per year. The cost of piracy is not measured by economics alone, but also is a severe human, political, and environmental threat. Maritime piracy is no longer just a problem for those in the shipping business or in one specific region. It is now a global issue.

Figure 1. Worldwide Piracy Attacks, 1990 - 1999.
Source: United States Coast Guard, Worldwide Maritime Threat Assessment, May 1999, 12.


Piracy has affected maritime commerce for almost as long as oceans have been used for trade. The lethality of the attacks appears to be on the increase, with machine guns, mortars or other crew-served weapons replacing the traditional knife. Deaths because of attacks rose sharply in 1998, including one particular incident where 23 crewmembers were beaten and then thrown overboard. The problem is even worse than the figures suggest. Many shippers are reluctant to report pirate attacks due to increased insurance premiums, demands for extra crew pay, delays caused by lengthy investigations and corrupt government and law enforcement officials. The technology available, the increased sophistication of their methods of attack, and the movement toward pirate syndicates are strong indicators that incidents will continue to grow in frequency and violence.

Maritime officials are very concerned that this trend will eventually lead to an environmental disaster. Increased demand for energy sources such as oil and liquid nitrogen gas has led to an increase in shipping traffic, particularly in Southeast Asia. Pirates are increasingly targeting these ships. Several recent incidents resulted in vessels simply being left adrift with no crew or left unattended until the crew worked themselves free. A collision with other ships or worse, the shoreline, is of realistic potential. The use of more powerful weapons by pirates also could lead to an explosion. A clear threat to the environment exists.

Southeast Asia accounted for over half of the attacks reported worldwide last year. There are many reasons for this trend to continue including the economy, history of the region, the vast numbers of ships that transit the waters, and the region itself, which is ideal for pirates to execute their tactics. Complex issues such as jurisdiction, corruption, regional balance of power, and internal economic and social strife are limitations to an effective solution.

Figure 2. Southeast Asia
Source: Microsoft Streets & Trips 2001.

Representatives from both government and non-government organizations are just beginning to communicate after a decade of frustration. Recent initiatives include a joint maritime task force led by the Japanese coast guard. China vehemently rejects this option. Despite this reaction, the members of ASEAN realize that it will take a cooperative effort to even deter the rampant escalation of piracy in their region. The wheels of government turn slowly. So far, joint efforts include only seminars. Private companies are offering services that include surveillance and tracking of ships using GPS and the Internet. One company even offers crisis reaction teams who will physically recover a ship using helicopters and Special Forces tactics. Unions representing shippers and their crews are calling for United Nations involvement. The Maritime Safety Committee will meet on that and other piracy issues this year. It remains to be seen if ASEAN and the other countries of the region can overcome the complex issues involved in a regional solution to the problem or if they will seek international assistance because of the impact of piracy on global trade.

Organizations Responsible For Tracking Piracy Trends The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations' specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety. In 1983, the IMO began dealing with the problem of piracy and armed robbery. In 1991, they were tasked with analyzing all reports of piracy and armed robbery presenting summaries to the Maritime Safety Committee.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) formed an anti-crime bureau, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), in 1981. IMB's task is to prevent fraud in international trade and maritime transport, reduce the risk of piracy and assist law enforcement in protecting crews. It tracks cargoes and shipments and verifies their arrival at scheduled ports. The bureau quickly received the support of the International Maritime Organization in a resolution urging governments and law enforcement agencies to cooperate with the new body. It also has observer status with Interpol.

In 1992, because of the sharp increase in piracy incidents, the IMB convened a meeting between representatives of the shipping industry and law enforcement. The result was the creation of the Regional Piracy Center (RPC), operating from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The selection of this location emphasizes that this region suffers the most from piracy. The RPC is financed by voluntary contributions from the shipping and insurance industry. In close collaboration with law enforcement, the center acts on reports of suspicious shipping movements, piracy, and armed robbery at sea anywhere in the world. The center broadcasts daily status bulletins via satellite recording pirate attacks on shipping in East Africa, Indian Sub Continent, South East Asia, and the Far Eastern regions.

Legal Definitions and the Jurisdiction Problem An internationally accepted definition of piracy did not exist prior to 1958. Article 15 of the 1958 Geneva Convention of the High Seas and Article 101 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) define piracy as a violent seizure on the high seas of a private ship or the illegal detainment of persons or property aboard a ship for the purpose of private gain.

This narrow definition of piracy has led to issues over jurisdiction and law enforcement. Most piracy acts take place within territorial waters, not on the high seas. Therefore, they are not specifically covered by the UNCLOS definition of piracy. The United Nations or other international law institutions are powerless. The 1988 Rome Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation prevents pirates from seeking sanctuary in countries whose judicial system is ill equipped to prosecute them and forces nations to institute laws against piracy. It seeks to remove the problem of jurisdiction in piracy cases, which has often prevented states from prosecuting pirates that enter their territorial waters after committing piracy in the jurisdiction of another country. However, few regional states have ratified it and Southeast Asian governments continue to use the UNCLOS definition. This situation continues to be an advantage for the pirates.

The IMB defines piracy as an act of boarding or attempting to board any ship with the intent to commit theft or any other crime and with the intent or capability to use force in the furtherance of that act. This definition covers actual or attempted attacks whether the ship is berthed, at anchor or at sea. Although this definition does not carry any legal jurisdiction, it does allow for a more accurate accounting of piracy attacks internationally.

Types of Piracy
Modern pirates target a mixture of vessels, crews, and cargo. However, three types of piracy generally occur in global waters:

Harbor and anchorage thefts/attacks. Lax port security encourages this form of piracy. The IMB defines these type of assaults as low-level armed robbery (LLAR) - an opportunist attack on a ship, mounted close to land by small high-speed craft, crewed by criminal “maritime muggers” normally armed with knives. Their targets are usually cash and portable high-value personal items, with an average theft of $5,000 to $15,000. Ransacking and robbery of vessels on the high seas or in territorial waters. The IMB defines these types of assault as medium-level assault and robbery (MLAR)- violent attacks of robbery involving serious injury or murder by well-organized gangs, usually heavily armed and working from a “mother” ship. This is a prevalent form of piracy, and potentially the most dangerous. Usually the pirates either tie-up, kills, or set the crew adrift with no one left to control the ship.

Hijacking of vessels to convert them for the purposes of illegal trading. The IMB defines these types of assault as a major criminal hijack (MCHJ) - well resourced and well-planned international criminal activity, using large gangs of highly trained and heavily armed operatives that are fully prepared to use firearms. This type of piracy is commonly referred to as the “phantom ship phenomenon.” Vessels are seized and the ships’ cargos are transferred onto smaller ships while still at sea and sold to other pirate rings or private bidders. The ships are then fraudulently registered with false papers, enabling the pirates to take on new cargos. The new shipments are never delivered, but are transferred to other vessels at alternate ports for sale to prearranged buyers.

Modus Operandi

In order to engage targets of opportunity, pirates have the ability to use commercially available surface radar and to intercept distress calls. Vessels that are experiencing mechanical difficulties or are otherwise immobilized are at particular risk. Reports of attacks on stranded or adrift vessels are numerous. Among the critical targets have been the oil and gas tankers that form the lifeline for Japan and other Asian states. These large, technically complex ships have small crews whose skills are not directed at repelling invaders. Pirates approach the large ships surreptitiously at night or during periods of limited visibility. Using high-speed small boats, they throw a grappling hook over the railing, and board with rope ladders. Often armed with machine guns and grenades, they capture and subdue the crew. After robbing valuables from crew members and the ship's safe, they depart, leaving the crew locked-up, handcuffed, set adrift, or dead. Attacks are becoming more lethal and the targets more valuable.


Southeast Asia accounted for 56% of piracy attacks reported globally during 1999, with 113 of the 285 reported cases taking place in Indonesia’s waters and ports. Piracy has been endemic to this part of the world for centuries. This region has led the world in piracy incidents for the last ten years. There are several reasons why this area accounts for the high number of attacks.

Figure 3. Reported Piracy Incidents in Southeast Asia
Source: Table by author. Data collected from International Maritime Bureau.

Economic. The Asian economic collapse in 1997-1998 had two primary effects on piracy in the region. People turned to crime in order to make money at the same time governments in the region were forced to reduce anti-piracy efforts such as patrols and coastal surveillance. For countries most adversely affected, particularly Indonesia, the problem is compounded by the redeployment of naval and law enforcement assets to deal with internal security issues, including separatism and communal unrest. In addition, technological advances have meant many ships carry high value navigation and communication equipment, a lucrative target. These advances also have led shippers to reduce their crew size to half of what they used twenty years ago, making it an easier task to for the pirates to take control of a ship. With increased finances, the pirate gangs are able to purchase more weapons and larger, faster boats. Historically, piracy in Southeast Asia was thought to be an acceptable part of the local culture, a normal but illegal means of making money. Violence was common so the communities viewed piracy as just a means to supplement their income. In certain areas, it may have been the only way to survive, as agrarian and economic conditions were never sufficient to sustain them. From this perspective, it is logical how a culture of piracy developed in this region. The recent economic developments have only encouraged a return to old ways. International assistance in improving the economy will not be the only solution. The financial gains from hijacking a ship are so great that any improvement in the economy is insignificant when compared to the potential gains of organized piracy.

Political. The end of the Cold War resulted in a reduction in the navies of the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom. The absence of these forces diminished the deterrent effect on pirates in the region. The international community had hoped that those countries, geographically part of the region, would fill the gap left by the major powers. Unfortunately, third world debt has meant that most of these countries have insufficient finances to mount anything like a reasonable physical sea going presence. Numerous reports allege that pirate rings and syndicates receive material, financial and intelligence support from corrupt officials in southern China and Indonesia. Underpaid maritime security forces and a culture of corruption evolved under years of authoritarian governments encourage officers and lower ranking members to seek other sources of income. In countries with high tariff barriers, such as many Asian countries, smuggling is a lucrative business and works effectively for fencing pirated goods.

The Region. Maritime piracy has been endemic to the Southeast Asian and Far East regions for hundreds of years. This trend persists, as noted previously; Southeast Asia has been the annual leader in maritime incidents since 1991. The main piracy prone areas in Southeast Asia are Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. The large increase in commercial maritime traffic provides ample targets. The Malacca Strait, at 500 miles long, is the worlds longest strait, and it is the main seaway connecting the Indian Ocean and the China Sea. Over 600 vessels transit the strait on a given day. This congestion, along with the requirement for vessels to slow down as they transit the narrow straits, provides great opportunity for pirates to conduct a successful attack. There is also difficulty in effectively monitoring the large number of islands in the region.

Figure 4. Map of Southeast Asia
Source: International Maritime Bureau, Map of Indonesia, accessed 7 November 2000.

Lack of Reporting. In the highly competitive shipping industry, there is reluctance for shippers to report piracy incidents. Increased insurance premiums, demands by crews for higher pay, and delays due to official investigations that can result in additional port costs of up to $10,000 a day cause many attacks to remain unreported. Specifically in Southeast Asia, shippers do not trust potentially corrupt law enforcement and government officials. There is widespread belief that many criminal syndicates retain close links with, or have access to, these officials. There have been cases in China where pirates have been allowed to go free, and where cargos were permanently impounded or independently sold off by port officials in a “no-questions asked” market. Due to increased international attention, China recently improved its anti-piracy efforts, but corruption remains relatively high.


Figure 5: Comparison of Violence Used in Attacks 1998-1999.
Source: United States Coast Guard, Worldwide Maritime Threat Assessment, May 1999, 14.

The actual threat or cost of piracy is measured in several ways - human, political, economic, and environmental. At its most basic level, it is a danger to the lives and welfare of the populace. Death, injury, or at least trauma to crews and seafarers are usually the result of an attack. Indicative of the recent rise in violence is a particularly brutal incident that took place in 1998. The 23 crewmembers of the MV CHEUNG SON, a Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, were clubbed to death after being gathered together on the upper deck, weighted, bound, and gagged. Six of the bodies were later recovered in fishing nets. In this case, Chinese authorities did not release the pirates, executing the 13 men indicted for the attack.

This figure reflects the large increase in number of attacks worldwide (285) in 1999 and the different types of violence encountered. The large decrease in the number of crewmembers, 72 in 1998 compared to 5 in 1999, most likely demonstrates the result of the execution of the 13 pirates by the Chinese government. In another case in 1996, two speedboats approached a 10-crew fishing vessel, the NOMINA, while it was fishing in the waters off the southern Philippines. As the boats drew alongside, the occupants opened fire with automatic weapons. In less than a minute, the gunmen killed nine of the unarmed crew. The NOMINA has not been seen since.

Piracy has a direct economic impact on global trade and governments in the region. The three components of maritime industry most affected by piracy are the shippers (owners of the cargo), the carriers (owners of the vessel), and insurers of both the ships and the cargos. Estimates of the monetary cost to the industry range from $450 million to $1 billion. These figures do not include the $100 million that the Boat Owners Association of the United States estimates is lost in stolen pleasure craft. Vulnerability to piracy affects the trading country as well. Lack of any deterrent action by the affected government could result in a boycott of its port facilities. Between 1992-1995, the British and Japanese Shipowners Associations threatened to reduce and redirect trade until Hong Kong increased its maritime surveillance. Similar movements are being expressed in regard to Indonesia today. Shippers may take the longer sea routes south of Indonesia. The routes may cost more in time but not as much as the inconvenience of losing a cargo to pirates. A nation that relies on safe shipping lanes for a significant portion of its economy will feel the most direct impact. Japan imports the majority of its oil from the Middle East. Significant impedance to the flow of this oil could be a direct threat to its national security. Piracy does not, however, just affect the larger nations that can afford massive supertankers. On 3 November 1991, pirates attacked a fleet of Bangladeshi fishing trawlers in the Bay of Bengal, leaving 13 injured and 50 missing. It was thought that the pirates, who attacked under cover of darkness, came from either Burma or India and apparently took advantage of the fact that Bangladesh lacks fast patrol boats to combat piracy. Although almost a decade ago, this incident highlights the threat to those nations whose small fishing fleets provide needed foodstuffs to the local populace. Any interruption can have a severe effect on Third World nations whose economies already are barely functioning at subsistence levels.

Corruption among elected officials can undermine and weaken political stability. China and Indonesia have been heavily criticized in this area. The author of a recent article in TIME Asia stated the only way President Abdurrahman Wahid could restore credibility to his administration would be to solve the huge problem of piracy. He further acknowledged that it is an open secret in regional shipping circles that rogue elements in the Indonesian military and police have a hand in the problem. The nations of ASEAN are just beginning to seek regional solutions to piracy and put pressure on corrupt officials.

The political, economic, and even the human costs of piracy are dwarfed by the potential environmental threat to Southeast Asia. More than half of the world’s annual merchant fleet tonnage passes through the Straits of Malacca, with the majority continuing into the South China Sea. This flow of oil is three times greater than through the Suez Canal/Sumed Pipeline, and fifteen times greater than oil flows through the Panama Canal. Oil flows through the Strait of Malacca rose to 9.5 million barrels per day in 1997, and rising demand for oil in Asia could almost double these flows over the next two decades. Two-thirds of the world’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) trade also takes place in this region.

Maritime officials are expressing serious concern that growing violence on ships in the region could lead to an environmental catastrophe, either a major oil spill or, even more threatening, an explosion on an LNG tanker. The concern emanates from continued reports of crews being tied up during pirate attacks, leaving the ships, including very large crude tankers and LNG carriers, in danger of groundings or collisions. In one attack against a fully laden tanker, six men armed with machetes boarded the ship, slashed one seaman and the captain, the only ones on the bridge at the time, and left the ship to drift on its own. The tanker steamed out of control less than a kilometer off the eastern coast of Indonesia before the crew was able to stop the attack. In addition, the use of increasingly powerful weapons by pirates has brought with it the danger of a potentially devastating ecological disaster. A direct attack on an oil or chemical tanker could cause a breach of the vessel's hull and result in a catastrophic spill or explosion.

If a spill of the magnitude of the Exxon Valdez occurred in Southeast Asia, there would be more than just ecological issues. There is a strong possibility that several of the narrow but extremely busy seaways would be closed to shipping and fishing for years, potentially devastating the economy in the region.

The IMB is convinced that, because there will be no second chance with an environmental disaster, the community must take a proactive approach to the problem and take all possible measures to prevent a first one. Several years ago, oil companies formed East Asia Response Limited as a nonprofit venture that provides equipment expertise, and training facilities for fighting oil spills. They are capable of responding anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region and can provide both airborne and waterborne equipment.


There are many initiatives being undertaken by various countries and international organizations to counter the piracy threat. The IMO began conducting seminars in 1998. These seminars focus on assisting governments and officials enhance their capability to prevent and suppress piracy attacks in their waters. The most recent seminar was held in Singapore. Of significance, the United States and Russia were invited to participate. Technology can play an important role in the battle against piracy. The IMB worked together with satellite tracking system operators and produced a satellite tracking system called ShipLoc. The ShipLoc system is based on a small device that regularly reports to ship owners the exact position of their ships through a satellite network. If the ship is hijacked, the IMB piracy reporting center, with authorization from the ship owner, access the ship’s data. IMB then alerts the appropriate law enforcement agency that takes the necessary action. The only requirement for using the system is to have a PC with Internet access.

ShipTrac is a covert ship tracking service offered by Marine Risk Management (MRM) that also tracks course deviations by ships. The covert nature of ShipTrac means pirates or crews under duress cannot disable it. MRM maintains a database of piracy incidents, historic and recent, and of the personnel involved. They maintain close liaison with authorities in the areas prone to piracy incidents. MRM advertises that they are the first and only company that offers a direct solution piracy by way of their Maritime Asset Recovery and Protection service. This team is comprised of men with backgrounds in Special Forces training and experiences in anti-terrorist and maritime special operations. They use aircraft to deploy to the location of the attack and begin retaking the ship.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF), representing seamen and their employers worldwide, are demanding action by governments. They suggest that trade agreements should no longer be signed with countries who have not clearly taken action to fight piracy. They also want the involvement of the United Nations. They are presently lobbying the UN to create a maritime unit, a “Blue Helmets Naval Force,” under the control of the UN Security Council. It would include representatives from the industry, the seamen’s unions, the IMB and the IMO. This anti-piracy fleet force would have a mandate and a right of pursuit within territorial waters. The most significant challenge to this plan is finding government support, mainly financial, among the nations of the region. The first attempt at a governmental solution will most likely come from within ASEAN.

A recent attack on a Japanese freighter, the Alondra Rainbow, is prompting a quiet shift in government response toward regional security. Pirates hijacked the ship off the coast of Indonesia on 22 October 1999. It was carrying a $20 million cargo of aluminum ingots bound for Japan. The ship and crew, set adrift on a raft for 10 days, were eventually recovered. The Japanese government responded by proposing a three-pronged attack on piracy: establishing a regional “coast guard body,” strengthening support for shipping companies, and improving regional coordination to respond to attacks. Not being a military organization, Japan’s Maritime Safety Agency, as their coast guard is called, can operate abroad without violating Article 9 of their postwar peace constitution. Following this proposal, officials from China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea and 8 of the 10 members of ASEAN (Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) met in Singapore to discuss anti-piracy efforts. Despite having bitter memories of Japanese wartime occupation, most of the nations in the region favor the proposal. China did not agree to any multilateral solution, stating that they can solve their own problems. To date, this plan has not been initiated, although exchanges of intelligence information and joint military exercises have taken place between some governments. Complex issues include the balance of power between China, Japan, and the United States. Some of the smaller nations of the region, frightened by China’s size and assertiveness and by the reactions of Japan and India to China’s rising power, are moving closer to the United States even if in some cases the relationship is grudging. There is one certainty, whatever solution is decided upon, it will require a regional approach involving both governmental and non-governmental organizations with a focus on cooperation and obligation.


The United States is the world’s largest trading nation, and although the dollar amount of losses due to piracy is difficult to assess, America’s reliance on trade makes any attack on ship in foreign waters or ports, especially those of its trading partners, a maritime concern. Both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Coast Guard consider maritime piracy a problem that merits U.S. participation in regional seminars on the issue. Although today’s pirates target their victims in ways that may limit a direct U.S. response, several steps can be taken to help protect maritime trade and to assist other nations in improving their ability to combat piracy and reduce the threat. ASEAN specifically invited the participation of the United States in their most recent seminar, a seminar at which Japan recommended the initiation of a regional coast guard. The next step may very well be a request for international assistance. Any response from the United States will involve the intelligence community. This assistance would most likely be similar to other current international efforts in suppressing human smuggling and drug activities.


There are many books written about the Golden Age of piracy. Modern maritime piracy, however, is a relatively new concern with very few books written on the subject. Research on this topic has relied mostly on articles and reports reflecting facts, statistics, trends, and case studies. Sources include annual reports from the International Piracy Center in Kuala Lumpur and articles in periodicals and journals.

Jolly Roger with an Uzi by Jack Gottschalk and Brian Flanagan is probably the most comprehensive book covering modern piracy. This book provides an historical perspective on piracy, and its modern dimensions, and presents possible solutions to the problem. The authors examine the operations of modern pirates and the efforts of governments and industry to address this crime. This book is relatively broad in scope, yet serves as an excellent “starting point” for further research.

In order to present the problems caused by the definition of piracy in international law, various United Nations documents and articles by law professors were reviewed. One particular article, Trevor Hollingsbee’s article “Calls for Japanese Role as Asian Piracy Increases,” from Jane’s Intelligence Review, explains in detail the legal-historical background of piracy and the nature of its threat. Mr. Hollingsbee writes that geopolitics mandates a new approach to suppressing piracy around the globe. The author focuses on ways to establish regionalized enforcement mechanisms linked to regional organizations. This article explains the legalities of fighting piracy and presented solid arguments as to why the international community should take action.

Several articles from within Southeast Asia assisted in explaining why piracy is endemic to that region. Chanda Nayan’s article, “Foot in the Water,” in Far Eastern Economic Review was particularly helpful in gaining another perspective. This scope of this article ranges from the historical background of piracy in the region to the present problems in Indonesia.

It is important to note the current actions that both government and non-government organizations are initiating in the fight against piracy. As noted throughout that section of the paper, several sources including Jane’s Intelligence Digest and the International Maritime Bureau’s web site accurately reported on the seminars and meetings recently held by ASEAN. These sources assisted in the development of the key judgments.


Despite greater government concern, agreement on specific, effective regional measures to combat piracy have not been realized. Regional security concerns continue over Japan’s initiative to use their non-military coast guard to conduct joint patrols with other nations in Indonesian waters. Sensitivities over joint surveillance of areas under national jurisdiction remain a challenge to cooperation, as does issues of balance of power in the region.

Structural and institutional weaknesses in several countries in the region do not allow governments the ability to control this situation or provide the necessary assets to enforce the rule of law in their territorial waters. This is a distinct advantage for those individuals and organizations involved in piracy.

The potential for greater regional cooperation is increasing. Seminars attended by members of ASEAN and other countries in Southeast Asia resulted in discussion of previously opposed multilateral agreements. As international trade expands, effectively linking economies, and increased demand for energy supplies grows; the safety of modern trade routes will be crucial.


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