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BOOK REVIEWS - Geiss: Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: The Legal Framework

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly


Paul Todd

PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AT SEA: The Legal Framework for Counter-Piracy Operations in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Robin Geiss, Professor of Law, University of Potsdam, and Anna Petrig, Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford (2011). xviii and 225 pp, plus 86 pp Index. Hardback £50.
Piracy and other forms of maritime violence have posed problems for both international and domestic legal systems for at least a quarter of a century. After all, the Achille Lauro affair, leading as it did to the drafting of the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation 1988 (“the SUA Convention”) occurred as long ago as 1985. By the time of the well-documented piratical attack on the Petro Ranger in 1998, piracy was a major problem in the Malacca Straits, South China Seas and elsewhere. The first of these incidents posed problems for the international legal regime of the time, the second for practical enforcement of the law. By no means all the problems of piracy and maritime violence are within the realms of international law. The Alondra Rainbow, which was hijacked in October 1999, and eventually boarded on the high seas by the Indian Navy, posed problems for prosecution under the domestic Indian law. Piracy can also pose problems for private law, as for example in The Saldanha, recently noted in this Quarterly.
Geiss & Petrig is not a comprehensive work on piracy as such, and indeed does not purport to be. The subtitle is “The Legal Framework for Counter-Piracy Operations in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden”, and in the introduction we are reminded that, “[a]lthough often perceived as an 18th-century phenomenon, since 2008, increasing pirate activities in the Gulf of Aden and more recently the Western Indian Ocean have once more drawn the international community’s attention to piracy and armed robbery at sea”. This is a book about the relatively recent attacks in and around Somalia (though it is fair to say that Part 2, which sets the scene historically, includes reference to


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