Soundings Papers: Examining Maritime Insecurity in Eastern Africa

Soundings No. 8
Soundings No. 8

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Raymond Gilpin

A spate of escalating hijackings in and around the east African coast between 2005 and 2012 thrust the Horn of Africa into the global spotlight and triggered an unprecedented international response. Maritime insecurity (dubbed ‘piracy’ by the media) raised concern in many quarters, not just because of the serious human, financial, economic and political costs to the region, but also because of potential geo-strategic implications. On the one hand, increasing unrest in this region could play into broader regional insecurity because of the potential for groups involved in maritime hijackings to forge alliances with violent extremist groups in the sub-region. There is also the possibility that the international response (which included the deployment of international naval assets in and around the Horn of Africa) could set the stage for superpower and proxy conflicts in the region.

This paper starts by analysing the causes and consequences of maritime insecurity in eastern Africa. It goes on to examine the manifestation, progression and evolution of maritime crime, before exploring some geo-strategic implications. A list of policy recommendations are proposed in the closing section.