Libmonster ID: UK-1291


Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

sea pirates Keywords:, Gulf of Guinea, transnational crime

1" Two crew members were abducted and a third injured during a pirate attack off the west coast of Africa. Another person is still missing after eight armed men attacked a Dutch-owned cargo ship. The captain and mechanic were taken away on a speedboat, where the pirates escaped, robbing the crew. The Nigerian authorities are investigating." Such reports are increasingly appearing in the media and in the bulletins of agencies that monitor the safety of commercial shipping.

This happens in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, which is becoming increasingly dangerous for navigation. Naturally, the attention of the Russian public was attracted by the report about the attack on a Greek tanker on August 28, 2012, where 23 crew members are our citizens. The pirates siphoned off 3 thousand tons of fuel and disappeared without touching the sailors. And on October 15, six Russians and an Estonian citizen were abducted during an attack on the French ship Bourbon Liberty 249, which served oil platforms on the shelf off the coast of Nigeria near the Niger Delta.2
In June 2012, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov, in an interview with RIA Novosti, spoke about the protection of civilian maritime navigation in the world's oceans and the fight against piracy.:

"...At the direction of the Russian leadership and in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution, our Navy began protecting civilian shipping in the Gulf of Aden in October 2008. For four years now, Naval warships and support vessels have been making trips to this area of the World Ocean. ...During this time, not a single seizure of vessels that accompanied the ships of the Russian Navy was allowed. The security of 237 Russian citizens was ensured. We managed to prevent an attempt to capture one merchant ship... Pirate activity is recorded by our and international services not only in the Gulf of Aden, but also in the Gulf of Guinea. I must say that this area is gradually becoming the second after Somalia base of sea robbers. At the same time, their actions differ significantly from the practice of maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden: they are limited to looting the ship and, as a rule, do not hold crew members hostage for the purpose of later obtaining ransom."


A surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from Senegal in the north to Angola in the south, has occurred just over the past year and a half.

According to the International Bureau of Shipping (IBM), there were 409 pirate attacks in 2011, including 275 off the eastern coast of Africa and in the Gulf of Guinea. The Bureau notes that often pirate attacks in the gulf off the coast of Nigeria or Benin are not reported, " it is precisely the lack of information about attacks by Nigerian pirates that is worrying."4. (Different sources give different data on the number of pirate attacks. - E. E.)

Some companies do not even report cases of piracy, so as not to increase insurance for cargo transportation. Insurance coverage for shipping around the Horn of Africa has doubled, and there is no reason not to expect it to grow in West Africa.

An advisory group based in Norway states :" Our investigations show that an organized group of pirates based in Nigeria enjoys a high level of support in that country." Many prominent Nigerians have been accused of engaging in tempting business on the black market for oil and fuel. The seized cargo may have been sold at various West African ports, including Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire and the port of Gentil in Gabon.5
March 28, 2012 The Joint Military Committee (JWC), created by Lloyd's Corporation, extended the zone of danger and possible military operations to Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa, as well as to Benin. Now the risk zone near Nigeria already extends to 200 nautical miles from the coast 6.

About 3 million barrels of oil from this region are delivered daily to the North American and European markets. Therefore, governments of energy-importing countries could do more to prevent piracy in the region ( although the US has already invested $35 million). training and equipping local anti-piracy forces 7). Currently, the area that needs to be controlled here is much smaller than the Gulf of Aden, and, in general, a restless part of the Indian Ocean. But the level of violence in the Gulf of Guinea region is of concern to international organizations.

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The map shows the most "hot" points of pirate lawlessness in the Gulf of Guinea.

Many are raising the question of using other countries ' warships in cooperation with Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin to prevent piracy from growing on a scale that can rival Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Representatives of Nigeria report that the technical control capabilities of shipping are currently improving. It is assumed that all vessels in Nigerian waters can be monitored in this way. But the countries that have navies are not yet in a hurry to extend their operation to West African waters.


In November 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the request of Benin's President Boni Yayi, sent a special mission to assess the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The move follows the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution in which it condemned acts of piracy and armed looting in the Gulf of Guinea and called on regional organizations to develop a common strategy to deal with this danger.

The UN mission concluded that in 2011, piracy in the region has become more systematic, pirates are improving their methods of attack, and they are beginning to use heavy weapons. Their attacks are aimed at capturing valuable cargo, not hostages for ransom, as is the practice of Somali pirates. The rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea hinders the efforts of West African States to promote international trade and exploit their vast natural resources for socio-economic development. Nigeria, for example, loses approximately 7% of its oil production to criminal activities, including piracy.

In February 2012, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe said at a briefing at the UN Security Council:: "While piracy was an unknown phenomenon in the Gulf of Guinea 10 years ago, the number of recent attacks and the damage they have caused is appalling... In 2010, there were 45 cases of piracy in 7 countries. They were reported to the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO). Over the past year, the number of pirate attacks has increased to 64 in 9 countries... The States of the region must create a united front to respond effectively to the growing threat." He stressed that piracy and armed robbery of ships in the region increasingly undermine efforts to maintain and promote socio-economic development. 8
Evaluating the United Nations anti-piracy strategy in West Africa, we can assume that it is still at the embryonic level. Much remains to be done to respond adequately to this challenge.


Environmental pollution caused by oil workers, the deterioration of fishing and agricultural conditions, and the inability of the local population to benefit from the exploitation of natural resources, especially oil, have all led coastal residents in Nigeria to demand greater autonomy. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has become an umbrella organization for local armed groups with socio - economic and political demands. Since 2006, insurgents have increasingly targeted ships and oil platforms in the delta itself and in nearby waters, and abducted foreign workers. They illegally pumped oil out of pipelines and destroyed oil equipment. Soon enough, such attacks became a source of cash income. Over time, it has become impossible to determine whether such actions are politically motivated or simply banditry. Everything began to merge into one.

In the face of massive financial losses and increasing instability, the Nigerian authorities are tasked with uprooting the real causes behind pirate attacks, particularly corruption, and ensuring economic development in the Niger Delta.

It is still too early to talk about the effectiveness of these measures.

Nigeria is currently the fifth largest oil supplier to the United States, and by 2015, it may become the fourth largest oil supplier to the United States.9 The crisis in Libya has only increased the demand for its hydrocarbons. Against this background, the growth of pi is not surprising-

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piracy and armed robbery at sea.

An amnesty granted in 2009 to politically motivated members of the Movement for the Liberation of the Niger Delta has reduced the level of discontent. But it was the leaders who benefited, not the middle and lower ranks of the rebels. Former rebels have changed the nature of their operations by switching to piracy.10
It should be noted that within its own maritime borders, Nigeria controls the situation to some extent with the help of naval patrols and intelligence. However, pirate attacks in neighboring countries have become more frequent. The situation is particularly dangerous in Benin, where the port of Cotonou provides 40% of State revenues. The number of foreign vessels in the port has decreased, which has hit the economy of Benin and its economically dependent neighbours, Niger and Mali. 11
Analysts believe that many of the pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are Nigerians. Corruption of the judiciary and political bodies in Nigeria allows crime to flourish. According to experts, the tanker hijackings were organized by an extensive criminal gang that is familiar with the oil business. Those involved in hijacking ships may have already practiced in the Niger Delta, where criminals steal oil from pipes and then sell it on the black market.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has called for concerted action by governments, shipping companies and UN agencies to successfully act against pirates. However, the question arises, on the basis of what legal acts are these efforts possible?

Article 100 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982, states that "All States shall cooperate to the greatest extent possible in the suppression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place beyond the jurisdiction of any State." Article 108 defines a framework for regional cooperation to combat piracy and drug smuggling. However, armed looting in this region is more common in territorial waters, where criminal activity and social protests are intertwined, which makes it difficult to apply international legal norms.

Florentina A. Ukonga of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council, said that in the countries of the region there is no standard, universally accepted definition of piracy. Therefore, in some cases, pirates can avoid punishment or get off with a light punishment 12.

In the Gulf of Aden, sea robbery can be qualified as "piracy in the open ocean". In the Gulf of Guinea, attacks mainly occur in national, i.e. coastal waters, so they cannot be legally classified as"acts of piracy". Meanwhile, attacks by armed bandits on the ship and threats to the crew or cargo are difficult not to call "piracy".

But the law is the law. If we look at the piracy that is rampant in Somalia, it is rooted in the fact that the State has been absent there for almost twenty years. Piracy, or to put it more precisely, criminal attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea, means the following: banditry on the sea routes of a region that is insufficiently protected by warships.

The UN Security Council has unanimously approved Resolution No. 2018 (2011) on piracy and organized crime in West Africa. This resolution confirms articles 100, 101 and 105 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and thereby defines the legal framework for combating piracy and armed robbery at sea. Thus, the Security Council decided not to amend the existing provisions of international law, which, however, cannot cover all forms of criminal acts at sea, including piracy, armed robbery, drug and arms smuggling by sea.

Existing legal norms on piracy are vague and fragmented, so they are not always effective. Of course, there are precedents for regional agreements both in Asia and in the Horn of Africa. They can serve as models for the situation in the Gulf of Guinea region.

Under international law, piracy itself can only be committed outside of territorial waters. When attacks are carried out within the territorial waters or in the internal waters of the respective countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, this is subject to the law on armed banditry. Therefore, it is questionable how international mechanisms of repression and combating piracy can be used at the international level.


The European Union of Shipping Companies calls for using the experience of combating Somali pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, namely: to navigate in internationally recommended transit corridors under the protection of warships. The idea is not bad, but there are practically no foreign warships in the region.

Vessels are advised to move at 18 knots per hour to make it more difficult for potential invaders to disembark. Secondary measures also help - the installation of higher sides, the elimination of protrusions that help pirates land on ships. But that's not the solution, after all.

Western shipping companies are calling for the use of NATO naval forces to protect ships from pirates, as is done in the waters of the Horn of Africa. Ships and other armed forces of countries whose interests are affected by banditry on the seas should coordinate actions with them.

Increasingly, the question of armed protection of merchant ships is being raised - by the crew themselves or by private security firms. However, this can lead to an increase in pirate violence. The main thing is the safety of the crews. Even if cargo owners are concerned about their safety, the safety of the crews and the vessels themselves must come first.

Now both the blogosphere and the media

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they are filled with open and hidden ads for security companies. Russian citizens with combat experience were also not left out. In this regard, we will quote excerpts from an interview with the MK newspaper of one of the organizers of the Russian security company 13:

"Piracy is a crime in its purest form," says a former Russian officer who identified himself as Alex. - There are no authorities in the areas where pirates operate, and there is no opportunity to earn money either. One capture, another-and the business went. Three years ago, only 30% of shipping companies used security services, now-all 80.

- The pirates are not confused by the fact that there are armed guards on the ship?

- Pirates are not heroes of the Brest Fortress, and they will not throw themselves at the muzzle of a machine gun. In most cases, even before the attack, they try to test the ground regarding the armed people on board. When we see their boats, we raise our weapons above our heads. Usually, after that, they realize that we have the advantage.

- And the crew can resist, for example, shoot back?

"They don't have guns. However, according to the directive on crew actions in the event of a pirate attack, sailors must throw bolts and Molotov cocktails at the invaders... But this order is criminal. The sailor is an unarmed, peaceful man, and he did not sign up to stand under bullets.

- Isn't there a "security" corridor, where warships of the Pacific Fleet provide protection and wiring of vessels?

- I will give a case that outraged all sailors. We were escorting a huge one-hundred-thousandth oil tanker, entering the "security corridor", when suddenly the watchman saw a motorboat approaching with five tanned guys. We didn't take any chances - we are still sitting on a powder keg - and gave a warning fire. The captain, according to the instructions, on the 16th radio channel reported the attack and requested help:"... I'm ship so-and-so, being attacked by pirates. Help mi, help mi..."

"So what?"

- We naturally repulsed the attack. And the US military contacted us in 6 hours: "Are you all right? We know there was a pirate attack on you..." The captain broke down and blurted out all the English swear words he could remember on the air.

"How do pirates treat prisoners?"

- Pirates of West Africa are real bandits who attack ships not for ransom, but for the purpose of taking money, equipment, goods. They can stab a man with a knife and shoot him..."


In August 2011, Lloyd's listed Nigeria, Benin and the surrounding waters in the same risk category as Somalia, where two decades of war and anarchy have allowed piracy to flourish. This means an increase in the cost of shipping in the Gulf of Guinea and a sharp increase in the income of insurers.

In early 2012, a "bomb" called "The Economic Price of Piracy" exploded on the pirate front. This is a study prepared by the American One Earth Future Foundation and solemnly presented in London. The figures of losses from piracy -$8-12 billion-are now circulating in all the world's media. each year, and the "income" received by pirates in the form of ransoms - $177 million in 2009 and $238 million in 2010.

These figures are recognized by the UN and international maritime organizations. However, most of the events of modern life become objects of comments and assessments not only in official or official publications, but also in the blogosphere. And there, independent investigations can also have their own "bomb" effect.

This was the analysis of the economic cost of piracy, conducted by Mikhail Voitenko, a well - known expert in this field. Here is an abridged summary of his analysis 14:

"The research is amazing. But not by the figures of losses from piracy, but by the level of falsification of publicly available data. Here are just a couple of examples of the most blatant fraud.

The first is the amount of ransoms. The researchers made 2009 the "base year" for calculating the total amount of ransoms paid to pirates. According to them, the average purchase was $3.4 million, 52 vessels were purchased, and the total amount was $177 million. In fact, from 3 to 3.5 million - this is a record amount that year, paid for the supertanker "Sinus Star", "Faina" with tanks and a couple of other vessels. And the average cost of buybacks was $2.4 million. That is, the "researchers" declare records with an average amount, equating the cost of a " dou "(sailing heavy-duty wooden boat) with a couple of tons of rice on board with a supertanker filled with oil to the eyeballs, or with a "Faina" filled with tanks and "Shilkas".

The Pirate Fighters Corporation has been manipulating statistics for a long time, and the Dow, which has remained unchanged since the days of Sinbad the Mariner (except that the gasoline engine appeared), has become simply indispensable for this purpose. According to the study, 52 vessels were purchased in 2009, while in fact - 31. Just in the statistics, without batting an eye, included all the "dow", and this despite the fact that only isolated cases of redemption of such boats are known - millions are out of the question.

In fact, the pirates have never received more than $75 million in ransom payments in their history, and that was during the record-breaking years of 2009 and 2010.

The second falsification is an estimate of expenses incurred in connection with changes in the routes of ships. The point is that allegedly because of the terrible threat of piracy, many shipowners redirect ships to bypass the Cape of Good Hope and all of Africa, and not through the Suez Canal.

...In most cases, it is easier and cheaper to hire a guard than to drive a ship around Africa. Cost of such protection

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it does not depend on the size and types of vessels. A standard group of 4 people with light weapons costs an average of $40-60 thousand per pass, depending on the route. It is unlikely that less than 30 thousand vessels pass through dangerous waters a year, taking into account the East-West (Suez Canal) and North-South routes.

If we give each transit protection with an average price of $40 thousand, we will get $1.2 billion. -this is a huge and very attractive market. Of course, this is still a long way off. It is unlikely that more than 20% of all vessels following dangerous waters employ security guards. These costs are the direct, direct losses that the global economy suffers from Somali piracy - about $500 million a year. No 8 - 12 billion rubles.

And here are the most interesting losses-from the increased cost of insurance.

Most ports in the world will be closed to vessels that do not have a set of mandatory insurance policies. A shipowner who refuses to pay the insurance fee will immediately go out of business - his ships will simply not be able to work unless he switches them to transporting contraband. Therefore, the word of insurers is law. They have a so-called Lloyd's Joint War Committee, which makes decisions on including a particular part of the world's oceans in the list of zones equated to military risk zones. Therefore, I confidently assume that the pirates are used as a pretext, and under this pretext, a tribute of several hundred million dollars is collected annually from shipping. Please note that all other losses and gains are objective and physical in nature.

To get ransoms, pirates risk their lives and, as far as you can call it work, work. The shipowner pays the ransom and bears losses related to the long-term downtime of the ship. In order to receive a considerable reward, private security guards board ships and do their job, sometimes risking their lives. And only war risk insurance has no real basis, does not carry any risks and costs. This is a net income without any effort.

So a reasonable question arises: do we have the right to attribute these shipping losses to piracy?.."

Obviously, there are no generally accepted and reliable statistics on piracy losses. Therefore, the above estimates have a right to exist, at least as a starting point for a serious discussion.


When people talk about the phenomenon of piracy, they sometimes forget that it is only one form of organized crime, which includes human trafficking, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and terrorism. These forms of crime are linked to each other and feed off of each other. They share common social roots-poverty, unemployment, especially among young people, massive corruption, as well as dysfunctional security agencies and transparent borders.

It is no coincidence that the UN Security Council has addressed the issue of transnational crime in West Africa almost at the same time as the issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. However, it was decided to cover a larger area - not only the coastal states, but also the Sahel zone. Landlocked Mali, Niger and Chad are directly linked to their coastal neighbors.

Abdel Fataw Moussa, political Director of ECOWAS, said that countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Senegal have taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of their waters, but most of them do not have the capacity for operations on the high seas. He stressed that " The impact of uncontrolled piracy on both the economies of West African countries and the global economy cannot be underestimated." According to him, pirate activity in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea is fueled by other forms of organized crime, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism.15
Countries in West Africa and the Sahel region are making efforts at the national and regional levels to address these challenges. They adopted the regional action plan to address the growing problem of drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa and the African Union Action plan on drug control and crime prevention.

Transnational organized crime, including piracy , is not just a criminal phenomenon. It undermines the very foundations of the State.

Over the past few years, a number of West African States have made a breakthrough on the path of economic development and achieved stronger political stability. However, the situation remains tense. Terrorism and the proliferation of weapons, as well as increased piracy off the coast, not only pose serious threats to the security and lives of people, but also challenge the governance systems, peace and stability of States in the region, both unstable post-conflict States and Those that have embarked on a democratic path.


1 (28.02.2012)

2 (17.10.2012)

3 (26.06.2012)

4 (28.02.2012)

Rider David. 5 Piracy's Emerging Market: The Gulf of Guinea - (25.10.2011)


Nelson Rick, Ware Aaron. 7 An Emerging Threat? Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea - (8.08.2012)

8 (27.02.2012)

Nelson Rick, Ware Aaron. 9 Op. cit.

Alessi Christopher. 10 Combating Maritime Piracy - (13.03.2012)

11 (21.02.2012)

12 (27.02.2012)

13 Antipiracy of the XXI century // Moskovsky Komsomolets. 04.05.2012 -

Voitenko M. 14 Economy of piracy - (9.06.2011)

15 (27.02.2012)


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