September 27, 2013
By Dr. Soraya Sidani and Dr. Theodore Karasik
As a direct result of the international initiatives and cooperation to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia in recent years, the level of successful attacks has significantly decreased leading to a real, yet uneasy, containment of piracy in the region. Significant steps must be taken to transition counter-piracy efforts from containment and suppression to transformation and development.
In 2013, the number of acts of piracy reported off the coast of Somalia has dropped off significantly, with no successful pirate operations in over a year. This success is attributed to several factors such as multilateral cooperation and joint naval operations to disrupt piracy at sea and European Union’s mission to attack pirate supply depots on shore, improved implementation of International Maritime Organization guidance and industry-developed Best Management Practices for protection against Somalia-based piracy and the use of armed guards onboard ships. However, this mitigation approach is not sustainable on the long term: indeed, these actions are expensive for multilateral actors and for industries.
Moreover, these responses do not address the piracy threat on its own since they are dealing only with the symptoms and not the roots of piracy. Long-term mitigation measures imply a shift toward Somalia state building capabilities and a good comprehension of the pirate’s business model. Indeed, because pirate’s business model remains intact, it appears necessary to develop new means that could contribute to shift from wartime to peacetime economy. In order to ensure this, many priorities in term of capacity building need to be addressed at the political, economic and security levels.
At the political level, to hold democratic and credible elections in 2016, an electoral framework is needed as well as a Federal Constitution in Somalia. This milestone would not be possible without a social and national reconciliation and a trustful dialogue between the regional administrations and the federal state that would lead to the adoption of an acceptable constitution by all the Somali political forces. In this regard and to enhance the legitimacy of the federal government, the more urgent step to take is to strengthen the public sector capacities through an assessment of the capacity needs and the implementation of a strategic plan to train the human resources in different administrations. This capacity building in the public sector is also crucial for the implementation of the Somali Compact at the national level.
In order to provide basic safety and security, the Somali Federal Government needs a fully-equipped and well-trained army supported by effective security services. The success of this objective relies first on the capability of the federal government to initiate a dialogue between the Somali clans to integrate their militias into federal institutions as well as the rehabilitation of former combatants and pirates. The UN and the international development partners are already active in this domain.
At the maritime level, the evolution of a maritime resource and security strategy should be endorsed by the Somali government to ensure a sustainable and effective maritime security and create a maritime law enforcement structures. If this question remains sensitive because of the issues related to the utilization of the maritime resources and the relations between the government and the regions, it’s nevertheless a crucial component for stability in Somalia and for enabling later economic measures to promote investments.
Economy plays a fundamental role in the Somali recovery from war. International experience shows that rapid growth reduce the risk that peace collapse in post-conflict countries as it helps build trust in the government institutions and creates community of interests. Therefore, at the economic level, in order to empower Somalis and offer them alternative livelihood, steps should be taken to improve the business environment through regulatory reform and to strengthen small and medium sized businesses and support institutions, such as chambers of commerce. Yet, the achievement of these objectives requires the support of international partners in terms of advice and training of civil servants and private sector actors. The experience of international Institutions such as International Finance Cooperation to support economic recovery and growth in conflict affected States in Africa, such as Burundi, Central African Republic, Ivory Cost, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan could be useful in this regard. Likewise, the advice of regional Arab and non-Arab partners could be also very valuable as well as the various channels opened by the Somali diaspora. Solutions from the states of the Arabian Peninsula, specifically the Gulf Cooperation Council, are necessary and in many ways a natural fit given the historical and current ties of these states to the merchant families of Somalia.
Once the business environment is improved, foreign investments are more likely to be attracted to increase private sector involvement in providing and rebuilding infrastructure such as roads, schools, power stations and specially ports. The development of infrastructures in the main ports of Somalia – Berbera, Bosasso, Mogadishu, Kismayo, and Hobyo – is indeed an important step into the development and economic recovery of the country especially to boost its economic activities with its neighbors and to improve the livelihood of coastal communities offering them alternative economic opportunities to piracy; Public Private Partnerships could play a main role in this effort. The rebuilding of financial markets, banks, and other financial institutions is also a milestone in this shift from wartime to peacetime economy in Somalia: such an effort will help dealing with international finance institutions and reintegrate the country into its regional economic environment. In the short term, this step will insure an access to microfinance and expand opportunities for youth in a country where more than half of the population is under 18 years old.
Somalia is now at a cross roads and its successful navigation towards the path of peace and stability relies on its ability to address these crucial issues. The support of international stakeholders is then critical because beyond the Somali state, this matter also challenges the ability of regional governments to address security concerns in their own zone of influence. In addition, the idea of capacity building needs to be thought out more by all stakeholders. The mandates of many international coalitions and other entities are going to run out in the next few years and there is a need to start now discussions about how stakeholders will coordinate amongst themselves in order to avoid duplication of effort and to become more efficient in the coming years in Somalia. Most importantly, it is critical for Somalis themselves to help plan and coordinate their country’s revival. The Somali diaspora contains many scholars and notables whose talent and expertise needs to be married with the international and regional public-private sector efforts to find the most appropriate land-based solutions.
About the authors:
Dr. Soraya Sidani, Program Director, INEGMA Counter Piracy Program & Dr. Theodore Karasik, Director of Research and Consultancy
(The above is the first of many commentaries from analysts in INEGMA’s Counter-Piracy Program. The INEGMA Counter-Piracy Program is set up to provide the public and private sectors with various services related to piracy. This initiative aims to fill the needs of risk mitigation at sea for the merchant community and shipping industries with various tools and to provide expertise and recommendations for a long term strategy for countering piracy on shore. For more information contact the Program Director, Dr. Soraya Sidani, at [email protected])
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