The Moral Economy of Somali Piracy – Organised Criminal Business or Subsistence Activity?
Article first published online: 27 MAR 2013
© 2013 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 94–100, February 2013
How to Cite
Klein, A. (2013), The Moral Economy of Somali Piracy – Organised Criminal Business or Subsistence Activity?. Global Policy, 4: 94–100. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2012.00192.x
- Issue published online: 27 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 27 MAR 2013
Abstract Somali piracy is increasingly explained in terms of organised criminal business. This article argues that piracy does not constitute a business and the analogy with organised crime is misleading and can obstruct the search for a long term settlement. Dismissing the underlying grievance, the destruction of Somali fisheries by foreign trawlers, with literalist explanations such as ‘pirates are rarely fishermen’ and ‘most targets are cargo ships’, ignores its function as a ‘legitimating notion’. The concept of ‘moral economy’ is used to explain how along the coast but also within the diaspora the identity of Somalis as victims is used to legitimize pirate activities. International responses should therefore focus actively and symbolically on reconstructing livelihoods along the coast, instead of seeking security sector and criminal justice solution. This is possible and cost effective because Somali piracy is a subsistence activity driven by lack of employment and investment opportunities, and provides a limited economic stimulus for coastal micro economies.