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  • Delegitimising China’s Naval Presence in the Indian Ocean Region

    The impending removal of the piracy High Risk Area off the coast of Somalia presents an ideal opportunity for India, in partnership with the wider Indo-Pacific maritime community, to delegitimise China’s naval presence and strengthen regional mechanisms for ensuring maritime security.

    August 30, 2022

    Too Early to Celebrate! The Decline of Somali Piracy off the East Coast of Africa

    The pirates of Somalia constitute one one of the greatest threats to maritime security in modern time.Their operations started amidst the political instability, economic crisis and state collapse that characterised the fall of the Siad Barre regime in Somalia in 1991.

    November 2017

    Baruna asked: What is the rationale behind India's demand for rollback of norms on piracy risk?

    Sarabjeet Singh Parmar replies: One major impact of piracy was the hike in insurance premiums for ships transiting piracy prone areas declared as ‘war risk areas’. Shipping insurance can be broken down into four main facets - war risk, kidnap and ransom, cargo, and hull insurance. War risk is the excess charge levied when a ship transits an area declared as a ‘war risk area’. Initially, in May 2008, the Lloyds Market Association (LMA) Joint War Committee declared the Gulf of Aden as a ‘war risk area’. This resulted in a 300 times increase in war risk premiums. Similarly, there were hikes in premiums related to insurance cover for kidnap and ransom, cargo and hull. Subsequently, in early 2011, due to the easterly spread of piracy into the Indian Ocean, the sea areas of the Arabian Sea up to the western coast of India were declared as a ‘war risk area’. The inclusion of this area resulted in Indian shipping companies paying extra premium for the transit time in the waters of the Indian Ocean prior to entering the Gulf of Aden or after exiting the Gulf of Aden.

    India has been lobbying with Lloyds to reduce the expanse of the declared ‘war risk area’ and exclude the waters adjacent to the Indian western coast as anti-piracy patrols by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard have resulted in a substantial decrease in acts of piracy in the waters near the western coast. As per reports, the number of piracy attempts in the Indian Ocean was reduced to around 70 by end of 2012 as compared to 237 in 2011 and 219 in 2010. Therefore, it is argued that there is a need for revision of the declared ‘war risk area’ and an attendant reduction in insurance premiums. The issue was addressed by the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid while speaking at the recently concluded meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation in New Delhi, wherein he said:

    “There is a need to be more precise in defining high-risk areas in Indian Ocean based on the actual incidents of piracy as this impacts adversely on insurance premiums and adds to the cost of shipping in our region.”

    Vipin asked: What are the different measures taken by the Indian Government to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean? How can piracy be eradicated from the Indian Ocean Region?

    S.S. Parmar replies: The measures taken by the Indian Government can be viewed at three levels. Firstly, operationally via kinetic means, by deploying naval ships with armed helicopters to patrol the piracy prone areas. Secondly, in the international arena, by participating in the various multilateral fora that have been set up to combat piracy, and thirdly, internally by taking steps to arrest and prosecute pirates and strengthen the fight against piracy via a piracy bill.

    Operationally, the Indian Navy commenced anti piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden from October 2008. Indian Naval ships operate independently and are not part of the multinational forces that operate in the area. In order to achieve a high degree of cooperation with other maritime forces, India is an active participant of various cooperative mechanisms like “Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE)” that have been established to facilitate sharing of information. In addition, India, Japan and China (all three nations operate independently) have agreed to coordinate patrols thereby ensuring an effective and optimum use of the combined maritime assets to escort ships, especially in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor established for use by all merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden. The Director General Shipping has launched a web-based registration service where merchant ships can register with DG Shipping in order to avail of the escort facility provided by Indian Naval ships in the Gulf of Aden.

    Due to the spread of piracy in the Indian Ocean, Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships have also been deployed in piracy prone areas nearer the Indian coast. As a result, around 1000 plus ships of various nationalities have been escorted and around 40 piracy attacks prevented by Indian forces deployed in these areas. At the international level, India continues to take up the issue of piracy and its attendant ramifications at various fora and advocates steps to be adopted by the international community. Internally, India arrests and prosecutes pirates as per the laws of the land, a weak point as of now as there is no specific penal code that addresses the issue of piracy. In arresting and prosecuting pirates, India is one of the few nations that do so. In order to strengthen the fight against piracy, a piracy bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the 15th session in April 2012. The bill post enactment should, amongst other aspects, give the required boost to the legal system to prosecute pirates.

    Piracy can be eradicated by addressing the root causes, an aspect well recognised by the international community. The root cause of piracy in the Indian Ocean lies on land i.e., the instability in Somalia. Addressing this issue requires an international understanding and sustained effort.

    International Order at Sea: Anti-Piracy and Humanitarian Operations

    International Order at Sea: Anti-Piracy and Humanitarian Operations
    • Publisher: Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies

    International Order at Sea is a workshop series chaired by the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS) in partnership with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi; China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies (CFISS) and China Institute for Marine Affairs (CIMA), Beijing; and the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), Alexandria, VA.

    The workshop series examines seapower and the future of the global commons. It explores how international order at sea is established, maintained, changed and challenged, and it focuses on the interaction and cooperation among leading, emerging and smaller naval powers to maintain order at sea

    • ISBN 978-82-91571-15-7,
    • E-copy available

    Somali Piracy: A Form of Economic Terrorism

    Piracy over the years has been driven by geography, political instability and the availability of safe havens. Apart from these established factors, economics too play a role. This article reviews and examines Somali piracy, which has flourished due to the international community ignoring the growing instability in Somalia, the rampant illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. It examines the international response, the legal and economic factors and advocates that piracy be viewed as a form of economic terrorism and be combatted as such, as well as by land-based operations.

    March 2012

    The Proposed PLA Naval Base in Seychelles and India’s Options

    India must actively engage the island nations in the Western Indian Ocean and enhance the scope and deployment of the Indian Navy and its air aim in these waters.

    December 15, 2011

    Piracy in Somalia: Addressing the Root Causes

    Rampant piracy off the Somalia coast has brought the strife-ridden country back into attention. Economic hardship, and a deep resentment and anger against foreign exploitation of Somalia's maritime resources, have inspired the pirates to declare themselves 'coast guards of Somalia'. However, the growing attacks by the pirates have had an adverse impact on global commercial shipping. The international community has responded to this predicament by massive naval deployments in the Gulf of Aden.

    May 2011

    Flotsam and Jetsam: Towards Ending Somali Piracy on Shore

    Since the overthrow of its last ruler Siad Barre in 1990, Somalia's conditions have worsened and, barring a few islands of peace, are degenerating rapidly; its waves of insecurity surge beyond its shores. Piracy off Somalia is a consequence of its present volatile insecurity on shore, and 20 years of conflict resolution efforts have come to naught. As piracy increases and anti-piracy operations intensify, efforts at finding lasting peace on shore have run aground.

    March 2011

    Piracy: A Fresh Look is Essential

    A fresh look is required at the international level to deal with this scourge effectively. It is time for India to take the lead and push for a change in tack both regionally and in international fora.

    February 14, 2011