Piracy-A Literary Review
“In the immediate nearness of the gold, all else had been forgotten [...], and I could not doubt that he hoped to seize upon the treasure, find and board the Hispanola under cover of night, cut every honest throat about that island, and sail away as he had at first intended, laden with crimes and riches.”
― Robert L. Stevenson. “Treasure Island”
In contemporary world, when the word “pirate “is mentioned, images of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow instantly come to mind. Media and film industry had done all possible to present image of piracy in a quite unrealistic, romanticized sense, not trying to emphasize the seriousness and make people think what is the real story behind the black flag.
Different authors have different approaches and different feelings about piracy. Let us turn back in time, and look shortly at piracy throughout history. Authors like Angus Konstam explored this from historical point of view claiming that piracy had always been an issue- connecting that one`s desire to explore, travel and use the benefits that sea has to offer. Geographical discoveries from 14th-16th centuries changed the way piracy worked. First, it widened the area in which piracy used to be a security problem. Technology, improvement in building ships, development of international market and colonialism in pre-capitalistic era n 17th century evolved into golden age of piracy. Many authors argue that changing geopolitical picture in the world, as capitalism was about to take over changed the perception of piracy as a global issue. The Holly Alliance controlled politics in Europe and most of its colonies. In their resolutions they mention certain policies that were pursued by courts of Vienna and Berlin- great punishments for piracy and securing the trade companies, as well as intercontinental trade development. That had an impact on lowering danger coming from piracy as well as changing the way of life, and creating some different security problems.
Group of scholars from University of Novi Sad argued that piracy had never disappeared, no matter how the world we live in changed and affected creating different security threats. What has changed is policies and perception of piracy. Relationship between national versus human security is really significant in explaining maritime piracy. In the past, piracy affected kingdoms, empires, governments, trade and construction companies. Piracy was in the way of colonialism, and UK, Spain, Portugal, France and Netherlands were fighting with all their means. It posed threat to a socio-economic system at the time. To be a pirate – it meant stealing, crime, death, lack of humanity, but at the same time resistance, mythology and a legend. Yet, not all of the pirates wanted to be like Robin Hood and steal in the name of poor, oppressed nations. Contemporary perception of maritime is different, so are threats it poses, and what is affected by it. Colonialism doesn’t exist today, and the way the trade and international exchange of goods functions is quite different. Group of security scholars from Essex University had claimed that compared to “real” threats in today`s world WMDs, or terrorists, piracy is not the matter of global security.
But is that really a case? Acts of piracy in the modern world are significantly increasing and pose a great threat to the safety of maritime navigation, property and human lives. Right now, issue is centered on breakdown of the legal effects of piracy. International legal aspect (especially with reference to the Convention on the Law of the Sea) has the cumulative conditions that must be satisfied for the existence of treating this international crime at sea. Particularly relevant are measures of repression by the state. UN summit proposed some changes and progress in the classical notion of piracy, in order to more effectively combat this phenomenon of contemporary crime at sea. From the point of maritime law, the authors examine the basis of international conventions and domestic law with the act of piracy cases. Scholars are suggesting bigger institutional cooperation, as well as changing and strengthening implications of law in the international waters. Second option is strengthening implications of law in domestic coastline, and their cooperation with national institutions.
So, who exactly is affected by piracy? And why doesn’t more people react to threat of piracy? Picture we get from media is that everything becomes an issue when it affects USA. Or “white USA” at least. Piracy works on the principles of chokepoints- geographically and strategically convenient regions where trade with ships is still really active, and where regulations of International law don’t work as they should. Everything can be affected by piracy today- goods, oil, people. Even ordinary tourists can be potential target , because they are source of money. Maritime piracy is being treated differently by institutions and governments, and not all of them prioritize this as security issue, or not all of them can. Piracy today is definitely more matter of economical and human security, and it is more regional than global issue. Does that still mean we will not give our best to create valid policies to resolve this issue? People`s lives are still in game, and its proven that people who get captured by pirates suffer from trauma consequences long time after.
One thing is sure, with contemporary development of piracy, there is a network of scholars and security experts and rising interest in resolving maritime piracy as security issue.
“What do you want to be a sailor for? There are greater storms in politics than you will ever find at sea. Piracy, broadsides, blood on the decks. You will find them all in politics.”
David L. George
David L. George
“Not just the Spanish Main, love. The entire ocean. The entire wo'ld. Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is...What piracy really is…. is freedom. “
Captain Jack Sparrow
“Pirate Wars” Peter Earle, Methuen – London, 1973
“Piracy- the complete history” Angus Kostnam Osprey Publishing; First UK edition (August 19, 2008)
“International law” Rodoljub Etinski , JP “Sluzbeni glasnik” , 2010