Child Soldiers Initiative releases report on Piracy

The Child Soldiers Initiative, directed by Dr. Shelly Whitman at Dalhousie University, has released a groundbreaking report entitled Children and Youth in Marine Piracy: Causes, Consequences and the Way Forward.  The report can be downloaded from their website under Publications or by going directly to the document here. The report is a product of the Dalhousie Marine Piracy Project (DMPP); a collaboration between the Marine Affairs Program, the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies' Maritime Security Policy Program and the Child Soldiers Initiative.  The TK Foundation provided funding for the two-year project.

The presence of children under 18 years of age in pirate gangs poses a legal, social and operational problem to those attempting to address piracy globally. This paper highlights some of these problems, and makes several recommendations.

The introduction to the report provides the following general assessment:

Piracy appears to develop where weak or non-existent government and enforcement capabilities, impoverished coastal communities, and shipping targets exist in relatively close proximity. Other elements such as organized criminality, youth unemployment, political conflict and even natural disasters may also contribute to the likelihood of piracy emerging as a major threat to shipping in a particular region. The DMPP has examined the economic, political and social conditions, which have led to contemporary outbreaks of piracy with the intention of identifying and evaluating the effectiveness of current and proposed responses to piracy.

 The report finds a critical gap in the collection and analysis of data concerning the employment of children and youth in pirate gangs.

The report is written with the following three key objectives:

(i)     to raise the awareness of the failure to address the question of the involvement of children and youth by those involved in either studying or addressing piracy;

(ii)     to provide a rationale for the collection and accessibility of disaggregated data on those committing piracy by those who are capturing, releasing, reporting and prosecuting those involved in piracy activity; and

(iii)     to provide possible alternatives to addressing marine piracy by focusing on the challenges posed by the involvement of children and youth.