Child Pirates an increasing threat to maritime security

In an article published by Fairplay Magazine, entitled “Target: Child Pirates,” author Girjia Shettar explores the work being done by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Dalhousie Marine Piracy Project (DMPP) on the phenomenon of child maritime piracy.

It is likely no coincidence that the countries which are most afflicted by piratical activity are also home to disproportionately large youth populations. When a community is impoverished and its young inhabitants have little or no potential for socio-economic growth, the siren call of sea-based criminality can be all the more compelling.

Moreover, the Dallaire Initiative believes that children are perceived by adult pirates as being attractive recruits for many of the same reasons that the commander of an armed group would seek to recruit child soldiers. For example, children are unable to comprehend the ramifications of their actions; they pose a moral threat to their adult enemies; and until today, they are largely impervious to legal prosecution. It is for these reasons that the Dallaire Initiative and the DMPP predict a worrisome rise in the incidence of child maritime piracy wherever piratical activity presently occurs.

This coming October, the Dallaire Initiative and the DMPP will be co-hosting a roundtable to validate a series of child pirate-specific Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for maritime security actors. Such doctrinal guidance is currently lacking and in its absence, security sector actors are being subjected to elevated physical and ethical risk. It is the hope of both organisations that these ROE/SOPs will provide the international security community with new tools to protect children and to combat maritime piracy at large.

If you have any questions pertaining to the Dallaire Initiative’s work on child piracy, please contact Mr. Carl Conradi at carl@childsoldiers.org.