Professor presents analysis of international law’s response to Somali pirate attacks

Published: March 21st, 2011

Category: News

Professor Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law who specializes in constitutional and international law, presented an analysis Wednesday of international law's response to the Somali pirate attacks. (Photo by Nicole Safker)

Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law presented an analysis of international law’s regulation of the Somali pirate attacks March 16. University of Florida Law Professor Steven Willis offered commentary after the presentation.

“Piracy is the classic, original, international crime,” Kontorovich said. Rates of pirate attacks doubled in 2008, doubled again in 2009, and have increased since then, Kontorovich said.

These increases are despite the international community’s unprecedented show of naval cooperation. Vessels of over 40 nations are all there trying to bring safety to the high seas.

Although this sounds very promising, the results have “been basically zero,” Kontorovich said.

Kontorovich asserted, and Willis agreed, that allowing ships to carry arms could solve many of the piracy issues.

“No armed vessel has successfully been taken by pirates,” Kontorovich said. “Somali pirates are in these rickety boats and don’t inherently have the upper hand.”

Professor Kontorovich specializes in constitutional and international law at Northwestern. He is a leading expert on maritime piracy and universal jurisdiction, and has been called on to advise lawyers in historic piracy trials around the world. Currently, Kontorovich is writing a book, Justice at Sea: Piracy and the Limits of International Criminal Law.

The University of Florida Federalist Society presented the lecture.