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3rd February 2010, 11:40am
Solution to Somalian piracy must be found on dry land
Map of Somalia The threat posed by Somali pirates to vessels in the Indian Ocean cannot be tackled by naval power and a long-term solution will only be found on dry land, according to an internationally-recognised expert on maritime law.

Professor Scott Davidson, from the University of Lincoln, said the scourge of piracy could only be fought effectively by a stable Somalian government which is able and willing to apply the rule of law across its territory.

He will describe the various legal, political, economic and social factors that have combined to allow piracy to thrive in Somalia in a free public lecture at the University of Lincoln.

"The major problem is that Somalia is a failed state. It does not have a central government able to exercise authority across its territory, including its maritime territory. History has shown us that when this occurs, there is little likelihood of piracy being effectively combated at sea," said Professor Davidson.
"The main battle against piracy has to be shore-based. Pirates need a base from which to operate, somewhere to bunker their ships and hold their hostages. They need outlets for the sale of goods they have stolen.
"Even through there is a NATO protection force off the coast of Somalia which operates designated protective shipping routes, it is really impossible for NATO to effectively patrol millions of square miles of water.
"In a broad sense a solution has to be a legal one. There has to be a restoration of legal government in Somalia which enables the authorities to gain control over their territory and apply the law throughout it."

Professor Davidson, pro vice-chancellor at the University of Lincoln, has published numerous books and articles on international law and the law of the sea. The son of a master mariner, he has held an interest in the sea throughout his life. He is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and holds a Doctor of Laws from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He has taught international law at the universities of Hull (UK), Canterbury (NZ) and Auckland (NZ). He is a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law and several other international law journals. He was a council member of the Maritime Cooperation Working Group of the Council for Security and Cooperation in Asia Pacific.

Professor Scott Davidson's Lincoln Academy Lecture, 'The Law of Maritime Piracy: All At Sea', takes place on Tuesday 23 February, starting at 6pm in the EMMTEC building, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool campus, Lincoln, LN6 7TS. Admission is free but people should pre-register their attendance by contacting the University's Events Office on 01522 837100 or email

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