Two Champions Killed in Battle Against Piracy

Published Apr 9, 2014 5:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

A Briton and a Frenchman working for the United Nations were shot dead on Monday at an airport in north central Somalia.

A United Nations mission spokesman told media said it was not clear who was behind the killings, but piracy expert Dr Christian Bueger believes the men may have been targeted because of their anti-piracy mission.

Bueger, Lecturer in International Relations and Principal investigator of an ESRC funded project on piracy at Cardiff University, said: “The killings are a bitter blow in the fight against piracy in Somalia. The two men both worked tirelessly to make Somlia a safer and better place to live through their work with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC). The agency’s program on piracy has helped strengthen the rule of law, refurbished prisons, and to persecute and justly try pirates. Some 1,200 pirates are sentenced or awaiting trial worldwide. Since 2012 there has not been a successful hijacking off the coast of Somalia. This success story would not have been possible without the work of Mr David and Mr Gorissen.

“While many assume the fight against Somali piracy is over, and Somalia is on its way to stability and prosperity, the murders send a strong warning that this is not the case. The financiers and organizers of piracy go unpunished. Even in Somalia, murders do not happen randomly. It is likely the men were targeted because of their mission. The attack is not only an attack on two Westerners but an attack on the international community and its attempt to eradicate piracy. 

“Clement Gorissen was one of the authors of the highly 2012 acclaimed report, Pirate Trails, which provided a detailed evidence-based analysis of the money flows of piracy. I met him in November 2013 in Djibouti when he was presenting the report at the Counter Piracy week of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, the international governance body steering the fight against piracy. He was a talented young man with a sharp mind writing a Doctoral thesis in Criminology alongside his work for UNODC. I was assured that the outstanding academic quality and evidence base of the Pirate Trails report was not the least because of his skills and efforts. His death is not only a loss for the international community but also for the academic community trying to understand and analyze piracy.

“The attack sends a strong message that the fight against piracy will not soon be over. As a 2013 report by the UN monitoring group has shown, pirate lords have not gone out of business, but into other illicit businesses such as trafficking and smuggling. If the organizers and financiers of piracy are not persecuted, the likelihood that we will see a new round of Somali piracy once the international naval missions withdraw from the region in 2016 remains high.”