Researching Children in Maritime Piracy


While marine piracy receives tremendous attention from international governments and media, the phenomenon of children participating in piratical activity remains wholly invisible. This issue must be recognized as a growing security and humanitarian concern with approximately 30 to 50 percent of all pirates encountered off the coast of Somalia below the age of 18.

The Dallaire Initiative is approaching its child piracy work from a deliberate security angle. The Initiative is researching the various kinds of interactions that security sector actors – including navies, law enforcement agencies, prison officers and private maritime security companies (PMSCs) – might have with child pirates. These interactions could be as benign as a conversation with a suspected child pirate or as life-threatening as a hijacking.

Based on this research, Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative’s proposed three-year project will raise critical awareness of child maritime piracy on the international stage, while placing specific emphasis upon the maritime security sector’s role in curbing this heinous crime. Given the demonstrably high prevalence of child maritime piracy in the region, the intervention will focus the majority of its efforts upon the Greater Somali Region (i.e. Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug and the Federal Government of Somalia).Our work will be based upon a solid foundation of field-based research, which will itself impart critical understanding on a phenomenon that has been widely ignored. The knowledge that is generated, coupled with our extensive expertise in the security domain, will be employed to develop practical trainings, tools and programmes for those who are acting at the front line of this issue: piracy-affected communities and the maritime security forces that have been tasked with protecting them.


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