Over the past decade, the western Indian Ocean unexpectedly emerged as a hotbed for maritime crime as pirates -- safe-havened in Somalia -- menaced seafarers as far east as the Maldives. Shipping companies have been hit hard, with one estimate placing the direct costs of Somali piracy at $5.5 billion in 2011. Despite a multinational naval flotilla deployed to counter the pirates, attacks continued to grow last year.
The discussion of Somali piracy predominately characterizes it as an aberration -- a situation made possible by a failed Somali state that abuts a major shipping route. Viewed through such a prism, there is little chance that Somali-style piracy will emerge in any other region.
However, it is not only opportunity and the government’s inability to enforce the rule of law that facilitates the pirates’ success: Their conceptually innovative approach has also contributed to their booming business.