Campus & Community

Around the Schools: Harvard Kennedy School

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Last year, pirates off the coast of Somalia attacked 217 ships, hijacked 47, and snatched $60 million in ransom.

Worldwide, the zone of risk from piracy is a vast 2.5 million square miles. Ships have been waylaid as far as 1,000 miles from Somalia.

But ahoy: More than two dozen recommendations for slowing marine piracy appear in a policy brief released Jan. 26, based on a meeting held in December under the auspices of the World Peace Foundation as the Cambridge Coalition to Combat Piracy. Hosting the event was the Harvard Kennedy School, where the foundation’s president, Robert Rotberg, author of the brief, directs the Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution.

Act in four broad ways, the 38 recommendations say: Discourage piracy on land, follow piracy’s illicit cash flow, make ships harder to capture, and strengthen legal responses.

On land, for instance, create alternative employment for the 1,500 young men who are pirates. As for money: How about an international pact to cease paying ransoms?

Making ships harder to capture could include arming them, greasing hulls to discourage boarding, or just ensuring sheer speed. Ships going faster than 15 knots are hard to attack.

— Corydon Ireland