Regional cooperation as part of the solution to piracy – the importance of ReCAAP in Southeast Asia
Sammanfattning: Piracy is not given very much attention in the western part of the world – there is not many news about it in the medias, and it is not very high prioritized on the politicians’ agenda. However, this does not indicate that it is not a problem. Piracy affects many people, at an individual level as well as at a national, regional and global level. The problem is complex and has long history, not least in Southeast Asia where reports concerning pirates started circulating around 500 AD and is still relevant today. The affected states have not been able to solve the problem on their own and the international conventions are poor when it comes to the modern type of piracy, which is mostly carried out in territorial waters where The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is not applicable. This has resulted in discussions regarding alternative solutions and one of those solutions is regional cooperation. The states affected by piracy are often relatively weak states from a socio-economic perspective and it is hard for them to allocate adequate resources in order to control their territorial waters, spread information, legislate, arrest and prosecute pirates. This is especially evident in Southeast Asia where the national boundaries are floating and the geography is beneficial for pirates with its narrow straits and islands. Following an initiative from Japan, a number of Asian countries created and formed The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in order to join hands in combating piracy in the region. ReCAAP came into force in 2006 and has been considered a successful cooperation and has worked as a template for the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which is a similar cooperation in East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. The majority can probably agree on ReCAAP being a good first step for the region but there are unfortunately some weaknesses in the cooperation and how the signatory parties have incorporated the ReCAAP agreement in to their national legislation. Vietnam has been a part of the cooperation since the start but is not contributing financially, they lack specific anti-piracy laws and the incorporation, which is a recognized problem in Vietnam, is not satisfactory. ReCAAP is a great initiative and the signatory parties are expected to grow, which will give the cooperation even more credibility. If some of the bigger weaknesses in the cooperation can be sorted out, then regional cooperation is definitely an important part of the solution to piracy in Southeast Asia.
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