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Somalia study changes policy on piracy

Stopping Somali piracy by focusing on the communities that protect them is central to policy-changing research into the problem.

Dr Anja Shortland’s study into piracy ransom money and how it serves to boost the Somali economy has been featured on the BBC News and CNN, and led to a paradigm shift from focusing on the perpetrators of the crime to those who let it happen.

With little previous reliable economic data from Somalia, Dr Shortland’s research was able to show for the first time that reliable supply lines were essential for the Somali piracy model to operate effectively.

This suggested that some coastal communities and the country’s powerful clan structure might have a financial incentive to resist efforts to stop piracy.

Through presentations to policy-makers and media coverage, Dr Shortland’s ideas have been vital in improving understanding of the issue of piracy and shaped the World Bank’s 2013 report on Somali piracy.

The research has been used to inform commanding officers of the Royal Navy, European Union and Nato, while Dr Shortland presented her work on the community-level implications of piracy at a cross-Whitehall meeting hosted by the Cabinet Office and to SAS commanders in 2011, and to Chatham House and World Bank staff in 2012.

In March 2012 Dr Shortland joined an international team of experts writing the World Bank’s flagship report on Somali piracy, led by the Africa Region’s Chief Economist’s Office, for which her research into coastal communities offering protection was a vital element. The World Bank went on to launch the piracy report in Mogadishu in April 2013 – the first public event of its re-engagement process with the country.