At the Helm: The Role of Business in Counter-piracy Governance

Rasmus Alexander Gårdnäs

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis contributes to the debate on the role of private business in global governance. It suggests that the shipping and insurance industries’ problem-solving approach to the rise in maritime piracy in the early 2000s consolidated its role as a core stakeholder in counter-piracy governance. The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) is used as a single case study, as this informal mechanism is recognized as the main governance vehicle in the international community’s response to Somali piracy. The CGPCS has had an instrumental role in legitimizing and ensuring widespread compliance with industry-produced guidance and standards. The Best Management Practice (BMP), introducing self-protective measures for a safer transit of pirate-infested waters, has arguably attained the status of soft law. So has the High Risk Area (HRA), which was designed to indicate the geographical space where the BMP should be applied, but which has become a core reference zone for a number of other processes as well. The thesis examines counter-piracy from two perspectives—first, as a political and regulatory process, then, as a spatial process—and gives an account of the practice of industry in its role as a political actor. It shows how industry practice has altered power balance between the public and private spheres, thus reproducing industry authority. The thesis contributes to the existing literature on the role of business in the organizational field of counter-piracy, emphasizing a power-relations perspective. The exploratory nature of the study opens up for further research.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages61