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Reconsidering the Letter of Marque: Utilizing Private Security Providers Against Piracy


Theodore T. Richard


United States Air Force

April 1, 2010

Public Contract Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 411-464, Spring 2010

Abstract:     
This article examines how letters of marque could be revived to effectively empower the private sector to assist governments in dealing with modern piracy. It examines Somali piracy, the development and different uses of letters of marque and privateers, the current legal framework relating to piracy, Somalia’s decade-long experience with maritime security contractors, the use of maritime contractors outside of Somalia, and addresses concerns involving private maritime security. The article concludes that unless governments provide security everywhere and all the time, the market will demand private security. Governments can effectively manage and control this security in the maritime environment without inventing a new legal scheme out of whole cloth: letters of marque can provide authorization, regulation, and accountability.

The author received the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law Keithe E. Nelson Distinguished Service Award for this paper.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 54

Keywords: Piracy, Pirate, Privateer, Letter of Marque, Mercenary, Somalia, Private Security, Security Contractor, Maritime Security, Law of the Sea, UNCLOS

JEL Classification: H56, H57, K23, K33, L33

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Date posted: April 16, 2010 ; Last revised: August 2, 2011

Suggested Citation

Richard, Theodore T., Reconsidering the Letter of Marque: Utilizing Private Security Providers Against Piracy (April 1, 2010). Public Contract Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 411-464, Spring 2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1591039

Contact Information

Theodore T. Richard (Contact Author)
United States Air Force ( email )
Washington, DC
United States
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