Bringing Pirates to Justice: A Case for Including Piracy within the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court

45 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2010 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by Yvonne Dutton

Yvonne Dutton

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: July 16, 2010


I argue that modern piracy is a serious crime of international concern that should be included within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (the "ICC") by way of an optional protocol. The increasing frequency and severity of pirate attacks is well-known to anyone watching or reading the daily news. Piracy poses a threat to the safety and security of ships and crews from around the globe, as well as to international trade, humanitarian aid deliveries, the stability of nations, and the environment. However, even though the international community seems uniquely focused on repressing piracy - by, for example, employing coordinated naval fleets to patrol pirate-infested waters - nations are doing little to ensure that those responsible for increasingly brazen and violent attacks are brought to justice. Instead, a culture of impunity reigns, with captured pirates often being released and permitted to continue their illegal activities. Nations are not prosecuting piracy suspects with any regularity: because they do not have the laws, capacity, or resources to mount such prosecutions, or because they alone do not want to bear the various burdens associated with an expensive and difficult prosecution that affects numerous nations. The attached article aims to contribute to the discussion about how to end the culture of impunity that surrounds piracy offenses. I focus specifically on judicial solutions to the problem of modern piracy, arguing that prosecuting pirates through the ICC could help to close that impunity gap. Even if all acts of piracy will not cease when pirates are shown that the international community is united to ensure they are brought to justice for their criminal acts, at least some pirates may learn that in return for their crimes they will be punished, rather than rewarded.

Keywords: Piracy, International Criminal Court

Suggested Citation

Dutton, Yvonne, Bringing Pirates to Justice: A Case for Including Piracy within the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (July 16, 2010). Chicago Journal of International Law, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 201, Summer 2010. Available at SSRN:

Yvonne Dutton (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics

Under construction: SSRN citations while be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information