Blackbeard, Bin Laden and international law

One law to arrest them all

In India as in the United States and Britain, special anti-terror laws have drawn criticism from civil rights advocates. But, as Kunal Sawardekar points out over at the Ceteris Paribus blog, an age-old law designed to tackle piracy on the high seas can well be applied against international terrorists.

Terrorists = Pirates?! It really seems loony. Osama bin Laden is nothing like Blackbeard (except for, well, the beard). Or is he?

Strange as it may sound, there actually seems to be a lot of correlation between 18th Century piracy and 20th Century terror.

…piracy quickly became the scourge of the seafaring European powers that practically controlled the entire world. Realising that piracy could not be individually tackled by these powers, they banded together in an agreement codified in the Declaration of Paris, which remains the basis of anti-piracy legislation even today. The signatories, recognising their complicity in the scourge of piracy, resolved to rid the world of it. They made piracy a crime of and by itself, which means that you did not have to loot or kill on the high seas to be punished, membership of a pirate band was enough. It was the responsibility of every country to catch and punish pirates as they were found, regardless of the location of their crimes. The European states were so successful that piracy was eradicated from almost all the world’s seas, and only endures today in isolated pockets. [Ceteris Paribus emphasis added]