29 September 2011, Geneva, Switzerland – UNOSAT has released a 2010 human security report elaborated by its satellite imagery analysts and GIS experts to monitor the evolution of piracy off the coast of Somali during the period 2005-2009. The report had been in circulation to selected UN and non-UN partners and agencies and is now publicly available on the web.The report focuses on Somali pirate attacks based on a detailed geospatial study of available data between 2005 and 2009. Originally, the report was conducted in support of on-going humanitarian operations in the Horn of Africa as part of UNOSAT expanding geospatial research on human security applications.

UNOSAT has been developing this type of analysis for years now and is looking for additional donor support to improve its series of piracy monitoring products with a view of covering other hot spots worldwide.

The use of GIS to organise and display existing information regarding piracy has conducted the UNOSAT team to a number of conclusions, some of which are rather new.

Key findings include:

1) ´The Piracy Big Bang´: Somali piracy underwent a qualitative transformation between 2007 and 2008 following strategic changes in their rules of engagement and the early development of an operational blue water naval capacity in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean;
2) The standard indicators commonly cited as evidence of growing international naval pressure on piracy (1. falling hijacking rates and 2. the growth of piracy in the Indian Ocean) are more complex than originally thought and less convincing as primary barometers for measuring the success of international counter-piracy efforts.
3) The observed drop in hijacking success rates must be qualified by a potential statistical bias resulting from changes in attack reporting over time, and may reflect a naturally occurring decline resulting from more aggressive pirate rules of engagement and a large influx of untrained pirate recruits. Further, a detailed spatial and temporal analysis of piracy in the Indian Ocean strongly suggests that pirate militias originally viewed their move into deep ocean waters as part of a larger expansion strategy, predating major naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

The report can be downloaded here