Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Timothy Nordstrom

Relational Format



For thousands of years, pirates have been a menace on the seas, yet somehow, they have also inspired generations of authors and directors to romanticize and trivialize their plundering in literature and film. Although piracy has generally decreased around the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere and European waters, it remains a global peril that continues to jeopardize maritime security and the commercial shipping industry. The economic impact of piracy may be on the decline; however, in 2017 alone, the economic toll of piracy in East Africa was $1.4 billion, which excludes West Africa, Southeastern Asia, and the Caribbean, all locations were piracy remains a critical hazard (Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2017). States are faced with two options when it comes to combating piracy: enact domestic legislation and join international institutions that address piracy. By examining these two paths in greater detail, this thesis will attempt to answer my hypothesis: the empirical question of whether or not states with increasing numbers of piracy incidents and attacks will join more piracy-oriented treaties. To do so, I will explore what contemporary piracy looks like, as well as provide a brief overview of how international institutions work and what piracy-oriented treaties look like in practice. In order to test my hypothesis, I have modified a data set from Brandon Prins’ Mapping Maritime Piracy Project by adding additional variables and collapsing the data. I ran several bivariate correlations and regressions between piracy and treaty participation variables. Nevertheless, no support was determined for my hypothesis, so I decided to analyze two case studies to further explore the relationship between piracy and treaty participation. This thesis concludes that international institutions may still be an effective tool to combat maritime piracy, but in the future, this problem may be best solved by a supranational body dedicated to alone to the elimination of piracy.



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