Naval Peacekeeping and Piracy: Time for a Critical Turn in the Debate

Although peacekeeping operations on the ocean have never held a central position in security studies or peace and conflict studies, a small body of work has been produced on what has been called ‘naval peacekeeping’. This article argues that empirical insights provided by intervention against piracy in the Horn of Africa from 2008 suggest a critical turn in the naval peacekeeping debate, from a perspective primarily concerned with identifying unconventional threats at sea and justifying new roles for navies in addressing such threats, to a new perspective concerned with a critical vision on peace and security on the oceans and a more reflexive approach to the notion of peacekeeping at sea. The naval peacekeeping debate needs to encompass such factors as the origins and connections of ocean governance to land-based structural roots, local, regional and global dynamics, as well as historical conditions underlying the problems at sea.