Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Fragmentation or Effective Governance? The Regime Complex of Counter-Piracy in Asia

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Abstract:  Asian waters have been particularly affected by a high number of piracy incidents during the last three decades. Against the backdrop of established international legal frameworks to combat piracy, states have created additional regional fora of cooperation. Existing theoretical contributions on the regime complex of counter-piracy consider this institutional framework to be highly fragmented and regard it as an impediment to effective cooperation, but empirical evidence is yet lacking. To systematically analyze the development of piracy incidents in Asia, I draw on incident data from 2001 to 2021. Results show that the effect of counter-piracy cooperation is indeed not as negative as hypothesized by the regime complex literature. However, a positive effect cannot easily be quantified either. Discussing possible explanations for this finding, I suggest that instead of unorganized fragmentation, counter-piracy governance in Asia may rather be characterized by a functional differentiation between regional cooperation mechanisms, which can be expected to be more conducive to effective cooperation.

Keywords:  Asia; institutional effectiveness; maritime crime governance; piracy; regime complexes



© Anja Menzel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.