The problem of international naval piracy has received renewed attention in recent days, prompted by attacks on several ships, including a Saudi tanker off the coast of Somalia. Voice of America reports almost 100 ships have been attacked off of Somalia this year. Piracy, of course, is the original crime under international law, and so the subject has a special resonance for those in the field of international criminal law.
Despite the international community's centuries-old repudiation of piracy, the British navy will be ignoring acts of piracy because of concerns the pirates may have asylum claims if captured by a British ship.
Ken Anderson at Opinio Juris argues the Obama administration should be tough on piracy, and the administration's response will tell us a great deal about its attitude towards international law – and its willingness to enforce international norms. This one, as a map helpfully linked by Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy's Passport blog demonstrates, is being violated quite pervasively, and especially in the Gulf of Aden off of Somalia.
Just one more foreign policy challenge for the incoming Administration.