The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution authorising for the first time international operations against pirates on land in Somalia.
The United States-sponsored resolution empowers countries already involved in fighting piracy to take all appropriate and necessary measures, including operations on land in Somalia.
The resolution is the fourth approved by the council since June to combat rampant piracy off Somalia's coast.
Somali pirates hold at least 17 ships, including an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo vessel and a Saudi supertanker carrying two million barrels of crude oil.
NATO and a number of individual countries have naval forces in the region but attacks continue.
The pirates have carried out more than 100 attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean since the start of 2008.