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UN Calls For New Approach To Tackling Piracy

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

22 November 2012

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has called on nations to adopt a "multi-dimensional approach," to stamp out the threat of robbery and hijackings on the world's shipping fleet.

He highlighted the fact that the latest report on piracy activity from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) had shown a dramatic decline in the number of attacks against ships during the first ten months of the year in 2012 (293), against the same period last year, particularly off Somalia. New piracy hot spots are emerging however, and attacks continue to occur off West and East Africa and in the Far East.

Moon warned that although progress had been made in Somalia, the gains achieved "could easily be reversed if [stakeholders] do not address the causes of piracy, including instability, lawlessness and problems of effective governance."

He observed that although piracy is a global problem, it takes different forms: "Off the coast of Somalia, pirates are well organized, hijacking ships and crews to hold them for ransom. In the Gulf of Guinea, piracy is related to the theft of oil and linked with the regional black market and organized crime. While hostages have been taken, ransoms do not appear to be the driving goal. There are also differences in the political and governance context that contributed to the rise of piracy in these areas."

"Still, our response in the Gulf of Guinea and elsewhere can rely on the lessons learned from Somalia, including a focus on modernizing counter-piracy laws, strengthening capacities for maritime law enforcement and crime investigation, supporting regional networks, as well as knowledge sharing. Combating piracy requires a multidimensional approach," he added.

"In Somalia, this has meant stabilizing the country through a Somali-owned process. The new President of Somalia has made an impressive start, but challenges remain significant. We need to move swiftly to support the government so that it finally can provide the security and peace Somalis deserve. We welcome the government's commitment to combating piracy, as stated in the program just endorsed by Parliament," the Secretary General said.

Discussing how to tackle emerging piracy hot spots, he emphasized the need "to strengthen the capacity of states to prosecute individuals suspected of piracy and to imprison convicted pirates. That effort must include deterring and suppressing the financing of piracy and the laundering of ransom money."

"The shipping industry should be encouraged to take steps to protect itself, he continued. "20% of vessels transiting high-risk waters do not implement security measures, and those vessels account for the overwhelming number of successfully pirated ships. IMO is closely working with the industry on a variety of measures and best practices that have prevented pirates from boarding vessels and enabled rescues."

He noted that going forward the IMO's work to establish a framework governing the use of privately contracted armed security personnel on board vessels is a critical component to mitigating the threat of piracy, and he called for stakeholders to push for improved prosecution and imprisonment rates to deter those engaging in piracy activities.

TAGS: marine

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