08 November 2017

Naval Campaign Waging War on Piracy Continues to Protect Vessels from Container Ships to Tankers  

UN Votes for Extension of Successful Policy of Deterrence and Interception

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Shipping News Feature SOMALIA – WORLDWIDE – Condemning the acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia, the United Nations Security Council has called for a comprehensive response to prevent and suppress such acts and tackle their underlying causes. Incidents of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of the East African country have fallen in recent years, a decline which has been attributed to more than the counter piracy effects from private security guards and self-protection measures on board tankers, container ships and other vessels transiting the area.

In a resolution adopted on November 7, the 15-member Council renewed for another year its authorisation for international naval forces to join together fighting piracy off Somalia’s coast, underscoring that such crime exacerbated instability in the country and fuelled corruption and terrorism. The UK is host to the European Union Operational HQ, the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) situated in the EUNAVFOR Command Headquarters at Northwood, and a visit gives one an idea of how the technology utilised there is essential in policing the 3.2 million square miles of ocean effectively.

This part, quietly played by the combined operation, was appreciated by the Council which commended the contributions of the European Union’s Naval Force Operation ATALANTA, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Operation Ocean Shield, the Combined Maritime Forces’ Combined Task Force 151, the African Union and the Southern Africa Development Community, as well as individual States for naval counter‑piracy missions and protecting ships transiting through the region.

The Council recognised the need to continue investigating and prosecuting those who plan, organise, or illicitly finance or profit from pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, including key figures of criminal networks involved in piracy. It also urged States, working in conjunction with relevant international organisations, to adopt legislation to facilitate prosecution of suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The Council also reaffirmed that the authorisations renewed in the resolution applied only with respect to the situation in Somalia and did not affect rights, obligations and responsibilities of Member States under international law, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea. After adoption, Evgeny T. Zagaynov (Russian Federation) said that he had supported the resolution but noted it had a regional focus, commenting:

“The fight against piracy required a more global format, with more common approaches to fight piracy, including prosecution of pirates. The most successful platform for that was the Contact Group to Fight Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Piracy was an engine for terrorism and illegal weapons trafficking and pirates were frequently incriminated in other crimes. It would be wise to consider optimal means to counter such threats. The Council must continue to play a political role in the fight.”

Earlier this year, Somali pirates successfully hijacked their first commercial vessel in 5 years which led to a small resurgence of pirate-related incidents with security analysts Control Risks putting the number at 17 recorded incidents by June.

Abukar Dahir Osman, representing Somalia said that his Government was working hard on tackling the piracy and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone. That problem adversely impacted Somalia and was depleting seafood resources through illegal fishing by foreign companies. The root causes of piracy and such fishing were poor state control, the lack of legal economic opportunities and the absence of the rule of law. Although piracy had declined, it could easily escalate again.

He reiterated that renewal of the current mandate to fight piracy could only be effective if it addressed the devastation from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. He encouraged more research in the complex link between piracy and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Many critics claim that the devastation of the local fishing industry, on which many coastal families depend for their livelihoods, was the initial cause of piracy, driving competent mariners out in their skiffs searching for a living.

Certainly piracy in Somalia demonstrates a complex set of problems, a mix of a collapsed area of the economy, religious fundamentalists seeking to gain an advantage, hardened criminal gangs and more. What is certain that with Brexit looming on the horizon the combined effort from international naval forces, which has at times seen frequently unwilling partners, and indeed even historical enmity, put aside to work cooperatively against the criminals, must continue unabated.

Editors Note: For those not familiar with the bloody history of the Somalia pirate scourge simply type pirate or Somalia into the News Search box at the head of any page.

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