In Race between Pirates and International Community, Pirates Clearly Winning, Secretary-General’s Top Legal Adviser on Piracy Warns Security Council
In Race between Pirates and International Community, Pirates Clearly Winning, Secretary-General’s Top Legal Adviser on Piracy Warns Security Council
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6473rd Meeting (AM)
In Race between Pirates and International Community, Pirates Clearly Winning,
Secretary-General’s Top Legal Adviser on Piracy Warns Security Council
Pirates Expanding Geographic Reach in More Sophisticated, Better Organized
Attacks, Says Jack Lang, Seeking Prosecution of Sea-borne Raids in Domestic Courts
As pirates tightened their grip in the waters off the Somali coast and surrounding Indian Ocean, the Secretary-General’s top adviser on the legal issues related to that menace proposed a series of far-reaching measures to the Security Council today on how to lift the legal constraints to prosecute and imprison the pirates and criminalize their sea-borne raids in all States.
“The situation is serious. I would even say it’s worsening,” said Special Adviser Jack Lang, warning that the pirates, whose activities had reportedly reached record levels last year, were becoming “the masters” of the Indian Ocean. In the race between the some 1,500 pirates and the international community, the pirates were clearly winning, he said.
Stressing the urgency for action, Mr. Lang, in place since August 2010, informed the Council that pirate attacks were increasingly sophisticated and better organized, relying more and more on complex Global Positioning Systems and heavy weaponry, as well as simulated executions, intermediaries, interpreters and even private companies to take hostages and negotiate ransoms. Additionally, insurance costs for shippers transiting the area had risen exponentially, as hostages were being detained for longer periods.
Not only were pirates expanding their geographic reach, but their penetration of the local Somali economy was deepening, exacerbating the international community’s already difficult task of providing food aid to millions of dependent Somalis, he said. Moreover, 90 per cent of all pirates captured by national navies were released because no States were prepared to accept them and no jurisdiction was prepared to prosecute them.
To rectify that, he proposed setting up two specialized jurisdictions in Puntland and Somaliland to try pirates and two prisons there to hold them, as well as a Somali court in Arusha, in northern United Republic of Tanzania, during the transition, which would later be transferred to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. He said the Tanzanian President was open to the latter proposal. The $25 million price tag to construct the new facilities was small in comparison to the current cost of piracy today — between $5 billion to $7 billion in the Indian Ocean.
It was also crucial to go after pirate leaders by bolstering forensic police work and other efforts to track and document pirates’ movement and financial activities, as well as to provide young Somalis with an alternative livelihood to piracy by developing economically depressed areas, particularly in Bossaso in Puntland, and Berbera in Somaliland, he said.
Worried that piracy’s nascent links to terrorism could strengthen should pirates penetrate further south, he called on the Council to adopt a “clear, robust, determined resolution” to encourage anti—piracy and facilitate large sums of money towards that goal.
Following Mr. Lang’s remarks, Stephen Mathias, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, said the Secretary-General was reviewing the proposals set out in the Special Adviser’s report. The United Nations would help build the capacity of the proposed specialized chambers in Puntland and Somaliland, but it would not select international judges or prosecutors to sit on them. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was already supporting national prosecutions in Somalia’s various regions and working to set up the special courts.
The key to increasing the number of States able to prosecute acts of piracy, he felt, lay in national implementation of the international legal regime set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in Council resolutions, notably resolution 1950 (2010) for all States to criminalize piracy under domestic law and prevent its financing, as well as States’ political will to take on prosecutions. The Djibouti Code of Conduct, which aimed to repress piracy against ships in the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, was also important for regional cooperation. Apprehension, detention, prosecution and imprisonment must occur in line with a State’s international human rights obligations.
Somalia’s representative said the Special Adviser’s proposals were “very viable and to the point” and required immediate action. He called on the Council to support them, arguing that the requisite funds for implementation were “minor” compared to what had been spent on the high seas overall. Since 29 March 2010, more than 30 vessels had been attacked and 699 people taken hostage. Quick action was needed to enable regional authorities and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government to police and monitor all coastal areas from where piracy emanated.
Several Council members took the floor to support the proposals for specialized piracy courts in the region, more targeted cooperation between Somalia and Puntland, and regional economic development programmes to discourage piracy as a means of economic livelihood. Making piracy a crime of universal jurisdiction in domestic law, and bolstering and better funding regional prevention, prosecution and incarceration efforts were crucial to stamping out the menace. Some speakers, however, questioned the ability to create the proposed de-localized Somali court in the United Republic of Tanzania within the agreed timeframe.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Russian Federation, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, Portugal, Colombia, France, Nigeria, India, China, Lebanon, Gabon and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and adjourned at 12:33 p.m.
For its consideration of the situation in Somalia, the Security Council had before it a letter dated 24 January 2011 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council, transmitting the Report of the Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (document S/2011/30).
At the outset of the meeting, the Council observed a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the terrorist act perpetrated at Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow on 24 January, and expressed its condolences to the victims’ families.
JACK LANG, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, commended the Secretary-General’s work on the seven options examined by the Council at the end of August to address piracy. Following his appointment in August, Mr. Lang had held numerous consultations with 50 States, international organizations, private companies and research institutions, notably in Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland. He had visited prisons and met with detained pirates in Somalia, Kenya and Mombassa.
“The situation is serious. I would even say it’s worsening,” he said, noting the increasing number of pirates and sophisticated pirate techniques, different mother ships, GPS and heavy weaponry, more organized attacks and captures, and negotiation of the ransom, as well as intermediaries, negotiators and interpreters to support piracy. He also drew attention to increased violence, simulated executions, and the use of private companies to take hostages. People were being detained for longer periods of time, from 120 days to up to one year, and pirates were expanding their geographic reach down to Mozambique and up to 150 kilometres off the Somali coast.
Pirates were becoming “the masters” of the Indian Ocean, he said. The some 2,000 people taken hostage in the last two years were often used as human shields to carry out other attacks. The lack of revenue and security over the energy sector were fuelling the piracy trade. Pirates had penetrated the local economy, exacerbating the already difficult challenge of providing food aid, on which 27 per cent of the Somali population depended.
He said that 22,000 ships crossed the channel annually, and that there had been an astonishing rise in the cost of insurance to transit what was now a high-risk area. In the race between the pirates and the international community, the pirates were progressively winning. It was difficult to accept that the international community was so affected by 1,500 people.
The situation’s extreme seriousness required urgent remedies, he said, adding that his plan focused on how to improve the current situation and provide effective solutions. He proposed a series of measures to lift the legal obstacles to prosecuting and imprisoning pirates; incorporate the crime of piracy in domestic law in all States; and adapt every situation to operational constraints.
He proposed making it easier to give testimony by video or video conference in order to facilitate evidence. It was crucial to address the lack of penitentiary capacity, which was a significant obstacle in many States. Remarkable work was already being carried out by national navies in Kenya, Seychelles and Mauritius. But even improvements in that regard would face difficulties in eradicating piracy. Nine out of 10 pirates captured by national navies had to be released because no States were prepared to accept them and no jurisdiction was prepared to prosecute them. That situation had prompted Mr. Lang to search for other options. His consultations enabled him to focus on the key idea that the “Somaliazation” of the anti-piracy process was necessary, whereby Somalia was legally responsible for ensuring effective prosecution to end impunity.
Somalia was the main source and victim of piracy, he said. Its population was increasingly hostile to piracy because of its links to drugs and prostitution. The affected population’s support to combat piracy was important. He suggested a real plan with Somaliland and Puntland, which incorporated reciprocal commitments by local and regional authorities and the support of the international community. Somaliland had already indicated its commitment to that, and Puntland had taken initial arrest measures and informed Mr. Lang in writing of its commitment. It was also essential to go after the leaders of pirate gangs. Not enough had been done even though the names of a dozen of the gang leaders were known.
He noted the proposals in the report, including strengthening the forensic police; collecting elements for investigation, such as fingerprints and DNA from boats released, the numbers of the pirates’ mother ships and bank notes; and systematically documenting the management of the financial flow of pirates. Another called for individual sanctions against those ordering attacks and whose names were well known. “It is very important that these kingpins be tackled,” he said. The “foot soldiers” of piracy must see that the anti-piracy plan included prevention and clampdown measures.
Also “absolutely crucial” was “to give young Somalis an alternative to piracy”, he said, stressing the need for dynamic economic development in Bossaso in Puntland, and Berbera in Somaliland, specifically in the export, telecommunications and fisheries industries.
To date, there were no defined legal limits governing the territorial waters or maritime borders between different States in the region, and that must change, he stressed. He noted the harm caused by illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping in the waters, and recommended that an international expert committee carry out an analysis of the situation, as well as a monitoring of the coast, creating police stations in pirates’ villages and training coast guards who could monitor from land the departure of suspects’ boats. He also suggested setting up two specialized jurisdictions in Puntland and Somaliland. The President of the United Republic of Tanzania was open to the proposal of setting up a Somali court in Arusha during the transition period and then later transferring it to Mogadishu.
Mr. Lang said it was possible to build prison capacity for suspects tried in Somalia or Kenya. The UNODC was proposing creation of a double control system to ensure that the prisons ran smoothly and installation of a UNODC office within the prisons to monitor the situation. UNODC had also proposed external monitoring to carry out regular checks by a surveillance committee. Another suggestion was to have a farm in each prison to train prisoners in farming. It was also necessary to train prison advocates, staff and judges, to which the African Union, United Nations, European Union and others must contribute.
According to a UNODC evaluation, it would cost $25 million over three years to construct two prisons and two jurisdictional capacities in Puntland and Somaliland, as well as the Arusha court, he said. That was inexpensive compared to the current cost of piracy today, which was between $5 billion and $7 billion in the Indian Ocean, if one included the extra cost of naval forces and the loss of revenue of countries in the area in tourism, ports, trade and transport. The already high cost of piracy would increase in the next few years. Modest intervention would tame, but not eradicate the problem, and be costly for international organizations, in both human and political terms.
He called for a look beyond the current situation to the nascent links between piracy and terrorism in Somalia. Should piracy expand south, it could fuel terrorism. He encouraged the Council to adopt a clear, robust, determined resolution to encourage anti—piracy and facilitate large sums of money towards that goal. “Please do act quickly, act firmly,” he said.
STEPHEN MATHIAS, Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, noting that the Special Adviser’s report was being reviewed by the Secretary-General and his advisers, commented on some of the legal aspects of the recommendations and also referred Council members to the Secretary-General’s report of 26 July 2010, which dealt with some of the same issues.
In that context, he first discussed the international legal framework applicable to piracy, recalling that the framework had been set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and, in the context of Somalia, had been complemented by various Security Council resolutions. The Djibouti Code of Conduct, which aimed to repress piracy against ships in the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, was also important for regional cooperation. Apprehension, detention, prosecution and imprisonment must all take place in line with a State’s international human rights obligations.
Indeed, the Convention and customary international law provided for universal jurisdiction over piracy, he said, meaning that all States were entitled to take criminal jurisdiction over piracy no matter where it occurred, or the nationality of the suspect or victim. The key to increasing the number of States able to prosecute acts of piracy lay in national implementation of that international legal regime and the will to take on prosecutions. That was consistent with the call in Security Council resolution 1950 (2010) for all States to criminalize piracy under their domestic law. Turning to the recommendations to increase prison capacity in Somalia and for establishing a new court system, he said specialized courts in Puntland and Somaliland, as proposed by the Special Adviser, would be “special chambers”, sitting within a national jurisdiction.
Those specialized chambers, he said, would receive capacity-building assistance, but would not have United Nations “participation through [United Nations]-selected international judges or prosecutors”. They would, therefore, fall under option 3 as set out in the Secretary-General’s report. That report identifies various potential advantages and disadvantages of such special chambers, and his understanding was that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was already supporting national prosecutions in the regions of Somalia and working towards the establishment of such special courts. The proposal for an extraterritorial specialized court, applying Somali law, to sit in a third country in the region, would fall under option 2 of the report.
ELMI AHMED DUALE (Somalia) said he hoped to study the Special Adviser’s important proposals and options, which were “very viable and to the point” and required immediate action. The piracy problem had been around a long time. Unfortunately, the funds required to implement the recommendations were “minor” compared to what had been spent on the high seas overall. Underscoring the problems that piracy was creating in Somali communities, he said quick action was required to enable regional authorities and the Transitional Federal Government to police and monitor all coastal areas from where piracy emanated.
Indeed, since 29 March 2010 to date, there had been more than 30 vessels and 699 hostages taken, he said, which created a humanitarian situation for all involved, especially the families of those unlawfully detained by pirates. “Action should be taken as quickly as possible,” he stressed, not only by the Security Council, but by the international community as a whole. With that, he expressed hope that the Council would support the Secretary-General’s report and the recommendations of the Special Adviser.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said his Government shared the Special Adviser’s assessment. Piracy had taken on the characteristics of a “chronic disease” and was expanding with speed. Indeed, 2010 had been a record year, with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reporting that 49 vessels had been hijacked in the Horn of Africa alone. His Government was very concerned that, recently, off the Seychelles in territorial waters to be controlled by naval forces, a ship flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda had been hijacked. Some of its crew were Russians. Piracy had impacted the world economy in the billions of dollars. The root causes must be tackled, including the lack of stability in Somalia. Piracy was no longer a consequence of that country’s fragmentation; it had become self-sustaining, with the impunity of pirates, and the kingpins behind them, posing a real problem.
To improve the situation, a breakthrough was needed, he said, noting that the Special Adviser’s recommendations provided a serious basis in that regard. Focus was needed on instruments to fight piracy. New measures should centre on the solid foundation of work already carried out. The Russian Federation contributed to combating piracy and, at the end December 2010, the fifth ranking of the Russian detachment of the Pacific fleet had sailed into the Gulf of Aden. Also in 2010, Russian military vessels had accompanied those of the World Food Programme (WFP). A range of efforts was needed, focused on the political, social, economic and law enforcement spheres. Ninety per cent of those detained following piracy acts had been released, and there was a lack of mechanisms to prosecute pirates. The option of setting up two special courts and an extraterritorial court deserved attention. Good examples of assisting national courts could be found in Kenya and Seychelles.
SUSAN RICE (United States) said solutions to piracy must be found on land and at sea. Captured crews were used as human shields and held for ransom. Piracy thwarted the delivery of humanitarian aid and fuelled the growth of organized crime and terrorism. The Contact Group had proved to be an effective and efficient forum, but much more must be done. As noted in the report, vessel security plans were needed to reduce the rate of pirate attacks, as were international safety management codes to ensure that vessels followed best practices in that regard. She encouraged nations to continue to patrol ships off the Somali coast. She supported the report’s recommendation for more targeted cooperation between Somalia and Puntland. She also supported a wide range of economic development programmes, including microcredit and good governance initiatives. Prevention, prosecution and incarceration were essential elements of any anti-piracy initiative. All States must criminalize piracy, as defined by the Law of the Sea Convention.
She agreed with the report’s encouragement for piracy victims to testify against their attackers. She called for pursuing prosecution in domestic courts, and increasing States’ ability to do so. She called for developing one or more reliable practical solutions to obstacles to prosecution in the region, and supporting regional States’ efforts to try pirates in the national courts. Doing so would ensure judicial consequences for piracy. She called for strengthening existing regional prosecution programmes. She supported the report’s recommendation to form specialized piracy courts in the region. The lack of places to prosecute pirates made it difficult to curb piracy. UNODC-supported prison rehabilitation projects must have more support. More attention must be paid to pirates’ financial leaders and to disrupting financial flows. The United States would convene, on 1 March in Washington, D.C., an ad hoc group on piracy.
PHILIP PARHAM (United Kingdom) called for more prison capacity to facilitate prosecution of more suspected pirates. The international community’s focus on agreements to accept suspected pirates for prosecution and imprisonment must continue. The European Union was concluding a prosecution agreement with Mauritius and it would likely resume negotiations soon with the United Republic of Tanzania on a similar agreement. But creation of an effective Somali court and prison system was the best long-term solution. He doubted it would be possible to create the proposed de-localized Somali court in the United Republic of Tanzania within the agreed timeframe. Implementation was clearly linked to the completion of other proposals in the report, notably prison facilities in Somaliland and Puntland; prison transfer agreements between the United Republic of Tanzania and Somalia; and the UNODC project to update Somali counter-piracy law. He advocated for strong cooperation between the Transitional Federal Government and Somali regional authorities. It would take time to conclude the necessary legal agreements, recruit and train staff, and identify and equip suitable premises for a de-localized court.
He encouraged States to adopt piracy as a crime of universal jurisdiction in domestic law. He welcomed more information on the proposal for a legal framework for detention at sea and a “model case report”. To enhance self-protection of ships, he welcomed the insurance and shipping industries’ work to certify compliance with elements of best management practices, including registration with the Maritime Security Centre — Horn of Africa. But more must be done on that through the Contact Group, in liaison with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). He welcomed the October 2010 agreement in Mauritius by the regional Ministers on a regional action plan on maritime security.
PETER WITTIG (Germany) said the European Union had deployed its first naval operation —Atalanta — off the coast of Somalia, in which Germany would continue to participate. The Special Adviser’s proposals deserved close attention, as military and judicial actions were indispensable in the short-term. However, it would be important to address the factors that facilitated piracy and the international community must continue to support Somalis in their efforts to re-establish peace, security and development. Economic opportunities and State actors that prevented and prosecuted piracy ashore were needed. Police, coast guard and law enforcement authorities must be set up in the country. Prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for piracy and armed robbery were a huge challenge and Germany agreed that it must ultimately be in Somalia where pirates were tried and imprisoned.
Noting the important contribution of the Contact Group on Piracy ff the Coast of Somalia and the Trust Fund supporting its initiatives, he said Germany had been among the first contributors to those efforts. Setting up an extraterritorial Somali court in a third country could be an essential part of a solution, as that could support a nascent Somali legal and judicial system. The Somali judicial system and its prisons faced various challenges, and the system must be improved in order for it to meet international standards. In the meantime, they required stronger regional and international support. More cooperation among regional States in trial, detention and transfer arrangements would considerably strengthen the fight against piracy.
DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa) agreed that the legal response to piracy must be in the context of a comprehensive, multidimensional approach. Concerned at the multiple challenges facing Somalia, he said piracy in Somali waters should be addressed in the context of the country’s economic and other challenges. Efforts would succeed only with a series of measures in place; the piracy problem would be truly resolved when the conflict was fully addressed. He was pleased that the Special Adviser’s report went beyond legal imperatives, underscoring that in paragraph 18 it was noted that the eradication of piracy required the development of economic alternatives. The underlying causes of piracy must be tackled, including the illegal exploitation of maritime resources.
On the legal dimension, he said he looked forward to the Council’s engagement on the Special Adviser’s proposals, adding that efforts should be framed by States’ obligations under the Convention. Any effort to address piracy should seek to build the capacity of Somalia’s legal and law enforcement institutions. South Africa appreciated the assistance provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to States in the region to carry out prosecutions. Supporting the call for States to criminalize piracy in their jurisdictions, he also believed that with a stable, prosperous Somalia, the challenges of piracy would be overcome. Everything should be done to assist the country in attaining the stability it deserved.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil) said the need to find a sustainable solution to piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast was more urgent because the insurgency in Somalia benefited politically and economically from that piracy. As the Secretary-General’s report indicated, in Kismayo, al-Shabaab may receive up to 30 per cent of ransoms paid to pirates. That kind of cooperation between crime and terrorism must be fought effectively before it became a true alliance that further destabilized Somalia. The Council must act upon the counter-piracy recommendations, consistent with its efforts in Somalia, particularly its decision to authorize the strengthening of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and consider outstanding African Union recommendations.
She said that action to socio-economically recover Somalia’s coastal areas must be applied across the board, with aid to reform the country’s legal framework on anti-piracy and maritime jurisdiction extended to repressing illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping at sea. She welcomed the report’s recommendations on prosecuting the instigators of piracy. She encouraged the private sector to do more to prevent and repress such attacks, protect the rights of seafarer victims of piracy and fund international anti-piracy efforts. Shipping companies that had greatly benefited from global efforts to provide security off the Somali coast could do more to comply with the best management practices agreed by the industry.
JOSE FILIPE MORAES CABRAL ( Portugal) said the international community could not turn a blind eye to Somalia. He called for increased funding of international efforts to fight piracy, saying the cost of inaction would be much higher. Portugal was ready to work on the Special Adviser’s proposals to prevent and punish piracy in the region as potential tools to promote institution-building, rule of law and the country’s economic development. Current solutions to the problem must be improved, while new economic, security and judicial ones must be pursued. He called for investing in efficient social reintegration programmes to enable prisoners to find legal employment after they were released.
Special attention must be given to treating children that were attracted to or coerced into piracy, he said. He stressed the need for a clear global strategy to prosecute and detain pirates, as well as to diversify mechanisms to fight impunity by building a jurisdictional regional network and the capacity of the Somali legal system. He supported the proposal to have another specialized Somali court in Arusha.
NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said the only long-term solution to the problem of piracy was to restore stability and peace in Somalia. An effective international strategy required coordinated use of resources and building on existing capacities. Noting the importance of assistance by UNODC and the Contact Group, he said a lasting commitment to assistance and training, coupled with the supply of logistic infrastructure and information technology, could encourage additional regional countries to contribute to the prosecution and imprisonment of pirates. Colombia welcomed the three proposed components to strengthen counter-piracy efforts in the economic, security and judicial spheres.
Also, he said, the disruption of arms trafficking through the Gulf of Aden, coupled with sanctions against the most important leaders and those protecting them, would significantly contribute to international anti-piracy efforts. The Monitoring Group on Somalia attributed the resurgence of piracy in part to weak implementation of the arms embargo. In line with resolution 1844 (2008), sanctions should be extended to those obstructing the provision, access and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. Stressing the primacy of the judiciary and correctional component of an international strategy, he insisted that the Transitional Federal Government should have main responsibility for combating piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. He welcomed the proposal to reform the criminal and procedural legal framework to include provisions allowing piracy investigations and prosecutions in Somalia.
GÉRARD ARAUD (France), noting that the Council permitted a legal framework to be established that allowed for a fleet of vessels to be deployed, said, however, that such a military option was not enough. Legal and judicial action was also needed so that the pirates could be tried and imprisoned. Indeed, 9 of 10 pirates had been released, owing to an inability to prosecute them. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, which set out possible actions for finding a solution to legal problems, he said first that a swift, realistic solution must be found, one that was cost-efficient and lasting, which Somalia could perpetuate. To address judicial imperfections, he urged completing Somali legislation. To try pirates, he noted the suggestion to set up a system with an extraterritorial Somali court. To address the “glaring” lack of prison capacity, the creation of three prisons had been proposed.
“They’re realistic,” he said of those options, noting that the $25 million needed to pursue them was indeed “limited”, considering the $7 billion costs of piracy. Those avenues had come together with other jurisdictional and correctional measures. The Secretary-General and Special Adviser had worked to change the parameters of the issue and the Council must now turn those recommendations into action. With that in mind, he suggested developing a draft resolution reflecting the relevant recommendations of the report. He also reminded the Council of the importance of funding such proposals, urging contributions to the Trust Fund. For its part, France would support the holding of an international donor conference.
KIO SOLOMON AMIEYEOFORI (Nigeria) agreed that convergent measures were required to curb and prevent piracy and he welcomed steps to overcome legal obstacles to prosecuting suspected pirates. However, their effectiveness depended on eliminating constraints on the coordination of the international prosecution of pirates and closer partnerships. Efforts such as the European Union’s Operation Atalanta must be streamlined into a coherent framework. Moreover, while article 101 of the Convention and resolution 1918 (2010) defined piracy as a criminal act, Kenya was the only regional State to incorporate that definition into its criminal code. That uncertainty should be addressed in international law.
The Council had established a precedent in that area, he explained, citing the importance, outlined in resolution 1950 (2010), given to enhancing the collection, preservation and transmission of evidence of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Somali coast. Other agreements relating to prisoner exchange and a common definition of piracy were also necessary. The Council must support an internal mechanism to complement international efforts, and domestic legal institutions must be reformed. Underscoring the urgent need to prosecute pirates, he said clear, enforceable laws must be promulgated by the legislature and enforced by a fair judiciary and police force. With that, he encouraged Somalia and regional States to enact a statute criminalizing piracy.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India), pointing out that Somali pirates currently were holding 28 ships with some 638 crew on board, said such figures were cause for major concern. India agreed with the need to strengthen international cooperation to tackle piracy and felt a comprehensive approach must be found. In that context, he proposed reinforcing the tracking of ransom money around the world, prosecuting the beneficiaries of that money, considering the conduct of naval operations under the United Nations as the preferred option, sanitizing the Somali coastline through identified “buffer zones” and enacting national laws criminalizing piracy.
He said his country had been engaged in anti-piracy operations, especially in the Gulf of Aden, and had set up a communication centre in the Indian Maritime Administration to coordinate in the event of piracy. The country also had banned operation of Indian “Dhows” in piracy-infested areas. Moreover, as a founding member of the Contact Group, India had been fully engaged in efforts to share information and coordinate naval actions in combating piracy in the Gulf of Aden. It would continue to contribute to international efforts aimed at increasing effective State cooperation.
WANG MIN (China), noting that the Somali peace process faced multiple challenges, said that to address them, both the root causes and symptoms must be treated. The Transitional Federal Government and the international community must adopt a holistic strategy. China had always supported the Transitional Federal Government and implementation of the Djibouti peace agreement. Urging the Government to continue working for national reconciliation, a stronger security sector and completion of remaining tasks, he said the United Nations also should play a greater role. The effective prosecution and imprisonment of piracy perpetrators was an important link in combating the problem.
He said that the Special Adviser’s 25 proposals were wide-ranging and his report provided an important reference in the exploration of feasible solutions. It warranted more study. China supported the existing international legal framework and relevant Security Council resolutions in prosecuting Somali pirates. His Government particularly appreciated the work done by coastal States, and believed that enhancing their capacity was critical to imprisoning pirates. The judicial capacity of those countries should be strengthened and he, thus, called for their continued assistance. He also welcomed various programmes to prosecute and imprison pirates.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) emphasized the importance of developing a holistic approach to the situation in Somalia. “Somali pirates are not born at sea, but on Somali land,” he said, noting that improving maritime surveillance in a particular area would not be enough to stop them, as their methods continued to evolve. Highlighting several points in the Special Adviser’s report, he said the Law of the Sea Convention set the legal framework applicable to combating piracy and armed robbery at sea. The failure to prosecute those responsible for such acts, and State reluctance to incarcerate them, undermined anti-piracy efforts.
He went on to say that the navy and coast guard were needed to combat such crimes and he called for building and equipping Somali forces. A legal structure to authorize executive and judicial jurisdiction over suspected pirates was also required. Encouraging the United Nations to assist Somalia and its neighbours in delimiting their maritime zones, he said Lebanon could not agree more with the Special Adviser’s recognition of the need for economic and social development to create incentives to steer Somalis away from a piracy-based economy. The international community must remain one step ahead of pirates and he thus welcomed the Special Adviser’s recommendations.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) said the Secretary-General had assessed the scale of piracy’s threat and had shown the United Nations commitment to combat it. It was necessary to set up an inclusive judicial mechanism and tackle piracy off the Somali coast in conjunction with the security threats on land. Piracy was a shared security challenge. To crack down on perpetrators, regional actors must be involved. He called for stronger financial and legal support for States in the region to help them ensure security. National arrangements, as well as effective national structures to combat piracy, were needed.
He supported proposals to set up courts in Puntland and Somaliland, as well as the creation of a specialized Somali court. Measures must account for the security threat on land. The threat of piracy must always be incorporated into the global strategy to tackle the Somali crisis, including the naval blockade and no-fly zone over Somalia, which was recommended by the African Union. It would help bring an end to the fighting that had ravaged Somalia for more than two decades. He called for incorporating international initiatives to combat piracy and for supporting the Transitional Federal Government. That was particularly important because poverty was a major cause of piracy, as many fishermen who lost their livelihoods due to industrial fishing off the Somali coast had turned to piracy to make a living.
Council President IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), speaking in his national capacity, lamented the increase in pirate attacks off the Somali coast, despite security, judiciary and other practices to prevent it. He expressed concern over the threat of such attacks moving farther south down the Somali coast and east into the Indian Ocean. He condemned acts of piracy and stressed the urgency to create effective counter-piracy measures before its spillover affect further destabilized the region.
He said that the “Somaliazation” of a solution, as proposed by the Special Adviser, was a good way to fight piracy, as was building the capacity of the security sector of the Transitional Federal Government and regional authorities in Somaliland and Puntland. Impunity of pirates was a major concern. The fact that 90 per cent of captured pirates were released was a “serious flaw” in the international approach to combating piracy. He supported the proposal to create specialized piracy courts in Somaliland and Puntland and an extraterritorial court in Arusha, as well as to increase incarceration capacity in Somaliland and Puntland.
In concluding remarks, Mr. LANG expressed his appreciation for the favourable assessments voiced by Council members. Indeed, a positive aspect had emerged today with a “strong, resolute, determined” desire to eliminate piracy. Hope also had emerged, which showed the determination of the Council and the United Nations to turn a corner. Everyone had said no time must be wasted. A race between well-equipped pirates and international forces was under way and “the pirates appear to be winning”, he stressed. He expressed hope the Council would swiftly produce a resolution of “resounding, clear and historic” importance so the combat against piracy would be waged even more strongly. Any resolution must be followed quickly by a real impact on the ground, he added.
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