Press Conference by Contact Group on Piracy off Somalia Coast

21 March 2011

Press Conference by Contact Group on Piracy off Somalia Coast

21 March 2011
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Contact Group on Piracy off Somalia Coast


The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia has agreed on the urgent need to adopt a comprehensive approach to combating the scourge and its causes, the Permanent Representative of Turkey, Chairperson of the Group, told correspondents this afternoon.

“Contact Group participants called upon the international community to provide the forces and resources required for effective military response at sea to piracy, while working concurrently to address the land-based origin of the threat,” Ertuğrul Apakan said at a Headquarters press conference during a break in the Group’s eighth plenary meeting, taking place all day today.

Given the increasing violence of the attacks on ships and their crews, as well as the widening geographical reach of the pirates, the Group agreed on the need to provide capability for a suitably robust military response, according to notes prepared ahead of a communiqué expected to be issued at the end of today’s meeting.  An effective, comprehensive approach, however, would combine military, law enforcement and development activity on land, as well as at sea, the communiqué was expected to state.

In the effort to end impunity, such an approach would include a multifaceted, aggressive effort to prosecute and incarcerate pirates, including their leaders and financiers, through information sharing, other innovative mechanisms and support for national prosecution.

Towards that end, the Group focused on the need to increase prison capacity in Somalia and to arrive at transfer agreements that would allow for convicted pirates to serve out their sentences in that country.  To enable all regional countries to combat piracy, the Group called for public and private-sector contributions to the United Nations trust fund set up for that purpose.

Participants also called upon Somali authorities to pass and implement anti-piracy legislation through which the international community could help the country build enforcement capacity, in the context of the rule of law, Mr. Apakan said.  “While piracy is an outgrowth of the situation in Somalia, it is incumbent upon Somali authorities to work with the international community to help them help themselves,” he added.

The Group also reaffirmed the critical need for ship owners and operators to put in place best-management practices to discourage attacks and prevent boardings.  “It is imperative that the shipping industry and recreational boaters take maximum precautions,” Mr. Apakan said, stressing the need to eliminate the opportunity for ransom payments that financed further piracy.

In response to questions, he said that no Turkish flagged ships were currently held by pirates, but six ships had been taken and released.  In response to questions about prosecutions, he directed correspondents to a second Contact Group that had been formed to deal with that subject, commenting that military and legal efforts complemented each other.

The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, created in January 2009, pursuant to Security Council resolution 1851 (2008), meets three times a year.  Nearly 60 countries and several international organizations participate, including the African Union, the League of Arab States, European Union, the International Maritime Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and various departments and agencies of the United Nations.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.