Welcoming Anti-Piracy Theme for World Maritime Day 2011, Secretary-General Says Thwarting Piracy Requires Strategy Based on Deterrence, Security, Development

3 February 2011

Welcoming Anti-Piracy Theme for World Maritime Day 2011, Secretary-General Says Thwarting Piracy Requires Strategy Based on Deterrence, Security, Development

3 February 2011
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Welcoming Anti-Piracy Theme for World Maritime Day 2011, Secretary-General Says


Thwarting Piracy Requires Strategy Based on Deterrence, Security, Development


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of the World Maritime Day theme for 2011: “Piracy: Orchestrating the Response”, in London, 3 February:

It gives me great pleasure to help launch the World Maritime Day theme for 2011.  I thank [International Maritime Organization] Secretary-General [Efthimios] Mitropoulos for providing the opportunity and for his kind words of introduction.

Piracy is a global menace.  Mr. Mitropoulos has just given us some startling statistics.  We are all alarmed, as we should be.

Piracy seems to be outpacing the efforts of the international community to stem it.  Therefore, I welcome the decision of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to pay special attention to piracy during the year ahead.

“Piracy: orchestrating the response” is a timely and important initiative.  We need to assess what is working, what is missing and what needs to be improved.

Although piracy manifests itself at sea, the roots of the problem are to be found ashore.  This is a complex issue.  But in essence, piracy is a criminal offence that is driven by economic hardship, and that flourishes in the absence of effective law enforcement.

The only truly successful way to address the problem in the long term is through a strategy that focuses on deterrence, security, the rule of law and development.

The situation off the coast of Somalia is foremost in our minds at the moment.

There are almost daily reports of attacks.  As we gather here, 30 ships with more than 700 people are being held hostage.

Moreover, ransom payments adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars have created a “pirate economy” in some areas of Somalia that make them more resistant to efforts to develop alternative livelihoods.

Economies throughout East Africa and beyond are experiencing the fallout.

Goods in Somalia and the region are becoming more expensive owing to the increased cost of doing business and the price distortions generated by artificial economies.

And the pirates’ reach continues to expand.  One vessel was recently hijacked near the Mozambique coast, and another approximately 120 nautical miles from Madagascar.

Insurance premiums are on the rise.  The threat to international trade routes is clear.  The situation is completely unacceptable.  Our common goal must be a sustainable solution.

The role of the IMO in securing and developing Somalia’s maritime sector, in cooperation with other relevant UN partners, could play an important part in alleviating the conditions that encourage people to turn to piracy.

Indeed, the IMO has a successful record in anti-piracy initiatives, building on its longstanding standard-setting work on maritime safety, borders and environmental protection.

The Straits of Singapore and Malacca were once one of the world’s piracy hot spots.  Today, thanks to agreements fostered by the IMO, States in the region have developed effective frameworks for cooperation in policing the situation.

The IMO has been developing similar measures to address the escalating situation off the coast of Somalia since 2005.  The Djibouti Code of Conduct, signed by 17 States from the region, is the primary regional cooperation mechanism to address piracy and seeks to replicate in the Horn of Africa the collaboration that has proved so successful in South-East Asia.

Piracy and armed robbery at sea are not simple issues and, as such, require a coordinated response under the overarching legal framework provided by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  It is also important to adopt a comprehensive approach, which takes into account political and socio-economic factors.

Many UN organs and bodies are engaged.

The Security Council has adopted resolutions on Somalia of ever-increasing severity and scope.  The United Nations General Assembly has regularly addressed piracy in its annual resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea.

I note with appreciation the close cooperation of the IMO with the Department of Political Affairs, the UN Political Office in Somalia, the Office of Legal Affairs, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).  It is important that we continue to act as one.  Interpol is another key partner.

I note the important role being played by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia as a forum for international cooperation and information-sharing, with the active participation of the United Nations.

I also wish to express my appreciation to the Combined Maritime Taskforce 151, the European Union Naval Force, NATO and all Member States’ navies and coast guards that patrol the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the coast of Somalia, pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions.  They are providing vital protection for United Nations vessels delivering logistical support to AMISOM — and for WFP shipments of humanitarian aid to the 2.4 million Somalis who urgently need it.

Yet, despite the deployment of significant naval assets to the region, the number of hijackings and victims has risen significantly.  More needs to be done.

We need to move beyond the impressive deterrence efforts, and to make sure that they are carried out in concert with the other elements of the strategy on land.  We need to support alternative livelihoods and the rehabilitation of coastal fisheries.

We need to develop Somali capacity to deal with piracy-related activities on land and in its territorial sea.  This must be linked to the broader efforts to develop Somalia’s police and coast guard, as well as its justice sector, to ensure that persons suspected of acts of piracy are prosecuted.

Though governance remains weak in Somalia, the Transitional Federal Government has a new Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.  He has produced a road map focusing on critical priorities: reconciliation, good governance, security, institutional capacity and the constitution-making process.

Success in these initiatives can provide the necessary stability from which all the country’s problems — including piracy — can be addressed.

The Security Council, for its part, recently agreed to increase the size of the African Union peacekeeping mission from 8,000 to 12,000 personnel.

Last week, my Special Adviser on the legal aspects of piracy off the coast of Somalia, Mr. Jack Lang, briefed the Security Council, and made a number of recommendations.  The Special Adviser’s report highlights the need for urgent action.

I would also like to stress the importance of the trust funds that have been established to finance anti-piracy measures, and take this opportunity to call for more contributions to them, including by the shipping community. 

Finally, let us never forget the detrimental impact of piracy on the innocent seafarers themselves — the men and women who face all manner of hardship in transporting the world’s precious cargo.  They are on the frontlines of this battle.  Their welfare and safety must also be at the forefront of our concerns.

I commend the IMO for its determination to bring new prominence to this issue in 2011, and I reiterate my personal support, and that of the United Nations as a whole, to this important initiative.

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