New York

25 August 2010

Secretary-General's remarks to Security Council open debate on Somalia piracy

Mr. President,


Thank you Mr. President for convening this very important meeting at this time.

Before beginning, I would like to join you, Mr. President, to welcome His Excellency Ambassador [Tsuneo] Nishida, as the new Permanent Representative of Japan [to the UN]. I wish him success.

Before I turn to the topic of our collective efforts to combat piracy, allow me to share my condemnation of yesterday's deadly attack on the Muna hotel in Mogadishu.

This attack, in the holy month of Ramadan, is an affront to Muslims and peace-loving people everywhere.

It is a sad but pointed reminder of our collective responsibility to support the Somali Government in bringing stability to this war-torn nation.

I join you in extending my condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Somalia.

Mr. President,


In the past seven months there have been 139 piracy-related incidents off the coast of Somalia. Thirty ships have been hijacked. Seventeen ships and 450 seafarers are being held for ransom.

I therefore welcome the Security Council's continued engagement on this issue.

Over the past three years, the international community has made concerted efforts to combat the problem, including by establishing a Contact Group and deploying significant naval assets to the region.

Nonetheless, we can do more. In particular, we need to implement the existing legal regime, so the fight against piracy in international waters is effective.

My report is now before you.

It sets out seven options. My Legal Counsel, Ms. O'Brien, will describe these options in detail, but I would like first to outline them.

The first option is to enhance ongoing efforts to assist regional States to prosecute and imprison those responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The second would involve locating a Somali court, applying Somali law, in a third State in the region .

The third and fourth options would involve assisting a regional State or States to establish special chambers, embedded in the State's national court structure, to conduct piracy trials.

Option five would require active engagement by the States of the region and the African Union to establish a regional tribunal to address the scourge of piracy.

Option six would be an international tribunal -- analogous to existing “hybrid” tribunals -- with national participation by a State in the region.

Option seven would be a full international tribunal, established by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter.

All these options present serious issues for consideration, which Ms. O'Brien will introduce in her detailed briefing.

Let me now turn to broader challenges. The Council has clearly emphasized the need to achieve and sustain substantive results in combating piracy.

To do so –whether through a new or existing judicial mechanism -- will require political and financial commitment from Member States.

We will need both to establish the mechanism and ensure that it has the capacity and resources to prosecute a large number of suspects, while ensuring due process.

Furthermore, in considering the establishment of such a mechanism, a host State will need to be identified.

This, in turn, will require adequate arrangements for transferring those convicted to third States for their imprisonment. This is particularly relevant given the large number of suspects apprehended at sea.

To further explore these issues, I intend to appoint a Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

In recent months, the international community has made great strides in strengthening the capacity of other States in the region –such as Kenya and Seychelles –to respond to piracy.

I welcome indications from Tanzania and Mauritius that they will also contribute to this effort.

I am also encouraged by investigations and prosecutions in 11 Member States, which are prosecuting or have convicted nearly 600 Somali men of piracy in the past 18 months.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have developed several programmes to assist States in the Horn of Africa -- including Somalia itself, and the regional authorities of Somaliland and Puntland -- to strengthen their criminal justice systems and cope with the added burden to prison and court systems.

UNDP's long-term assistance programme to the Somali courts and police is now complemented by UNODC's work in the corrections sector.

Such efforts depend heavily on partnerships. Our collaboration with the African Union, the European Commission, INTERPOL and NATO has been indispensable.

I would also like to thank the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, and the regional authorities of Somaliland and Puntland, for establishing a technical cooperation mechanism on counter-piracy.

It is important that such initiatives are fully integrated into our overall efforts to boost Somalia-based solutions to this problem.

In January 2010, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia established a Trust Fund.

It has already provided resources to several counter-piracy projects, both in the area of prosecution and initiatives on land.

I am grateful to all Member States that have generously contributed to this Fund and I call on the international community, including the shipping industry, to continue to support these crucial projects.

Let us always remember that reducing and eliminating piracy in the region means a sustained response, not only at sea, but also on land where piracy originates.

The security of international navigation requires that we continue to support peace and stability in Somalia.

I therefore thank the Security Council for convening today's meeting.

While I am here, I would also like to say a few words about the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The recent savage rape and assault of at least 154 Congolese civilians is another grave example of the levels of sexual violence and insecurity that continue to plague eastern DRC.

It is one more brutal reminder of the challenges of keeping the peace and protecting civilians in conflict zones.

Yet, meeting these challenges is our collective responsibility.

I have called on the authorities of the DRC to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.

I have also called on the Government to renew efforts to bring security and stability to the people of eastern DRC, and for all armed groups in the DRC to lay down their weapons and join the peace process.

Yet, I am compelled to ask: what more can we do to protect civilians from such wanton violations of international human rights and humanitarian law?

MONUSCO does what it can within its mandate, working with limited resources in an exceptionally difficult environment.

But, at such times, we should always ask if we could have done more.

I am dispatching Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare to work with Special Representative Roger Meece, and report back.

And I have asked my Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström to lead the UN response.

But, I also request that you, the members of the Security Council, seriously consider what more we can do –in the DRC and elsewhere –to ensure the successful protection of civilians in the context of peacekeeping operations.

Last year I met some of the victims of these appalling crimes of sexual violence in eastern DRC.

Women and children should not have to live in fear of rape.

Communities should not suffer the indignity of knowing that human rights abusers and war criminals can continue to behave with impunity.

We must speak out. And we must act.

Thank you very much.